One of the required components of our fourth grade memory program
involves the greatest commandments in Mark 12.
And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that he had answered them well, asked him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”
Jesus answered, “the foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these."
We had an awesome time with 27 ladies coming out on Friday night for food, singing, learning about contentment, One Direction, and fellow-shipping. Moms, daughters, grandmother, granddaughters, and friends stayed the night. We fellowshipped, did service projects, and learned about mentors in the congregation. Then two brave souls came back on Saturday morning for more food, fellowship, and learning how to let our colors shine. We're already thinking about next year's event.
It seems there are a lot of people who wonder, “Am I good enough to go to heaven?” They wonder if they’ve done enough good, if they’ve helped enough people, if they attended worship services enough times, and if they have taught enough people about Jesus. And then, on the other hand, there are those who wonder if they’ve been too bad to go to heaven. I want to attempt to answer some of these questions.
1. No One is Good Enough for Heaven
You first need to understand, the answer to your question is a resounding, “No.” You most definitely are not good enough to go to heaven and neither am I. The only person who was ever good enough to go to heaven is Jesus. I don’t care how many songs you’ve sung, how many prayers you’ve prayed, or how many people you’ve helped, you are still not good enough to go to heaven.
If you’ve committed even one sin, and we all have (Romans 3:23), then you are completely unworthy of heaven. God doesn’t grade on a curve. He doesn’t say, “Well, you were better than most, so you get in.” That’s not the way it works. If you’ve sinned in any way, shape, or form you are not good enough for heaven.
2. No One is too Bad to Save
That being said, Jesus came to save sinners like us. His blood is the only thing that can make us good enough for heaven. His blood washes away every sin. It doesn’t matter if you’ve sinned once or a million and one times, the blood of Jesus can wash away each and every sin.
The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11,
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
No matter how bad you’ve been, you can be saved. You don’t have to convince God to save you, He already wants to save you (1 Timothy 2:4) and He’s already paid the price for your salvation.
So, no more, “I would become a Christian, but I’m afraid I’ve just been too bad for Him to save me.” Don’t doubt the efficacy of the blood of Christ. If He can save a murderous sinner like Saul of Tarsus (1 Timothy 1:15), He can most definitely save you. No one is too bad to save!
3. No One Can be a Good Enough Christian
At this point, some are saying, “Yes, yes, I know. But have I been a good enough Christian to deserve go to heaven? After I was saved from my former life, have I done enough good things – have I been obedient enough – to go to heaven?” I’m sorry, but all of the good things you’ve done since becoming a Christian, do not make you any more worthy of heaven than when you were first saved.
If a murderer was baptized into Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:27), and died a minute after coming up out of the water, he would be just as saved as a man who had spent 50 years of his Christian life faithfully preaching the gospel. Both men will go to heaven, equally saved.
We were initially saved by grace through faith, we are currently being saved by grace through faith, and we will ultimately – on the Day of Judgement – be saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus told his disciples, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:10). Just as no one is too bad to save, no one is so good that they deserve to go to heaven.
4. No One is Safe from Falling
Although we recognize we cannot be good enough to be saved, and our goodness – after being saved – merits us nothing, we also need to recognize that we can forfeit heaven by intentionally continuing in sin. The Hebrew writer wrote this stern warning, in Hebrews 10:26-27,
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
And Paul warned those in Corinth, “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). That’s not to say, of course, that we will automatically fall from grace for committing a sin. John wrote, in 1 John 2:1, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin,we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” In order to have Christ continue to be our advocate, and continue to forgive our sins, we must “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7).
Walking in the light includes refraining from doing evil, and also doing the good God has prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). If we do not do the good we know we ought to do, it is sin (James 4:17). If we deliberately refuse to do the good we should be doing, we are no longer faithfully walking with Christ.
The idea that it is impossible for a Christian to fall from grace is one of the biggest lies ever perpetrated on humanity (Galatians 5:4). If a man stops walking with Christ, he stops receiving the forgiveness Christ offers. No living person is safe from falling. We must all guard ourselves diligently against apostasy (Hebrews 3:12).
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is this, whoever is in Christ – no matter what he may have done in his past or how little good he has accomplished – will be saved on the Day of Judgement (Romans 8:1). Likewise, whoever is not in Christ – whether because he has never obeyed the gospel or he has fallen away from Christ - will be lost. So the ONLY thing that matters, when it comes to your salvation, is whether or not you are in Christ Jesus. Have you been baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:1-7; 1 Peter 3:21) and are you faithfully abiding in Him (John 15)?
You are NOT “good enough” to go to heaven, but if you’ll stick with Jesus, He promises to get you in (John 14:1-6).
Contributor Wes McAdams is the preaching minister
at the Baker Heights congregation in Abilene, Texas.
His writing - located on his Radically Christian website - is often poignant and timely.