As a youth ministry leader, there is one thing I hope I get across to my students – being a “good” person will not get them into heaven and being a “bad” person will not keep them out of heaven. Believing in Jesus Christ is the only requirement for entrance into heaven.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV
Everlasting life comes from believing in the completed work of Jesus on the cross. Good works or being nice or even following all God’s commandments perfectly is certainly impressive, but not criteria for a heavenly ending.
So, if good works won’t get me into heaven, why do I have to love others? Why do I have to be kind? Why can’t I say everything on my mind?
If we believe in Jesus like we say we do, our faith will push us, and the Holy Spirit will lead us, to doing good works. We know we are doing good works by the fruit we produce (Matthew 7:15-20). We love our neighbors, forgive everyone, spread the Gospel, and walk when God says walk, not because we think that will get us a meeting with God in heaven, but because we love Him.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV
This love takes the pressure off the impossible perfection standard. When we get it wrong, that doesn’t erase our names out the book of life. Instead, we repent sincerely and keep running the race we were called to run in faith (Hebrews 12:1-3, 2 Timothy 4:7, Philippians 3:13-14)
“I am the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV