I remember when I was in high school, one of my best friends was feeling pretty down. I thought he came from a “good Christian family”, and he had high character standards. One day as he was going through this down time in his life, he simply said to me, “If I would die tomorrow, I’m not sure I’d go to heaven”. I was a Christian as well, and the question took me back.
He went on to say, that he isn’t living his life very well at the moment, and just doesn’t feel like he is living a “good enough” life to know what will happen if he dies tomorrow. I think a lot of people have that question, but just as my friend, they base it on the ‘ol measuring stick of deeds, or one’s behavior.
I find that people answer this question through a couple different means or rationales. First, they compare how they “were” to how they are now. If there is improvement, there is hope. Secondly, people also compare themselves to others, by saying “I’m at least better than her, or him”, and if they’re going to heaven I have to be in too. The third way is by softening the things we are doing wrong, thus justifying a good life. If you only did this bad thing just this once, or a couple times, it isn’t “that bad”. Or, if you did something bad for another reason, or to really protect yourself or someone, that is OK too.
All of these means of judgment, completely misses the point of God’s gift to you. You cannot “earn” your way into heaven, you can’t log in as many good works as you can fit into your life, and assume that is enough. The only way you can be welcomed into heaven is to believe that God sent His only Son to die for your sins, and accept Him into your heart as the Savior of your life.
So you can just believe, and then lead of life a of chaos, trouble, lies and sins?
No. If you truly have God at the center of your life, you simply will live out your belief. It is similar to asking the question what comes first, the horse or the cart? Because God is at the center of your life, the result is living a God honoring life. Doing good things, or living a “good” life, will not get you into heaven. However, having God at the center of your life by accepting Jesus as your Savior, will get you into heaven, and because He is at the center of your life, good works flow out of you.
Accepting Jesus into your heart puts the horse first, and living a good and right life will be the cart which follows.