Saturday, October 8, 2011

How "good" does a person have to be, to obtain heaven?

The Gospel of Matthew 19:13-30 (in context), records the account about a wealthy man who asked Jesus Christ: “What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” [Matthew 13:16] His question is, essentially the same question, with which people, on their death beds, often torment themselves.

Why do people torment themselves on their death beds?

To the Christian disciple, this question need not apply. But, for the vast majority of this world's population, this question does, indeed, apply. Why? Because Jesus Christ, Himself, stated, that the road to eternal life [heaven] is narrow and "few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:13-29

The sad and pathetic reality is, that most people will be inwardly tormented on their deathbeds. If they are physically conscious of their impending death they will be anguished with the gnawing questions: "Am I going to be good enough to make the grade? Will I end up in heaven or, will I end up in hell? Is this, all there is?"

The rich man who encountered Christ, instinctively knew that he was missing something of vast importance - Matthew 19:13-30

The wealthy man who encountered Christ would not have sought him out and enquired of Christ, if he did not feel he was missing something of vast importance. Somehow he came to the stark realization that when it was his time to die, he would not be able to take his wealth and comfort of living, with him. He was apprehensive. The thought of the hereafter troubled him and sparked his question. And, his question to Christ, was no surprise.

This rich man’s money, no doubt “bought” him significant influence. He was able to command his own earthly circumstances and arrange his own affairs to live a very comfortable existence. Hands on money, stored away revenue and commanding influence was at his ready disposal, - but, all that would do him no good in the hereafter.

This week the world experienced the passing [death] of a very wealthy man

Steve Jobs was well known, world-wide, for his creative genius. He died last week from complications of the common and dreaded disease of cancer. His passing sparked continued praise in the mainstream media, as numerous news people and commentators paid their respects to a man who changed the world by harnassing computer technology.

One lone commentary about the wealthy and influential, Steve Jobs, that caught my attention, had, as its caption, a very politically incorrect, title. Amidst all the global praise for one of the world’s richest and influential people, this author had the courage to ask a most very important question – and, to follow that question up with some very thoughtful and loving concerns:

“Is Steve Jobs in Hell:?” – by Johnathan Cousar –

How good does a person have to be, to obtain heaven?

The wealthy man spoken of in the historical Gospel narrative, asked the sinless and eternal Christ: “What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” [Matthew 13:16] And, then the conversation with Christ ensued.

In summary, Christ’s interaction with this rich person, exposed this wealthy man’s personal deception. The rich man actually thought that he was good enough to qualify for heaven because he thought that he had kept all of God’s Ten Commandments. But, somehow, he instinctively knew he lacked one more thing. Christ did not point out to him what this man mistakenly believed. [A person, convinced against his own will, is of the same opinion, still]

Rather, Christ challenged the wealthy man to give up what was dearest to his heart – his numerous earthly monetary treasures, and, then, follow Christ, as His disciple. In the short conversation that Christ had with this wealthy man, Christ stripped him bare of his pretenciousness. Christ trumpets His own holiness and the wealthy man, falls short of acting upon his own sinfulness. And, instead of throwing himself upon the forgiving mercies of God and following Christ, he sadly walks away.

The wealthy man, whom Christ encountered, was schizophrenic. On one hand, he realized that heaven was out of his reach. On the other hand, he was of the false notion that he must "do" something to inherit eternal life. The man must have known that heaven was something very special and that it was something outside of his reach of grasp. That is why he used the word, "inherit." Inheriting something as an heir is an action result that is a free gift. Yet, the rich man's sinful human nature schizophrenically overruled him and influenced him to desire to contribute something to gain his future soul's eternal rest.

Scores of people today are no better off than the wealthy man who encountered Christ. They convince themselves that they must somehow tally up some brownie points - that they must do something to earn heaven for themselves. They cannot accept that God's forgiveness, grace and favor and His reward of heaven's glories, are totally, a free gift, entirely, [100%] purchased by the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ who came to live, die and rise from the dead to cancel out God's just punishment of sin in a forever hell.

Friend - Are you deceiving [lying to] yourself as the weathy man who met with Christ?

