In the song “You Never Give Me Your Money” the Beatles chant “all good children go to heaven” over and over as it fades out. Although I love the Beatles musically, this is one of the most dangerous theological statements that can ever exist. Unfortunately, it is also a very prevalent belief. Barna reports that almost 75% of all people (Christians included) believe that you can earn your way into heaven.
“This is perhaps the most important question in all of Christian theology. This question is the cause of the Reformation, the split between the Protestant churches and Catholic Church. This question is a key difference between biblical Christianity and most of the ‘Christian’ cults.”
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, a thief hanging next to him called out for his mercy. He replied: “today you will be with me in paradise”. That thief had no chance to ‘right his wrongs’ through good works only accepting Jesus’s free grace. Because we live in such a transactional society, we don’t comprehend something for nothing. We do this – we get that. Christianity stands apart because it is the ONLY religion that is a free gift. Nothing required other than personal belief and acceptance.
Some faiths will argue this point because of the scripture that reads “faith without works is dead”. To clear this up, check out this quote:
The idea is that if you are truly born again in Christ, then you will exhibit that change through your actions. Although we cannot truly judge a person’s heart – Christians will be identified through their works: the manifestation of their faith. True faith drives a person to be different, changed, reformed, and active. Unfortunately, there are a large percentage of “Christians” sitting in our churches that are only Christians in name. Again, we can’t ever know the true finality of their salvation – but we should be able to see what is important in their lives.
Being “good” doesn’t get you to heaven. Technically from God’s perspective there is no such thing as good/bad people (we’re all bad), there is only forgiven or unforgiven people. Since we’re all bad (Romans 3: 9-20), then salvation MUST be a free gift because none of us could earn it. There would always be someone who did more good than you and/or more bad. Thank God it’s not judged like that! This is what makes Christianity unique.
This doesn’t make Christianity a free-to-sin option. See the above quote again. A true Christian WILL be different. But it does make Christianity real FREEDOM! In other words, God knows you will make mistakes and he covered it. Every time you sin, Christ does not need to get back up on the cross again. It Is Finished! Even the Old Testament, was technically an earn-your-salvation covenant. The act of the cross changes EVERYTHING!
A lot of people will not come to Christ because they are afraid of all that they will have to change about themselves. Although partially true, it is not a change everything THEN come to me, it’s a come to me and I will help you change everything.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” – 2 Corinthians 5:17