In one episode of The Simpsons, Homer meets God and is asked to give an account of his actions. He says ‘I’m not a bad guy. I work hard, I love my kids,’ and the god in the Simpsons befriends Homer and it’s implied Homer will be in heaven.
Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the Simpsons or not, this is the commonly held view in our world about getting to heaven. The view is, that if you do good things you’ll go to heaven.
It’s such a widely circulated belief that you may not even realise it exists. But it’s everywhere. When somebody does something helpful we say they’re a saint or an angel (and saints / angels go to heaven, not hell, don’t they?). At funerals, people tell you all the good things that the person’s done and then say things like, ‘I know he’s / she’s looking down on us from above.’
This belief is carried on quite subtly in most TV shows and movies too. It’s everywhere in our world. Most people believe it, we say to ourselves ‘I’m not a bad person. I do my homework, I set the table when I’m asked.’ God must be happy with me.
But people who think that doing good things will get them into heaven, are in for a very devastating surprise.
The scriptures tell us that we all 'fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). This means no one is good enough to go to heaven. None of us can be good enough, or work hard enough, or do enough of the right things, to get to heaven. God's pass mark is 100%. So no matter how helpful we’ve been, how much money we’ve donated, how much we love our family, no one has good enough marks to get into heaven.
Everyone who is in heaven, will be there NOT on their own merit. The only way to get to heaven is by trusting in Jesus' death on the cross for our forgiveness, and following him. Jesus gives all who trust in him a free entry pass to get into heaven, even though we don't deserve it.
‘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.’ Ephesians 2:8-9