Why will God let you into heaven?
Have you ever thought about that question? Over the past twelve or so years in ministry, I have asked that question of dozens of people. Common responses include:
- “I’ve been baptized and confirmed.”
- “I’ve been a faithful church attender.”
- “For the most part, I’ve been a good person.”
People often respond with some sort of “moral resume” in a sentiment that says, “God, will let me into heaven because I’ve done enough good things to get in.” I want to try to show you why this won’t work.
Tim Keller illustrates it like this. Imagine a poor widow with an only son. She teaches him how she wants him to live: to be generous, to work hard, and be kind to people. She makes very little money, but with her meager savings, she is able to put him through college. What if, after he graduates from college, he hardly ever speaks to her again. He occasionally sends her a Christmas card, but he never visits, never returns her calls, and almost completely ignores her. But he lives just like she taught him. He’s generous. He works hard. He’s kind to people. Would you say this is acceptable? Of course not! Why? Wouldn’t you say that by living a “good life” but ignoring a relationship with the one to whom he owed everything, he was actually doing something despicable?
In the same way, living a “good life” won’t work. We must give ourselves completely to the One to whom we owe everything. Jesus must be the epicenter of our existence.