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Best Free Book About God "Goodness Attains Heaven?" Pt 1 Ch 7




 The Lie: Doing lots of good deeds will get a person into heaven


A common denominator among most religions in the world is the belief that a person’s destiny is determined by a gauge composed of moral, ethical, and religious standards.  Usually, the attainment of one’s highest destiny is dependent upon strictly adhering to those prescribed standards.  And, although the standards may vary between religions, in each case they are designed to accomplish a similar goal; they provide man with an opportunity, and the means, to “earn” his way into heaven through “good works”.  They also satisfy an egotistical human notion which says that man is capable of becoming his own savior.  However, in this respect, the true Christian faith is diametrically opposed to the religions of the world.

One of the greatest obstacles which Jesus had to contend with during His earthly ministry was the religiosity of many of the ancient Jews.  Many of the Jewish religious leaders had developed attitudes of “self-righteousness” which stemmed from their outward display of obedience to the laws of Moses and Judaism.  Many were convinced that their religious efforts deserved God’s favor, and because of this, an air of egotistical pride was often prevalent among their ranks.

Jesus earnestly endeavored to expose the fallacy of such humanistic reasoning throughout His ministry.  He fervently denounced the self-righteousness of the religious leaders in no uncertain terms.  And, during one particular confrontation with them, He said:  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the out side appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27, 28).

Throughout His ministry, Jesus strived to demonstrate how God judges the inner thoughts and motives of an individual as well as the outward behavior.  He also set forth God’s supreme standards of inner moral perfection and emphasized the necessity of complying with each righteous requirement before being able to “earn” eternal life with God by doing good works.  In other words, man would have to live his entire life without committing one single sin in order to attain heaven by human effort.  And obviously, since God’s requirement for eternal life is absolute perfection, there is no human being who is able to merit heaven through good works since each individual has been guilty of violating many of God’s righteous standards.  (The sinful nature of man, and God’s remedy for it, were discussed in the preceding chapter).

Of course, many of the Jewish religious leaders of Christ’s day acted as though they had achieved special favor by outwardly obeying the Ten Commandments and other laws which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai.  However Jesus, in order to illustrate just how difficult it would be for any person to actually live by the supreme governing principles behind the Ten Commandments, gave His famous “sermon on the mount.”  Imagine how shocked the scribes and Pharisees must have been when they heard Jesus make statements like:  “You have heard the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raca,’ (an insult) shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘you fool’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” . . .“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY;’ but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:21,22,27,28).

Jesus taught many other idealistic principles concerning God’s perfect kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount; but, just His two statements about murder and adultery are certainly enough to convict most people of violating God’s laws.  In His sermon, Jesus was voicing God’s concern about the inner thoughts and motives from which physical acts are conceived.  For example, adulterous thoughts can lead to actually committing the physical act of adultery while anger and disrespect for others can ultimately culminate in the act of murder.  Nobody could ever commit adultery without first thinking about it nor could they commit murder without first having anger or a disregard for human life because thoughts are the source of our human actions.

The only time that anger can be justified before God is if the motive for the anger is a pure and righteous one.  God Himself sometimes displayed such anger in the record of the Old Testament and, in some instances, through the life of Jesus Christ Himself.  God’s righteous anger is issued against the proliferation of sinfulness which potentially could cause multitudes of people to lose their souls for all eternity.  His underlying motive for such anger is a love that seeks to prevent the widespread destructiveness of evil in order to see as few people perish as possible.

This “pure” anger was sometimes revealed in the life of Jesus as well. For example; at one time, when Jesus entered the temple in Jerusalem, He became righteously indignant when He saw that the temple resembled a thieves market.  God’s house of prayer was being used to conduct dishonest business transactions amid a carnival-type atmosphere.  As a result of this situation, Jesus became angry and overturned the merchandise tables and drove the moneychangers completely out of the sanctuary (and yet some people question the masculinity of Jesus).  As Jesus did this, He sternly proclaimed:  “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER;’ but you are making it a ROBBERS DEN” (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46)

Jesus was carrying out the express will of the Father when He drove the moneychangers out of the temple.  His actions were directed by a holy regard for God’s word which said:  “…MY HOUSE WILL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER…” (Isaiah 56:7).  It is also obvious that Jesus was deeply motivated by love, since, immediately after He cleansed the temple of corruption, He began healing the lame and the blind within its walls (Matthew 21:14).

