When asked what will happen after they die, most people say that they will go to heaven. And if asked why should they go to heaven, again most people say that they are good people, and that good people go to heaven. In this post, I will see if this makes sense.
The great evangelist Billy Graham has done an amazing job helping people to see that they are sinners who don't deserve heaven, but that they are sinners who deserve punishment. But I wanted to take a slightly different look at the Good News. A look at whether any "good people" could be in the presence of God in heaven.
A primary characteristic of God is that He is holy. And a constant theme throughout the Bible is that because God is holy, we should also be holy. See, Leviticus 19:2, 21:6, Matthew 5:48, 1 Peter 1:15. But another aspect of God's holiness, is that because He is holy, He is unapproachable in His majesty. We see this in the Garden of Eden, after Adam ate the forbidden apple, Adam could no longer be in God's presence, and had to hide (Genesis 3:8). The great Prophet Isaiah saw God's Throne room in heaven, with God's magnificence filling the room with His robe, and seraphim flying in the room crying out
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory! (Isaiah 6:3)
And the Prophet's immediate reaction seeing the brilliance of this vision was sensing his unworthiness. He cried out his unworthiness, his uncleanliness before God's holiness. He said: "Woe is me! For I am lost!" (Isaiah 6:5). And only with his sin atoned for and guilt being taken away by the seraphim's touch of a burning coal to his lips could he stand even the visionary presence of God.
So how could any one of us think we are worthy to one day stand and be with God in heaven? His holiness is overpowering and we are only imperfect people. He is the Creator, and we are the created. As Revelation 21:27 makes clear: Nothing unclean will ever enter God's presence in the New Jerusalem, nor anyone who has done what is detestable, or false. That is all of us, and so, without something more, we could never be in the presence of anything so holy. His being nice, or good, isn't enough to allow us to bridge this holiness gap. We are mere mortals covered with a lifetime of the mud of sinning. God is the perfect, unstained Creator of the universe. How could the two ever be together?
Let me emphasize this point just a little further. God's Word makes clear that the following people will not enter heaven. Let's see if you or I will be disqualified because we have done any of the following:
the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars (Rev. 21:8);
all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness, along with those who are backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unforgiving, and the unmerciful. Also deserving of death are those who approve of others acting in such a way. (Romans 1:28-32).
If you haven't seen your sin yet as making you incapable of entering heaven yet, perhaps the following will help you - those who are unrighteous, fornicators [meaning sex between two people who are not married], nor idolators, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, nor extortioners. 1 Cor. 6:9-10. In addition, those who practice uncleanness, lewdness, sorcery, hatred, contentious, jealousy, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambition, dissension, heresy, envy, murder, drunkenness, revelry and the like. (Gal. 5:19-:21).
Whew, that is quite of list of people who deserve death, and not worthy of entering heaven. It is all of us, including me. Oh yes, I forget that the name of this post is the good news! So where is the good news? If you see yourself as someone who is not worthy of being with God, not able by your own effort as being in heaven, and as we started out this post, if you are not a good person entitled to go to heaven, then you may be one that God's Grace will save. For it is by God's grace through faith that you are saved. And this is not from yourselves, but it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph. 2:8-9).
Yes, only by the atoning sacrifice on the Cross by Jesus Christ, exchanging our sin for Jesus' righteousness on the Cross is anyone saved, and can enter God's presence in heaven. This is the really Good News that saves. Praise be to God and God alone! So the Good News is that God came in the form of a baby, not to condemn the world of its sins, it is already condemned. Instead, Jesus was sent to rescue the world from its sins, and this gift is available to everyone who repents of living without God in their life, and willing to make Jesus their Lord and Savior. Thank you for letting me share the Good News this Christmas season.