Are you good enough?
By Jonathan Howes
We have a saying at Graystone Church. In fact, this saying is displayed on a huge sign in our lobby. It is the first thing you see you when you walk through the front doors of the church. It says, “We’re not perfect. We don’t expect you to be.”
As the pastor of the church, I’m the first to admit that I’m not perfect. In fact, none of Graystone’s pastors, elders or members is perfect. Believe me. I know these people. They are not perfect.
And guess what? You are not perfect either. None of us is perfect, which leads us to a really big question. How good do we have to be to go to Heaven? I am under the assumption that we all want to go to Heaven. The other option is not ideal. So, how good do we have to be to spend eternity in Heaven with God? And more specifically, are you good enough?
When I was a kid growing up in South Mississippi, I believed in God. I would have told you that I was a Christian. I would have said that I grew up in a Christian family, even though we didn’t go to church on a regular basis. My mom grew up Baptist, and my dad grew up Methodist. They could not agree on what church to attend, so we didn’t go very often. We did go to church every Christmas and Easter.
But it really didn’t matter if we went to church or not, because I was a good kid. In fact, I was better than almost anyone I knew. I made good grades. I obeyed my parents most of the time. I didn’t cuss or have a bad attitude. I was pretty much a goodie-two shoes, an All-American kid.
And I figured if my goods outweighed my bads, I was going to Heaven. I wasn’t a perfect kid, but I was better than most. When I got into high school, I got a little wilder. I started hanging around the wrong crowd and found myself partying on the weekends. But my goods still outweighed my bads, because I started going to church. In fact, I went to Sunday school and church every week. And to top it all off, I was baptized in front of the entire church, which sealed the deal in my mind.
So, this is how I grew up thinking. I viewed my life as a big scale. If I did something bad, like lie to a friend or steal a candy bar from the grocery store, it went into the bad side of my scale. But if I did something good, like pray or go to church, then it went into the good side of my scale. I figured as long as I did more goods than bads, then God would accept me into Heaven.
As I grew older and learned more about God and the Bible, I realized that no matter how many good deeds I did, I could never tip the scale in my favor. The reason for this is that even my righteous acts are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). None of us is as good as we think we are. In fact, the penalty for our sin, our imperfections, is spiritual death or separation from God (Romans 6:23).
So, what’s the solution? If our good deeds do not get us to Heaven, where is our hope? Well, God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life and die on the cross for our sins. He paid sin’s penalty of death for us.
Jesus replaced the scale in our lives with the cross. We do not go to Heaven by our good works. We get to Heaven by Jesus good work on the cross. I Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ died for sins once and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.”
We do not have to be perfect to go to Heaven. We simply have to place our faith in the one who is. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” I am thankful that we do not have to be perfect to go to Heaven. I am relieved that I do not have to be “good enough” to go to Heaven. And I am thankful for God’s amazing grace.
Jonathan Howes has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance from Jacksonville State University and a Master in Divinity Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the lead pastor for Graystone Church. Locations include the Ozora Campus: 1551 Ozora Road | Loganville, GA 30052 and the Walton Campus: 723 N Broad St Monroe, GA 30655.