Summary: Our culture indoctrinates us so that we wind up believing some things about God, the Bible or Christianity that just aren’t true. This week we look at a popular idea, all good people go to heaven.
4. I’m a Good Person
Andy Stanley tells the story of a church kids teacher who was trying to explain heaven to his class. So he asked the class a series of questions to see what they already thot about the subject:
- if I had a garage sale and sold all my stuff and gave the money to the church, would that get me into heaven?
o NO they all cried!
- If I cleaned the toilets in the church and mowed the lawn and gave all my money to the poor, would that get me into heaven?
o NO! they said again
- If I loved my wife and gave candy to every kid I saw and was kind to animals, would that get into heaven?
o NO they shouted.
- Well, then how can I get into heaven? Kid in the back row pipes up and says:
o You GOTTA BE DEAD FIRST!
Right! First prerequisite for heaven… you have to be dead! Anybody who knows for sure how to get to heaven has to have died first to have field tested their theory. But there’s a small problem with that, since there’s a dearth of dead people walking around willing to talk about heaven.
So we all agree, you need to die, but after that, it’s all speculation. And I would say, not just speculation, but ASSUMPTION. Here’s where our myth takes shape. It’s built on a very popular ASSUMPTION on heaven which simply put is this:
Good People go to heaven.
That’s it. It’s so popular you can find this theory on heaven around the world. Almost all of the major world religions are some version of this theory. Everyone you meet on the street holds to it. The problem is, it’s a myth. I mean, it doesn’t make a lick of sense when you think about it, which most people don’t.
Why don’t they? I don’t know… too busy living to think about dying, I guess. But when a mom or dad or wife or husband dies, then we’re faced with it, I see it at every funeral I officiate… people think about their morality and it gets very uncomfortable. Ah, but then someone starts to talk about all the good deeds this person did what a good person they were and everyone relaxes and says:
Of course, good people go to heaven.
The MYTH is based on this logic:
- There is a Good God who lives in a Good place reserved for Good people.
- This God goes by many names, he’s behind all the major world religions.
- And of course that means that all major religions and all minor religions provide a path to this good place.
- The path is not in the religion, it’s that the GOOD people in the religion, the good Muslims, the good Buddhists, the good Catholics, the good Jews, the GOOD Christians go to heaven.
Now lets be honest, almost everyone believes this. You ask the average person about heaven, if they think about it at all, it’s just passed off with a simple,
“well, I’m a good person and so I’m figure I’m OK.”
They’re always quick to add, “well, of course, I’m not PERFECT”… as if they needed to say that. Like, “oh, you’re not? I would have never guessed! Ok, let me scratch that assumption off my list then! Thank you for clarifying!”
Now of course it’s an attractive way to think, isn’t it. Some of you are Christians – you believe in the whole Jesus thing – but you still think this way. Good people go to heaven. Why? Because we’re the “good” people! How many people have you met who have ever said,
- “heaven is for good people and I’m not one of them.” NO!
- We’re good people! How many bad people in this room? That’s what I thot.
It’s an appealing myth for three reasons:
A) Because it’s fair. Good is rewarded, Bad is Punished. That seems fair.
B) Because it motivates us to BE good. If the good people go to heaven, then I should be good.
C) Because it’s consistent with God’s Goodness. If God is Good, then only good people can be with him.
So it’s got some common sense going on, but there’s some fatal flaws in this idea which is what makes it’s a MYTH according the Bible.
1. IT’S NOT CONSISTENT
Since nobody is perfect, who gets to answer the question, how good is good enough? A Barna Research Group Poll asked, if the following phrase was in the Bible, or not: “God helps those who help themselves”. According to the Barna poll, 80% of Americans believe that phrase is in the Bible. Surprise! It’s not.