Scripture tells us that there is not a just man upon earth who does good and sins not. [Ecclesiastes 7:20] The Scriptural Revelation is clear when it states that human nature is “dead in sin.” [Ephesians 2:1] That, blanket observational reality, includes you and me, the whole human race, past, present and future. Romans 3:23

However, your life need not end with you asking the question if you are "good enough" for heaven’s glories. Your life need not end with you dying in your sins. Your life need not end with you deceiving yourself that you had paved your own way to heaven by your own intentions, efforts and goodness. Isaiah 64:6 ; Proverbs 20:9 ; Isaiah 53:6

The Bible tells us that the Messiah Christ, was God’s sinless Messenger of Word and Action, who came to die for our sinful existence – completely taking upon Himself (in our place) God’s future eternal punishment [hell] for all our sins of thought, word and deed, committed against His holy Commandments. Christ’s sinless birth, life and suffering, death and resurrection are the Triune God’s loving gift for you. Heaven cannot be the holy heaven it is, with sinful souls. Hence, the blood sacrifice of Christ to cover all your earthly sins. It is only through Christ’s sacrificial blood and His righteousness [holiness] that you will ever experience eternal life, rather than eternal death.

May God’s Holy Spirit move you to believe and to receive Christ’s gift of forgiveness for you. [John 1:11-13] May you be clothed with Christ’s robes (garments) of holiness. Matthew 22:1-14 ; Philippians 3:8-9 ; 1 Corinthians 1:30 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21 ; Galatians 2:16 ; Galatians 3:11 ; 2 Peter 1:1 May God the Holy Spirit grant you the faith to believe in Christ!


Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

Also: For a couple of other (more formal) worship formats:

The Order of Morning Service
The Order of Matins

Old Testament:

Psalm 1:1f – The Righteous and the Wicked compared and contrasted

New Testament

Matthew 22:1-14 – Christ’s parable of the wedding feast and the man who had no wedding garment

Philippians 3:7-9 – Clothed with Christ’s righteousness

Ephesians 2:1-10 – How the righteousness of Christ becomes the believing soul’s

Other Scriptures:

Matthew 7:13-21
John 10:1-18
John 3:14-21

Note: The following hymn lyrics (verses) explain that as sinners, our condition is so fallen, that we cannot attain heaven without the grace of God, totally, based upon the work and merits of Jesus Christ:

"Salvation unto us has Come"

1. Salvation unto us has come
By God's free grace and favor;
Good works cannot avert our doom,
They help and save us never.
Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone,
Who did for all the world atone;
He is our one Redeemer.

2. What God did in His Law demand
And none to Him could render
Caused wrath and woe on every hand
For man, the vile offender.
Our flesh has not those pure desires
The spirit of the Law requires,
And lost is our condition.

3. It was a false, misleading dream
That God His Law had given
That sinners should themselves redeem
And by their works gain heaven.
The Law is but a mirror bright
To bring the inbred sin to light
That lurks within our nature.

4. From sin our flesh could not abstain,
Sin held its sway unceasing;
The task was useless and in vain,
Our gilt was e'er increasing.
None can remove sin's poisoned dart
Or purify our guileful heart,-
So deep is our corruption.

5. Yet as the Law must be fulfilled
Or we must die despairing,
Christ came and hath God's anger stilled,
Our human nature sharing.
He hath for us the Law obeyed
And thus the Father's vengeance stayed
Which over us impended.

6. Since Christ hath full atonement made
And brought to us salvation,
Each Christian therefore may be glad
And build on this foundation.
Thy grace alone, dear Lord, I plead,
Thy death is now my life indeed,
For Thou hast paid my ransom.

7. Let me not doubt, but trust in Thee,
Thy Word cannot be broken;
Thy call rings out, "Come unto Me!"
No falsehood hast Thou spoken.
Baptized into Thy precious name,
My faith cannot be put to shame,
And I shall never perish.

8. The Law reveals the guilt of sin
And makes men conscience-stricken;
The Gospel then doth enter in
The sinful soul to quicken.
Come to the cross, trust Christ, and live;
The Law no peace can ever give,
No comfort and no blessing.

9. Faith clings to Jesus' cross alone
And rests in Him unceasing;
And by its fruits true faith is known,
With love and hope increasing.
Yet faith alone doth justify,
Works serve thy neighbor and supply
The proof that faith is living.

10. All blessing, honor, thanks, and praise
To Father, Son, and Spirit,
The God that saved us by His grace,-
All glory to His merit!
O Triune God in heaven above,
Who hast revealed Thy saving love,
Thy blessed name be hallowed.

Note: Source of the above hymn lyrics - TLH / CPH. 1941

Click here to lead you to the listed hymn and its musical tune


Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

Pastor (emeritus) Nathan Bickel

Please also note:

The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

The Christian Faith: Parts 1-3

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