28 October 2016

Where do good people go?

A poster on Facebook read: “Good people don't go to heaven – forgiven sinners do.” There were many likes, shares and amen's to this remarkable and thought-provoking statement. The only problem is that it is false!

The people who shared it may have thought they were proclaiming the gospel of grace. But it is not the true gospel. It is another ‘gospel’. It is a horrible perversion that guarantees damnation to all who follow this demonic heresy.

Where, may I ask, should good people go? Why should God condemn them to hell? Surely not because they are good! That would make the Judge of the earth unjust!

Good and faithful

But that is not what we read in the Bible. The apostle who most forcefully preached justification to him “who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:5), also declared that God gives eternal life “to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality” and again, he gives “glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good” (Romans 2:6-11). In a word, good people go to heaven.

The Judge himself, Jesus, tells us plainly that “those who have done good” will come out to the resurrection of life (John 5:28-29). The lazy and indifferent will go to eternal punishment, while “the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46). The poster says that good people do not go to heaven, but the Bible says that Lord himself will call them “good” and welcome them, “Well done, good and faithful servant ... Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23).

Jesus calls sinners

But someone may object: does not the Bible say that Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners? (Luke 5:32)

Yes, Jesus came and called sinners to himself. He continues to call sinners and freely grants them forgiveness and reconciliation with God. But that is not all. He calls sinners to repentance, to a change of mind, and hence, a change in attitude and behaviour. Jesus calls them to forsake sin. He calls them to deny themselves and follow him. To them who hear his call the Saviour grants forgiveness and leads them in the path of righteousness.

More than forgiveness

Let us never forget this biblical truth. God’s salvation is not only forgiveness. God also sanctifies the people he forgives. He gives sinners a new and obedient heart, freedom from the bondage of sin, and the Holy Spirit to change them into the image of Christ.

I do not nullify the work of Christ on the cross by pretending to merit salvation by my good works; nor do I not nullify the work of Christ by his Spirit who transforms sinners to saints. The potter takes a piece of clay in his hands and transforms it into a glorious masterpiece.

Forgiven sinners go to heaven; good people go to heaven. They are the same people; they are saved – forgiven and transformed – by the grace of God.

(Gospel e-letter - November 2016)