“God is the One who is good.” (Matthew 19:17a The Message)
Over the years I’ve asked dozens of people this question: “If you were to die and stand before the Lord, and He was to ask you: ‘Why should I let you into My perfect heaven?’ what would you say?” 99% of the answers were: “Because I’m a good person.” What’s behind that response?
Most people tend to think they’re better than they are. When I was a younger, I thought I was a good person, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized there is nothing good about me except Jesus. In John 15:5 Jesus says: “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” What does that mean?
If you separate a branch from a tree, how fruitful can it be? Not at all, right? It will wither and die. That’s what happens to people apart from God. ANY goodness derived from my life, or anyone who believes in Jesus, is simply evidence of the life of God flowing through them. “But what about people who aren’t followers of Jesus? What is the source of their goodness?”
That’s a fair question. Two ideas come to mind. First, God has planted eternity in every human heart. There is a part of every person that has the capacity, and on some level, the desire to know God. Add to that the reflection of God in nature and, of course, in the lives of His followers, and people will be drawn to what is right and good and begin to reflect that in their own lives. Secondly, God is omnipresent, which means He can be every place at the same time. His presence exudes goodness and, quite naturally, will be sensed and on some level, caught. What does that mean?
It essentially means we are products of our environment. If we choose kind, loving people as friends, over time we will grow to be like them. It’s the same if we choose unkind, inconsiderate, hateful people. Over time we will reflect their influence in our lives. There is a saying that if you want to know what you’re becoming, look at your five closest friends.
The point is, any goodness that we may see evidenced in our lives, can be traced back to the only One who is good, God. Isaiah 64:6 reminds us: “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.” Offering our good deeds or personal goodness to God as an offering for our sin is like offering a king a basket of filthy rags as a gift.
So, if we can’t expect our goodness to grant us entrance into heaven, on what can we stand? Jesus answered that question in John 14:6: “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” What does that mean? It means in order to know that heaven will be our home when we leave this planet, we have to place our full trust in the truth of not only what Jesus said, but in who He is. So, the logical question then becomes: Who is Jesus?
Volumes have been written on who Jesus is, so let me summarize, based on what the Bible teaches. He is God’s only begotten Son. What does that mean? The word translated “begotten” literally means “the only one of its kind,” Jesus is unique in that He is God who became a man. He’s not ½ man and ½ God. He’s 100% man and 100% God. He is the one and only God-Man, and as such, is solely qualified to be the bearer of our sin. He alone chose to come to earth, become a man, live as we live, and to reflect the qualities and characteristics of His Father. He alone lived a perfect and sinless life, and paid the penalty for our sin by submitting Himself to die on the Cross in our place. He is God, thus entirely and completely good, and alone able to provide us a way to go to heaven.
We’ll look at this from another angle tomorrow.
Blessings, Ed 😊