Friday, March 29, 2013
I used to think only good people went to heaven. I was glad because I was a good person. At least I thought I was. If I looked at the people around me, I was better than most of them.
Then one day I realized I was not a good person at all. I had broken pretty much all of the Ten Commandments multiple times. Did this mean I was now going to hell? It would take me ten lifetimes of good deeds to make up for what I had done.
I was relieved to find out that the Ten Commandments were not given by God to judge who would go to heaven and who would not. They were rules for his people to follow, and they were given so that we would see how impossible they were to keep. This was especially true after Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount and told the people it's not just your outward actions, but your thoughts that count too. If you hate someone, you have just murdered them as far as he was concerned.
So how do you get to heaven if good people don't go?
The answer is in John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
When Jesus died on the cross many Good Fridays ago, there were two criminals hanging on either side of him. This was the conversation that took place:
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
Jesus answered him, "Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."
So who goes to heaven? Bad people?
Only those who are forgiven by believing that Jesus is the Messiah who died for all sin and rose again on the third day.