Unfortunately we sinful humans seldom display such justifiable anger.  Normally our angry feelings and outbursts stem from trivial inconveniences, selfishness, assaults to our ego, or just pent up hostility.  On rare occasions however, even our human anger is justified.  For example, it would not be wrong for a loving father to become angry if somebody tried to assault one of his children.  It would, however, become wrong if the father sustained a prolonged anger over the isolated incident because a festering anger accomplishes nothing but more harm - especially to the individual who harbors it!  Therefore, God expects us to forgive the wrongs which we commit against each other, just as He (because of Jesus) forgives the wrongs we commit against Him. Unfortunately, many of us are hesitant to heed God’s instructions and then even our legitimate anger becomes sinful.

Since therefore only a small fraction of our human anger is blameless, the remainder is considered by God to be as deserving of judgment as murder, according to Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.  Because of this, it would require only one single instance of unrighteous anger to ruin one’s chances of attaining heaven by his or her own good merits, since God requires perfection.  And obviously, there has never been a grown person in the world (except Jesus Himself) who could honestly say that he, or she, has met this one standard of perfection, let alone the many other standards set forth in Christ’s’ sermon on the mount.

Inside Out


The apostles of Christ also echoed messages of man’s imperfection and unworthiness to merit the kingdom of Heaven.  They made declarations such as:  “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.’ (James 2:10); “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (I John 1:8); “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23); “But the scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (Galatians 3:22).

The apostles also made it absolutely clear that salvation is not obtained by striving for human betterment.  The Apostle Paul wrote:  “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5,6).  Paul also said:  “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that-not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).

Does this then mean that the apostles were not concerned about whether or not Christians endeavored to live decent, moral lives which were marked by good works?  Absolute not!  In fact they adamantly insisted upon Godly living among Christians; not in order to obtain salvation, but because they had already obtained salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, Christian works are not to be a means of salvation, but rather a result of salvation.

When people commit their lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit begins to encourage them to follow Christ’s example.  As they heed the inner voice of the Spirit, and desire to please God, the Holy Spirit empowers them to do so.  Good works become an outward demonstration of the sanctifying process of God which first begins cleansing the inside of an individual, and then proceeds outward; unlike the humanistic process of merely cleaning up the outside behavior while the inside remains corrupt.

Just as a seed, which is planted in the ground and watered, will eventually produce a mature plant; so also will a living faith in Jesus, nourished by the Holy Spirit, produce a life that is characterized by high moral and ethical standards.  (The problems which Christians encounter in their service to God were mentioned in the preceding chapter).

A person who has professed to be a Christian for a considerably long period of time, and yet has never displayed any degree of moral improvement (or at least a deep concern for improvement) has probably never truly “believed” in Jesus since true belief would also include a reverent acceptance of Christ’s teachings and commandments.  A person who sincerely believes Christ’s teachings to be true, will be concerned about applying the principles of those teachings to his, or her, own life.  And a legitimate concern (which is not hampered by doubt or unnecessary guilt) will ultimately culminate in desirable behavior through the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

This fact is reinforced in the epistle of James which says: “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?”  (James 2:15, 16).  In other words, James is saying; how sincere would a person be if he expressed his desire for someone to have food and clothing, and yet failed to do something about it by offering him some of his own surplus?  James goes on to say in his letter:  “… show me your faith without the works and I will show you my faith by my works.”  “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:18,26).

Thus, Christian works are an outward sign of an inner saving faith in Jesus.  They are an important part of Christian living but they are not to be misconstrued as some sort of “rungs” upon which a person can slowly climb the “ladder” which leads to Heaven.

Good deeds, of course, are not without their rewards.  Any person, Christian or non-Christian, who practices upright living will find life much more profitable and enjoyable than a person who practices moral decadence.  This is because Cod created man for righteousness and he therefore functions best as he approaches God’s intended purposes.  However, the message of the Bible is that human righteousness, in itself, is greatly inferior to God’s required righteousness. And, although good works are admirable and often reflect responsiveness to the guiding influences of the Holy Spirit, they alone are not sufficient to attain salvation.  This is why it was necessary for Jesus to provide the way to Heaven for mankind.

