Good People Go to Heaven ... Don't They?

According to a TIME/CNN poll, 81% of those surveyed said they believe in the existence of heaven. Most also believe that you get to heaven by good works. That shouldn't be surprising. It's what most world religions teach.

What if they're wrong? What if good people don't go to heaven? I bet most people have never even given it a second thought. But what if the "good people go to heaven" idea isn't true? I'd want to know, wouldn't you?

If I was checking this idea out, here are a few issues I'd want to clarify:

First, I'd want to have something specific to go on. I'd want to know what "good" is. What's the standard? And who gets to decide? You may think this is a no-brainer, but the reality is, when it comes to specifics, people are all over the map about what's right and wrong. Compare what Islam and Judaism teach. Or check out the message in a Catholic church with what the Mormons are saying. There are big differences. So if good people go to heaven, what standard of good do we have to meet?

Of course, most people believe that whatever the standard is, they at least are good enough to get in. But is that a good assumption? It leads me to consider another issue...

If it's true that good people go to heaven, not only would I want to clarify what the standard is, I would also want to know the "grading system." In other words, how good is good enough? In university I passed a few classes only because the professor marked on a curve. Does God use a bell curve to grade us? If he did, doesn't that mean half of us are going to fail?

A man named Erwin Lutzer was on a plane and the man in the seat next to him said to him, "Well, I can get to God by my own good works."

Lutzer said, "Are you sure that you could be saved by your good works?"

The man replied, "Well, actually, no. I have some fear."

"What's your fear?"

He said, "It's standing behind Mother Teresa on the day of judgment and overhearing God say to her, 'Lady, you could have done a whole lot more!'"

Can you imagine being next in line after Mother Teresa?!? The bell curve won't seem so appealing then, will it?

Or what if you're standing before God and you find out you're one good work - just one lousy act of kindness - short of what you need to get into heaven? Wouldn't that be a bummer? The point is, maybe I'm not good enough. Maybe you're not good enough. But how do we know for sure?

Which brings up one more issue: What if nobody is good enough? Perhaps this has never crossed your mind, but it's a possibility, isn't it? In fact, Jesus makes it to be more than just a possibility. On one occasion, he was talking to a young man about this very issue. The man was wondering if he had done enough to get into heaven (and he had done quite a bit). Jesus totally deflated any hope that he was good enough. You can read the story here. It just might turn your worldview upside down.

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