The Pugnacious Irishman had a thoughtful post titled My own goodness is enough . . . or is it? It had a good illustration to consider about how you’d evaluate your “goodness.” It also reminded me of this post, so I thought I’d re-run it.
This topic is a good way to insert a truthful and winsome witness – namely that Christians, by definition, are saying we are not good enough on our own and that we need Jesus’ work on our behalf. An authentic Christian worldview is the opposite of self-righteousness (though we often sin and act that way anyway). The truly self-righteous ones are those who think their good deeds will require God to let them into his Heaven.
Also, if being 51% good was the standard, we haven’t even been that good. When I consider all of my sinful thoughts, words and deeds plus all the right thoughts, words and deeds I should have had but didn’t, I’m lucky if I’m at 10%. Many of the “good” things I’ve done were for my glory, not God’s, and those go into the loss column.
I think some Christians parrot this view because they worry about unsaved relatives and it helps them rationalize their eternal state. Also, why do the hard work of evangelism if “good” people are safe? After all, 90% of prisoners will tell you they are basically good people.
Here are some questions you might want to ask someone who says that “good people go to Heaven.” Ask them nicely and interactively, not as if you were a prosecutor! The idea is to get them to realize the implications of what they are saying on their own.
Can you define “good” for me? For starters, this may help them see that if 6 billion people each get their own definition then something may be wrong with this worldview.
Regarding who gets into Heaven, who would get to define “good” – you, me, someone else or God? Seems like the creator of the universe might have the final say rather than the created beings.
Is that 51% good? Or 50.001%? Islam teaches that God weighs your sins to determine your eternal destiny. Interestingly, the real God – as revealed in the Bible – isn’t soft on sin like Allah. All sins get punished instead of overlooking up to 49% of them.
Are sins done on a weighted average, or just raw numbers? Where is the scale? All sins offend a holy and perfect God, but we intuitively realize that some sins have worse consequences than others. But again, who gets to decide?
Do you have a spreadsheet to keep track of your sins? I tried, but my hard drive got full.
What if you missed some? Do you want your eternal destiny based on some rough estimates? We sin so much that it is impossible to remember them all.
If you have no hope of getting to 51%, should you give up and just be evil? This might be a bad question to ask . . . seems like many people have gone down this path and we don’t want to give anyone ideas.
If you are at 70%, is it OK to sin on purpose? After all, you have room to spare!
Where is your assurance? The fact that Christianity offers assurance isn’t what makes it true, but it is one of the great things about it. Since we’re trusting in what Jesus did for us instead of our own works, we can be confident of our salvation.
Most importantly, what does the Bible say?
Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8 and 10:9: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
I’m glad to be relying 100% on the Jesus plan instead of my not-such-a-good-person resume.