QUESTION AND ANSWER, OCTOBER 1997
Do all good people go to heaven?
Well, many good people certainly do but not because they are good. It is made very clear in the letter to the Romans and in many other places in the New Testament that being good does not get you to heaven. What saves us is a simple trust in the Lord and the acceptance that his blood has covered all our sins - even all mine personally - and yours. It is worth pondering quite hard on the story which Jesus told of the Pharisee and the tax gatherer in Luke chapter 18 versus 9 to 14. Note how that Pharisee was a good man. (We often are mistaken in thinking that the Pharisees as a group were all bad. They were not. They were the holiest people in Israel at the time).
But the Pharisee thought that he was going to be right without that. What really matters is repentance and the cry to God for forgiveness and acceptance, a cry which is recorded there in verse 13 but also, even more dramatically in Luke 23:42 (the cry of the thief on the cross).
To return to Romans, look at Chapter 3:23 "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are justified by his grace as a gift".
That gift has to be received.
This means that, whoever you may be, a king, a politician, a judge, a bishop or a regular communicant at your parish church, it does not really matter at all. You still need to come to Him in faith. All your goodness and all the excellent things that you do will not count with the Lord. Having said all that, we also have to remember that the Lord makes it very plain that we are expected to be holy - even ‘perfect’ and that there are very high standards for believers - standards by which Jesus expects us to live. At one point, Paul heard of some people who said that the more we sin, the better it is, because we shall be forgiven. But Paul is amazed that people can think like that and we can read his argument in Romans chapter 6. We are not to "let sin have dominion over us since we are not under law but under grace". So let us seek to become holy men and women but also trust in the Lord’s blood alone for our salvation.
John Pearce, Bury St Edmunds
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