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Is Being Good Enough Good Enough to Get Me to Heaven?

By William Richard Ezell

Is "good enough" good enough? Consider, if you will, that if 99.9 percent were good enough ...

  • The IRS would lose 2 million documents this year.
  • 22,000 checks will be deducted from the wrong bank account in the next hour.
  • Telecommunications companies will misdirect 1,314 telephone calls every minute.
  • 2,488 books will be shipped with the wrong covers on them each day.
  • More than 5.5 million cases of soft drinks in the next year will be flat.
  • 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions will be written each year.
  • 12 babies will be given to the wrong parents each day.

Obviously, being good enough is not good enough for life in modern society. So why do we think that being good enough is good enough to get us into heaven? You've heard people ask, "If I try my best won't God let me into heaven?" or "Doesn't God just require me to be better than the average human?" or "Don't I have to just live a good life to be a Christian?" or "How could a loving God send good people to hell?"

Martin Luther, the reformer, wrote, "The most damnable and pernicious heresy that has every plagued the mind of man is the idea that somehow he could make himself good enough to deserve to live with an all-holy God." A Bible teacher used to say, "Man is incurably addicted to doing something for his own salvation." What does the Bible say about being good enough?

God's Standard is Perfection

In one sense, one can be good enough to get to heaven, but they would have to be perfect. Because God's standard for entrance into heaven is perfection. On one occasion Jesus identified the two most outwardly religious groups of people in his day, the Pharisees and the scribes, and told his listening audience, "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:20). On another occasion Jesus said, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).

God's standard never falls short of complete righteousness and holiness. Anything less than perfection is sin. Think about heaven for a moment. Heaven is a place of the "no mores" — no more tears, no more sadness, no more pain, no more sickness, no more death. All of those things are caused by sin. If those "no mores" don't exist in heaven, it is because there is no more sin. Heaven will be wonderful, not only because of what is present — God, but also because of what is absent — sin.

God's standard of perfection is not arbitrary. God does not grade on the curve. He does not say, "Oh, you are close enough" or "You have tried really hard to live a good life." That would be like trying to jump the Grand Canyon. So what if you jump thirty feet and set an Olympic record, you still splatter. God does not compare. "Well, Bill you are better than John so you are in and John is out; Betty, you are better than Sue, so come right on in." That would be like trying to jump the Grand Canyon. So what if you jump farther than any other human, you still splatter.

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