Unfortunately, even some professing “Christians” inadvertently believe that their good deeds will merit Heaven.  Some think that their weekly attendance of church services will somehow insure their attainment of Heaven, even though they live solely for themselves on the other six days of the week without any regard for, or commitment to the Lord.  Still others act as though their involvement in benevolent social programs somehow deems them worthy of attaining Heaven. Although the actual deeds of such people may be admirable and right, the motives behind the deeds are misguided and dangerous because nobody can earn or merit the Kingdom of Heaven.  Eternal life is a gift from God which can only be obtained by a living faith in Jesus Christ because, “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under Heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved”  (Acts 4:12).

Never too Late


As Jesus hung upon the Cross of Calvary, he was mocked and ridiculed by many of the spectators, and even by two thieves who were crucified on each side of Him (Matthew 27:44).  As death drew near, one of the thieves apparently became filled with remorse and rebuked the other reviling criminal by saying:  “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?  And we indeed justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:40, 41).  After saying this, the criminal turned to the Lord and said; “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your Kingdom.”  And upon hearing his earnest plea, Jesus said:  “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42,43).

The repentant criminal had obviously lived a life that was deserving of capital punishment (by his own admission).  Yet, in the waning moments of his debased existence, he asked Jesus to save him.  He didn’t have time to go out and make amends for his past behavior; he was unable to do any good works to atone for his mistakes; it was not even possible for him to be baptized and yet, because of his sincere faith, Jesus said, “today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Many people claim that it is too late for them to be saved because of their past history of corruption.  Others claim to be unsalvageable because they believe they have committed “the unpardonable sin” of which the Bible speaks.  Usually, such statements are nothing more than excuses to justify a continued rejection of the Christian gospel.  However, in some cases, people have earnestly wanted to have restored fellowship with God through Jesus Christ; but, because they misinterpreted or misunderstood certain Bible passages, they assumed that their salvation was hopeless.

The Bible does speak of an unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit.  In order to understand what the unpardonable sin might be though, it is important to have knowledge of the ministry and mission of the Holy Spirit. According to the Gospel of John, one of the main functions of the Holy Spirit is to, “convict the world concerning righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:8); Jesus also said, of the Holy Spirit:  “He shall glorify Me for He shall take of mine, and shall disclose it to you” (John 16:14).

Undoubtedly, the number one objective of the Holy Spirit is to lead people to salvation through Jesus.  Therefore, the continued rejection of Jesus Christ constitutes a sin against the Holy Spirit because it is the Holy Spirit who strives to reveal the Lordship and saving role of Christ.  In other words, the only sin which Christ’s sacrifice will not atone for is the sin of continued rejection of God’s plan of salvation until finally one dies in that state of rejection.  For this there is no remedy because God will not force anybody to receive His gift of eternal life.  And, unless that person who has rejected Jesus finally accepts Him before death, he becomes hopelessly separated from God forever.

Does this then mean that a person can purposely plan to avoid a commitment to Jesus until just before death?  Absolutely not!  Because this reasoning itself negates the presence of any real desire or sincerity to ever know God.  Plus, such an attitude is futile because, if He wants to, the Lord knows how to “keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment” (II Peter 2:9).  Those who think they can out-smart God by plotting to reject Jesus until before death are sadly mistaken because death might come at an unexpected time.  Therefore, the Bible emphatically teaches that, “…Now is the  ‘acceptable time,’ behold, now is the ‘day of salvation.’ ” (II Corinthians 6:2).

Once a person receives a full and loving revelation of God’s plan of salvation, each day of rejection becomes increasingly dangerous because the inner voice of the Holy Spirit can become ever so distant as one’s heart begins to harden and his conscience slowly becomes seared.  Eventually, it might be possible for a person to become completely sealed off from the influences of the Holy Spirit and thus be prevented from being saved.  But, if this thought worries you or frightens you, then cheer up, because it is not too late for you personally.

