Dear Theophilus: Do Good Works Get You to Heaven?

Posted on November 27, 2018  in  [ Theology & Ministry ]

Dear Faculty,

If a person lives a morally good life but doesn’t believe in God, do they go to Heaven?

Sincerely,

Theophilus

Dear Theophilus,

At the heart of your question is the question of reality. What is real? Is God real? Is Heaven real? Is the Bible the Word of God and therefore true? These questions all impact your question for if God is not real, then the Bible is not the Word of God or true and Heaven is not a real place for we learn about Heaven in the Bible. Of course, other religions have their version of an afterlife, but it is not in Heaven since the concept of Heaven is only found in the Bible and Heaven is the place where the God of Scripture lives. So, if God is not real, then no one goes to Heaven for Heaven is not real and the Bible is not true.

However, if the God of Scripture is real, then Heaven is real and the Bible is the Word of God and true. For every Christian with a Christian Worldview, the Bible is our only source of authority for what we believe. If something is found in the Bible, we should believe it and if something contradicts the Bible, we should believe the Bible. For that reason, it is important to see what the Bible says about this question. According to Scripture, not only must a person believe in God, but they must also believe in and accept Jesus Christ. Jesus also stressed this point when He said: “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John14:6).

Most people are familiar with the following passage from Scripture where Jesus said: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). But most people are not familiar with this passage: “Whoever believes in him (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18). As you can see, not only is a belief in God important, but belief in Jesus is also required. If we do not believe in Jesus, then we are condemned and do not spend eternity in the presence of God and Jesus Christ (Revelation 20:11-15).

However, if a person believes in and accepts Jesus Christ, then Heaven is a realistic expectation. The Apostle Paul said the following to the believers who had accepted Jesus Christ in the ancient city of Philippi. “But our citizenship is in heaven and from it, we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

While everyone has the right to believe whatever they choose to believe, it does not mean that what they believe is true. For those of us who profess the Christian Faith, we choose to believe in Jesus Christ and that the Bible is God’s Word and still relevant to our everyday lives. What have you chosen to believe?

Interested in having a question answered by Dear Theophilus writers? Send them all to cotblog@gcu.edu with “Dear Theophilus” in the subject line. You can learn more about GCU’s College of Theology by visiting our website or clicking the Request More Information button.

Joe Stanley, M.Div.

Faculty, College of Theology

Joe Stanley is a proud Texan from San Antonio. He has 25 years of experience in small church pastoral ministry. He has a degree in Christian Education, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, a Master of Divinity and is currently working on his Doctor of Ministry. He and his wife Glenda have 2 children and 1 grandchild.

Learn more about Joe Stanley, M.Div.

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