I was reading an article the other day that was discussing how most people are confident that just being nice secures a place in heaven. But is this true? Of course, we want to believe that it’s relatively easy to go to through the pearly gates, but is being a decent person all there is to it? Have you ever heard the expression, “They would give you the shirt off their back” when referring to someone’s kindness and generosity? This is a very notable character trait, but is this alone the standard to qualifying and “earning” a ticket to eternal life? I must say...not necessarily. Contrary to popular belief, eternal salvation is not based on how good we are or how much we can give, but instead depends on if we have been spiritually born-again and if Jesus is our Lord and Savior. According to the Bible, the privilege of being invited into heaven has everything to do with accepting God’s love and allowing His love to flow through us in everything we say and do. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God” I John 4:7.
Without learning what it means to be a genuine overcomer for Christ, our lives will always be empty and meaningless, no matter how many good works we can do. I have spoken with many people over the years who are convinced that God grades everyone for their deeds and if we make a passing grade, we automatically graduate into the next life. The logic of many who are religious without a spiritual understanding assume those who receive bad grades because of their trespasses, will fail to reach the required points needed in their quest to obtain the keys to their “mansion just over the hilltop.” This might be considered natural common sense, but it’s not what the Bible says. If a person is not a child of God, yet is known to be generous, this might look wonderful to the world, but cannot take the place of surrendering our will to the Lord. There are many unsaved people who give and volunteer to help others while refusing to love and worship God or allowing Him to control their life. I John 2:15, says it this way, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
If heaven and hell were based on a grading system, there would have been no reason for Jesus to come and die on the cross, shed His blood, or raise from the dead. God could just keep track of all the good and bad things people do and after we have taken our last breath, all the points would be added up, and our fate would be sealed. The reality is that redemption forgives our sin and makes us a brand-new creation in Christ Jesus. When this change occurs, we begin to pray for our mind to be renewed, that our heart will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and for Jesus to sit on the throne of our heart as our King. As we are filled with the endless flow of His love, it overflows onto others, and is what “this little light of mine” is all about. We cannot out-give or out-love God, and without the nature of God flowing through us, we are not what we think we are. First Corinthians chapter 13, verses 1-3 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing.” One of the greatest legacies that anyone can have is to be known for their love. I’m always reminded of Jesus when He was nailed to the cross and asked His Father to forgive those who were torturing and killing Him. This example of the endless compassion He has for everyone, reminds us how His love must also be the conscience of our identity.