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“Thou shalt have no other god before me.”  (Exodus 20:3 KJV)

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Is Being A good Person = A Ticket To Heaven?

October 16, 2013

A lot of people think that being a “good person” is enough to get them into Heaven.

Like - maybe they’ll get the cheap seats -
get to hang around the edges - or something like that?

But - is it true?


You hear this a lot -
someone’s not worried about going to Hell -
because - they say - they’re basically a good person -
they believe in God -
they even believe in Jesus.

At least -
they believe in their concept of God and Jesus.

That raises another question -
is it necessary to believe in the “real God” and the “real Jesus” in order to go to Heaven?


This is what got me partially started on the first of the monster articles.
Then I read Demon, a memoir, by Tosca Lee.
Then I was working on getting some of the Screwtape Letters study guides on line.

Then - I must have stepped into the way-back time machine -
because I was thinking about the old math / logic conditions of necessary and sufficient.


Rephrasing the questions then, we have -

  1. Is being a “good” person” a sufficient condition to get into Heaven?
  2. Is believing in the “real God” and the “real Jesus” a necessary condition to get into Heaven?

At least that’s how they’d be worded based on the first few paragraphs here.


Before going any further - I’d like to put one restriction on this discussion.
Namely - this applies only to people who are aware of who Jesus is.
Anything other than that - logically - if the condition was necessary -
would mean the person who has no knowledge of Jesus is doomed to Hell.
I don’t believe this is true -
I do believe there is evidence in the Bible to say it is not true -
plus it’s against the nature of a loving God.

More on that later.

Having said all that -
not knowing about Jesus is a condition that doesn’t apply to anyone reading this article -
because - by the act of reading this -
even if you’ve never heard of Jesus before (however unlikely that is) -
now you have!
As soon as you had that first contact with someone who made Jesus known to you -
no matter how it happened -
you became a member of the group of people who know about Jesus.

Therefore -
if you’re reading this -
you are subject to the necessary and sufficient questions raised above.


Just in case - I’m also going to include a very brief section of necessary and sufficient conditions.

A necessary condition is one where something (item a) is required for something else (item b) to be true / exist / happen.

A commonly used example for this is (item a) is air and (item b) is a person to be alive.

What we have then is the question of -
is air necessary for a person to be alive?

The answer - of course - is yes.

It is necessary for air to exist (except maybe while holding our breath) in order for someone to live (until they can’t hold their breath anymore).  I mean - let’s not get ridiculous with the exceptions - it’s necessary in ordinary life situation.

The same question can be asked as a sufficient condition.

Is it having air a sufficient condition for someone to be alive.

We saw it was necessary to have air in order to live -
However - it is not sufficient to have air in order to sustain human life.
At some point - water and food will be required.

This is the beginner’s guide to how necessary and sufficient conditions work.



By the way - there’s also an example of necessary and sufficient in the Bible -
so let’s talk about that too.

We read about it in Matthew 4:1-4 - the first temptation of Jesus by the devil.

The Temptation of Jesus

Mt 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  

Mt 4:2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  

Mt 4:3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Mt 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”


So we see -

“Bread” is a necessary condition for man to live -
but “Bread” is not a sufficient condition for a person to live.

The Word of God is also a necessary condition for a person to live.
given that we are physical beings - Jesus is not saying that the Word of God is sufficient to support human life - but that it is necessary to have life -
life to the fullest -
life the way God planned it for us.
Anything less than that is not being fully alive.

We see now then -
there’s another condition added to our example.

Instead of “to be alive” -
we now have “to be fully alive”.


Let’s ask those questions again.

Is bread a necessary condition for a person to be fully alive?
Yes - it is.

Is the Word of God a necessary condition for a person to be fully alive?
Yes - it is.

But now - let’s go back to the original conditions.

Is bread a necessary condition for a person to be alive?
Yes - it is.

Is the Word of God a necessary condition for a person to be alive?
No - it is not.  Alive could be mere existence - without God -
but still “alive” - as in still breathing / drinking / eating with no concern about God.

So we see also -
it’s important to understand and clearly define the terms of the conditions -
as shown by the difference between “being fully alive” and merely “being alive”.


Who knew -
math logic in the Bible?
And so important too.


There are so many different examples to choose -
but I feel led to use when Jesus spoke of The Sheep and the Goats - from Matthew 25:31-46.

The Sheep and the Goats

Mt 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.  32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Mt 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Mt 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

Mt 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Mt 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

Mt 25:44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

Mt 25:45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Mt 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”


Let’s take a look at what we have here -
what are the things available to look at necessary and sufficient conditions?


To start with - (item b) as we called it above -
that would be “eternal life in the kingdom” - or “eternal punishment”.

Then - (item a) would be the various conditions that would result in either of those two outcomes.

In order to make it simple -
let’s just say the desired outcome is eternal life in the kingdom -
and that anything not leading to eternal life is - by definition - going to lead to eternal punishment.

In other words -
since there are only two possible outcomes -
attaining eternal life in the kingdom is both necessary and sufficient to escape eternal punishment.

That’s pretty simple logic - no?

Yes - life really can be that straightforward - if we let it.
In fact - in the end - it will be that straightforward -
because it’s not up to us.


Now - getting back to the original questions - posed in this framework -
using only necessary -
not getting into sufficient yet -
in order to make it simpler to understand.


  1. Is being a “good” person” a necessary condition to spend eternity in the kingdom?
  2. Is believing in the “real God” and the “real Jesus” a necessary condition to spend eternity in the kingdom?


First of all - let’s look at “being a good person”.

Mt 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

This was spoken to the people who were surprised to be chosen for life in the kingdom -
because they weren’t aware of ever having done anything for the king.

