Most religions and Christian denominations rely on good works for one to get to heaven. Some think that even if a person's religion is false, they will still get to heaven if their life, as a whole, is good; that simply being a good person overall will get one into heaven. Others believe it makes no difference which religion we believe, since all religions are on different paths to the same place. The teachings of the Bible do not agree with such thinking.
God can allow no sin into heaven and the Bible clearly states that all mankind has sinned, Romans 3:23. Doing good works does not erase that sin. No matter how good we are, our sin is still there. However, Christ took our sin upon himself and died in our place, taking our sins away. Once we have trusted in this finished work of Christ on the Cross, we have forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to our account, so we are seen by God as being as sinless as Jesus is. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer and the believer is born again, and is now reconciled to God and has peace with God.
Are all religions on different paths to the same destination? The Bible teaches there are only two paths, or roads, that lead to two vastly different destinations. Matthew 7:13-14 tells us of the broad road to hell, and the narrow road through Jesus Christ that leads to heaven. We must keep in mind that Jesus said there would be few that find the narrow path, Matthew 7:14, and also that there is always a way that seems right to man but that way leads to death, Proverbs 16:25.
Most religions, including Christians, believe that we can do good and earn the right to go to heaven. How good does one have to be? Is 50 percent good enough? What is good and what is bad? How good does one have to be to enter into heaven? To say that we are, or can, be good enough to enter heaven is to say that Christ did not have to die. The Bible tells us that Christ died to save sinners. If righteousness comes by doing good, Christ died needlessly, or as Paul said, "Christ is dead in vain", Galatians 2:21. The Apostle Paul writing to the Ephesians, Ephesians 2:8,9 said that we are saved by grace and not of works.
Once a person is born again, or has accepted Christ as their Savior, they are to do good works. Paul said in Ephesians 2:10 that we were created in Christ unto good works, and God has ordained that we should walk in them. Christians do good works because of what Christ did for them, out of love for Christ, and not to work their way to heaven, or out of a sense of duty.
God is holy, and He sets the standards of goodness, and not man. The Bible tells us that none of us are righteous and that none do good, Romans 3:10-12. If this is not enough, God goes further and tells us that all our good works are as filthy rags in His eyes, Isaiah 64:6.
The Bible goes on to tell us in the book of Romans 3:23 just how many of us have come short of the glory of God, or God's standard of behavior. Since we have all sinned, is there a price to be paid for this sin? The Bible tells us the price of sin is death in Romans 6:23. This means that if we have committed one sin, we are under judgment of death and cannot enter into heaven. Sin separates man and God and it is impossible to allow sin into heaven, James 2:12-13.
So how can a sinful person enter into heaven, where God allows no sin. The Bibles says that we are to repent, Luke 13:3. Repentance is a change of mind, a mind that has been changed in reference to sin, a mind that is determined to turn away from sin. To be saved, we must first realize we are sinners. Then, as we trust in the work of Christ, we will have a change of mind, a change of mind toward sin that will make us determined to turn away from that sin, and turn toward God. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 that we need to trust in Christ, who has already paid the price of our sins, and make peace with God. The book of Romans 10:9-10 tells us how to be saved and Romans 10:13 tells us that if we call upon the name of the Lord we shall be saved.
Matthew 6:33 instructs us to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Notice that it is His (Jesus Christ) righteousness and not our righteousness. Most people today believe that we can go to heaven by our own righteousness. If our good works out outweighs our bad works, we can go to heaven. If we are a good person we can go to heaven. The Bible does not teach this. The Bible instructs us to seek the righteousness of Christ. Christ was sinless, 1 Peter 2:22, and if He imputes His righteousness to us, we enter into heaven sinless in the eyes of God. Impute means to put on one's account, that Christ's righteousness is put on our account when we trust upon Him.
Paul tells us how we can have this righteousness of Christ in Romans 4:4-5. Note that it is the ungodly that Jesus makes just as if they had (Justified) never sinned. This would mean those who believe they can get to heaven by their own works, their own righteousness, or by being good, will not make it into heaven. Romans 4:4-5 goes on to say the one who does no work for his/her salvation, but simply believes in the finished work of Christ --his/her faith is counted as righteousness. Then it clearly states that God imputes righteousness without works. Those who try to be good and establish their own righteousness have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God, Romans 10:3-4. Works are then seen in the life of a born again Christian when he/she seeks to live in obedience to God. Ephesians 2:8-10 says that we are saved by grace and NOT of works, but we are created unto good works that we should walk in them. We do good works because of what Christ has done for us. If a person has been born again their life will be changed and we can see it by their works, James 2:20; 2:18.
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