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Salvation

Arguments that won’t get you into heaven

The bible tells us that we’ll all be judged by the Lord one day. We’ll stand before the creator of the universe and be required to give an account for our lives. How do you think you’ll fare on that day? For those who are truly saved, this judgement will be the day when they receive their eternal rewards. For those who aren’t saved (or who think they are but really aren’t) this day will not go well for them at all. They might hear Jesus say “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23 NIV).

Here are some of the weak arguments that people give for the why they believe they deserve to go to heaven. Heads up, none of these arguments, by themselves, will get you into heaven.

I’m a good person

Some people think that if they’re good enough (or even if they try to be good) they’ll gain eternal life. This belief is even taught by some churches. But is it biblical? Not at all.

The prophet Isaiah wrote “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” (Isaiah 64:6 NIV). And Jesus said ““Why do you call Me good?… No one is good—except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

It’s also written, “They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:12).

All of the good deeds we could possibly do during our lifetimes will still miss the mark of God’s standard of perfection. The only chance we have of passing the test is to put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14). Only His righteousness, not ours will save us.

If I do more good things than bad, God will let me into heaven

This is similar to the first argument above and it’s a common belief in some religions. I hear this from Hindus who believe that if they do more good than bad during their lifetime, they’ll reach a state of enlightenment and become a God. But I’ve also heard it in the secular and even in the Christian communities. There are a couple of problems with this belief. First, there’s absolutely no way to have any kind of assurance that your good deeds will outweigh the bad in the end. Imagine going through life without any assurance of your final destination.

From a biblical standpoint, though the problem with this argument is that it doesn’t hold water. Yes, God expects His children to do good, or as the bible refers to it, to bear fruit. But that’s not what gets us into heaven. It only adds to our reward once we get there. I think the apostle Paul explained it best when he said “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

I was baptized as a child

I don’t mean to pick on any particular denomination, but this is one that’s commonly heard by people living secular lives who were born into a Catholic family. In my opinion baptizing a baby is nothing more than a confirmation by the parents that they intend to raise their child as a Catholic. Biblically speaking, this ceremony has nothing to do with the salvation of the child. Jesus said “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). This speaks of a spiritual rebirth which requires a transformed life.

Salvation doesn’t come by being sprinkled with water. It comes through the washing, regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-6).

I was born into a Christian family

I hope it’s obvious to you that nobody is born a Christian. But that doesn’t stop some people who were born to Christian parents from thinking that they are, by proxy, also a Christian. The decision to follow Christ or not to follow Him is a personal one. It can’t be made for you. It’s a decision that can’t be made by anyone except you.

I believe in God

First of all, who is your God? Lots of people have a very different ideas about who God is that come nowhere close to being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The living God of whom there is no equal.

Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure’.
Isaiah 46:9-10

Secondly, even if you do believe that there is a God in heaven, that alone is not enough to save you. You must also believe that Jesus is the son of God and that He died for our sins and rose again on the third day and is now sitting at the right hand of God in heaven. You must also confess your sins to God and make a commitment to stop sinning. Only then can you attain eternal life.

I go to church every Sunday

This is a close cousin to “I’m a member of my church”. These are both excellent things that we should do but in and of themselves, they won’t get you into heaven. You must also believe in and do the things that I mentioned in the previous section above. Sadly, in these last days before Christ’s return for His church, there are many false gospels being preached.

By the way, if you’re not reading your bible on your own, you won’t recognize false teaching when you hear it. But here’s the other thing… Even if you are attending a church that’s faithfully teaching the true gospel as it’s declared in God’s word, are you applying what you’re hearing to the way you live? For the Apostle James warned, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).

If you always forget what you just heard in church before you even get to the parking lot, it’s a bad sign. Either you don’t have a hunger to learn God’s word so that you can apply it to your life and be more like Christ or your pastor is a poor preacher. If the problem is with you then you need to think long and hard about whether or not you’re just playing church.

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
2 Corinthians 13:5

Well friends, if you’ve heard any of these arguments come from your own lips, I hope you’ll re-examine your commitment to Christ, dig into His word, and decide this day whether or not you’re going to live for Christ. If you’ve heard them from others, I hope that you’ll set them straight.

I’ve been a Christian for more than 40 years. In 2013, I began growing in a closer relationship with God as I turned over more and more of my life to Him and asked Him for wisdom. Since then, I’ve been strongly compelled to share God's word and to warn others that we need to get ready because Jesus is coming soon.

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