If there is even the slightest inclination to be saved, a vague desire, a glimmer of hope or any moral conscience at all left in a person, then the Holy Spirit has not given up on him.  He is still getting through with His task to “convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment,” and, “to glorify” Jesus.  Therefore, any person who can regretfully say, “It’s too late for me to be saved,” is believing a lie; because, if it were really too late, there would be no regret, no guilty conscience or even a slight concern about salvation.

A person’s remorse about his, or her, rejection of Christ is an important indication of the Holy Spirit’s presence; but, it should be remembered that remorse alone does not qualify as true, saving repentance.  (The act of repentance was explained in chapter six).  Judas experienced deep remorse after he betrayed Jesus but, instead of turning to God for forgiveness with a desire to correct the errors of his life, Judas instead destroyed his own life by hanging himself.  He did not wish to serve Jesus, he merely regretted betraying Him.

In contrast, the disciple Peter also experienced deep remorse after he publicly denied having any acquaintance with Jesus.  But, unlike Judas, Peter did not destroy his own life.  Instead, he rededicated it to the Lord Jesus and became one of the most useful, dynamic Christians in all of history.  Peter may never have experienced sinless perfection after he rededicated his life to the Lord; but, he did come to realize the boundless forgiving mercy of the Lord.

The same is true of many of the Old and New Testament saints.  For example, King David arranged the murder of one of his most loyal soldiers in order to conceal the fact that he had been committing adultery with the soldier’s wife; and yet, King David now dwells “in the house of the Lord forever.” And, even Abraham, out of fear for his own life, pretended that his wife was his sister and allowed her to be taken from him by King Abimelech, knowing full well that the King would commit adultery with her.  However, Abraham, in spite of such treachery, became the father of the Jewish nation, a pillar of faith, and a saint for all eternity.

And centuries later the Apostle Paul, before he was converted, persecuted the early Christian church and even participated in the murder of the first recorded Christian martyr.  Nevertheless, Paul went on to become one of the most dedicated, productive Christians who ever lived. The Lord inspired him to write thirteen of the twenty three epistles recorded in the New Testament and he journeyed thousands of miles as a missionary of the gospel for approximately thirty years.

Many modern day saints have likewise experienced the boundless forgiving grace of God. The abundant testimonies of ex-drug addicts, murderers, adulterers, atheists, and even those who purposely renounced Jesus in order to ceremonially worship Satan, demonstrate God’s willingness to forgive any sin, and to save any person who decides to come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how great the stain of one’s sin may be, the blood of Jesus is precious enough to wash away all the sins that have ever been committed on this planet.  However, Jesus cannot cleanse a person who is unwilling to come to Him for salvation.

Those who continuously refuse the grace which God offers may one day find out that it really is too late to be saved because when the delicate thread of mortal life unexpectedly snaps, there will be no more opportunities to receive God’s free gift of eternal life.  And, since death is so unpredictable, it should be re-emphasized that, “now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation.” (II Cor. 6:2) (By Robert Linkey)


The Truth:



“There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)


“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

 (Isaiah 64:6)


All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:6)


“…you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)


“…as it is written, "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;… For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 3:10; 3:23; 6:23)


“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”

Proverb of the Week

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23 NASB)

Psalm of the Week

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come?My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever. (Psalm 121 NASB)

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Is the Bible Truth or Myth?       Is Jesus God, Man or Both?         Is Jesus Dead or Alive?
Is Jesus Coming Back Again?      Is God Cruel or Loving?             Is the Gospel even Real?
Is Heaven Attained by Works?   Many Pathways to Heaven?      Is the Bible Against Science?
Evolution Improves with Time?    Fossils Prove Evolution?           Missing Link Ape-Men?
Origin of Life by Chance?           Reference & Note Section     Bible Truth or Myth? Synopsis
Jesus God Man Both? Synopsis  Jesus Dead or Alive? Synopsis  Jesus Coming Again? Synopsis
Is God Cruel or Loving? Synopsis    Is the Gospel Real? Synopsis  Heaven by Works? Synopsis
Many Paths to Heaven? Synopsis Bible v Science? Synopsis Evolution Improves Life?Synopsis
Fossils Prove Evolution? Synopsis  Missing Link Ape-Men? Synopsis Life by Chance? Synopsis

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