In a previous article that I wrote, A Ready Defense, I made mention that I felt I wasn’t really prepared to provide justified explanations for my faith if ever I was put to the test. Since then, I have taken on the challenge to understand many of the questions typically asked by atheists in order to deepen my faith, equip myself, and hopefully encourage you to do the same.
Since the beginning of this mission, I have received many thoughtful, considerate, and kind comments from readers. There have also been many intriguing questions raised by some who are likewise searching after the right answers. One such inquiry was on the topic of goodness and whether a person, based on merit alone, will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Well, let us look into the Bible to see what God says.
In the book of Ephesians, Paul wrote to the Church of Ephesus. And one of the main themes highlighted in the epistle is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ throughout the entire cosmos.
So it is included within the words of chapter two the answer to the inquiry above.
“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, emphasis added)
It is as clear as daylight that the basis of our salvation is not in how well we perform but by grace alone. So this is probably what you are thinking: “Chaz, what about a good person who doesn’t believe in God, but lives by the Ten Commandments. Surely that should get him into heaven, right?”
Unashamedly, the answer is no. It is impossible to gain entrance to the kingdom of heaven by merely being a good person. The truth is that God’s standards demand perfection in everything.
Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (ESV). This verse makes it clear that no one is found without sin. This is than accentuated with the fact that everyone falls short of the glory of God.
Now, let us suppose we were to measure our lives against the Ten Commandments. Ask yourself honestly, have you broken any of them?
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness.
10. You shall not covet.
You may now be thinking: “Yeah, I have broken the Ten Commandments, but they’re impossible to follow 100% of the time.”
Exactly, they are impossible to follow at all. Thus, we are forced to recognize that we are not perfect beings; we are sinners. In a nutshell, sin is refusing to live our lives according to the way God expects us to and also not believing in Him.
Upon recognition of our own sinfulness, we know that it is impossible for a perfect God to dwell in the same place as us, imperfect man.
But the good news is that there is a hope for sinners like you and me and His name is Jesus Christ.
Jesus, God’s only Son, came to mend the broken relationship that sinful man have with a Holy God. He was crucified on the cross and on the third day rose again as it was prophesied. His death upon the dreadful cross provides a solution to the problem of sin and it promises eternal life with God in heaven.
What does it take then to receive this gift? Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (ESV).
This is the saving grace that has been shown to us through Christ; it has nothing to do with the works that we do by our own strength.
Consider for a moment the immense love Christ has for you and me, and we urge you who have yet to believe, to give your life to Jesus today.