Mt 25:45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

This was spoken to the people who were surprised to not be chosen for life in the kingdom -
because they weren’t aware of ever having bypassed the king in his time of need.

In essence - what it comes down to is this -

What we see again is that restrictions get put on the conditions.
In this case -
it has to do with the definition of “good person”.
Obviously - there’s a mismatch between what the people thought and what the king said.
Just as obvious -
it doesn’t matter what the people thought “good person” meant -
because it’s the king that makes the final decision - not the people -
therefore it’s only the kings definition that really counts.
Not knowing that  -
or refusing to believe it -
yields the inevitable result from our realization about regarding the two choices -

In other words -
since there are only two possible outcomes -
attaining eternal life in the kingdom is both necessary and sufficient to escape eternal punishment.

In this case -
missing out on eternal life in the kingdom is a direct result of mis-defining “good person”.

Again - it’s not our definition that counts -
it’s the one that Jesus applies.


What about believing the the “real God” / the “real Jesus”?

Well - given that we saw the necessity of believing in Jesus’ definition of “good person” -
one would expect the answer to be - yes -
it’s necessary to believe in the “real Jesus” to be able to spend eternity in the kingdom.

In Chapter 14 of John -
Jesus explains that He is the way to the Father -
and that the Father will be sending His Holy Spirit.

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

Jn 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.  2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”


Jesus the Way to the Father

Jn 14:5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jn 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Jn 14:8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jn 14:9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.  11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.  12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.


Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

Jn 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.  16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—  17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

Jn 14:22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Jn 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

Jn 14:25 “All this I have spoken while still with you.  26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Jn 14:28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.  29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.  30 I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me,  31 but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

“Come now; let us leave.

The “reader’s Digest” version of this is -
as my mother has said -
“Jesus is everything”.

No matter what else she may think -
right / wrong / confused -
she’s got that one part down -
Jesus is everything.

So -
believing in the “real Jesus” is a necessary condition for spending eternity in the kingdom.


But -
are there restrictions on what “believing in Jesus” means?

It seems that it’s possible to think we know Jesus - but not really know him.
Is there any other evidence of that?

Yes - we see it in Luke 13:22-30 -
When Jesus talks about The Narrow Door -

The Narrow Door

Lk 13:22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.  23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them,  24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.  25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

Lk 13:26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

Lk 13:27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

Lk 13:28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.  29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.  30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

Again - we see people surprised about whether Jesus knows them -
from which we can also conclude -
they didn’t really know Jesus either.

Again -

Knowing Jesus (the real Jesus) is a necessary condition to spending eternity in the kingdom.



This begs the earlier question -
how can we know whether the Jesus we think we know is the “real Jesus”?

I would submit that we weren’t left with no way to tell.
That’s not a character trait from a loving God -
leaving us to stumble about aimlessly -
hoping that somehow / sometime we’d find the magic key -
to unlock the hidden door (which we also had to stumble across) -
and then somehow just “know” this is the real thing.

No -
that sounds more like a fantasy video game.


Remember how - in the beginning -
God spoke everything into existence?

Everything - with one exception, that is.

Ge 2:4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens—  5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground,  6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground—  7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found.  21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.  22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

That one notable exception - it’s us!

The earlier instances in Genesis when God was creating things -
it was always God “said” -
with the Hebrew word translated as:



The use of the word “said” is not a trivial thing -
that God can and did create everything around us by speaking -
that’s truly amazing.

But - with us -
I can’t believe it just happens to say something different -
like it’s not an indication of something special about us -
just like the Bible says we’re special to God.

So - for Adam it says -

7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

And for Eve it says -

21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.  22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Not just “God said” and Adam & Eve were created.

Let’s look at the key words again -

God formed the man from the dust of the ground
Formed -






God could have spoken Adam into existence -
but He chose not to.

Note again -
He chose not to.
God chose to do something special with Adam -
to actively / physically take part in the act of forming Adam.
It seems like so much more of a personal thing -
which would make sense -
given that God wants a relationship with us -
something far different than the other things He created on this planet for us.


God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man
made -



Again - we see God getting personally involved with Eve -
just as with Adam -
not speaking her into existence - but making her from Adam’s rib.


breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
The breath of -




Life -





Think about that for a while.

Instead of speaking us into existence -
as God did with everything else He created -

He was involved directly in forming us -
and gave us the breath of life -
directly from Himself!

Tell me that’s not special.


But -
as awesome as that is -
think about the implications of that -
being personally made by God -
receiving the breath of life directly from Him.


Why would He do that?

Was there some reason for God getting so personal about creating us?

Maybe so he could create that connection between us as physical beings and our souls?

Maybe so that part of Him was in us?

So maybe were weren’t abandoned to blindly find our own way?
Maybe part of Him was given to us by the very act of creation?
Something we have that no other of His creations have?

With all that -
and more that I haven’t even thought of -

It is possible for us to know the “real God” and the “real Jesus” -
without actually ever “knowing” them in the sense that we use the word.


Think about it (yes - again with the thinking).

Jesus gives us examples of people who didn’t know Him / recognize Him -
but were still invited to spend eternity in the Kingdom.
How can that be?

It can easily be -
if they “knew” Him because of this breath of life received from God.


What about the others who thought they knew Him - but didn’t?

God does gives us the free will to choose to deny His existence.
We do have the free will to have a warped sense of who God is -
making Him in our image - as opposed to us made in His image.
We have the free will to choose to ignore - of even deny - Him.
We have the free will to totally ignore that breath of life He gives to us.


But if we hang on to that breath if life -
if we continue to know Him -
if we live as Jesus would have defined a “good person” -
we will be invited to spend eternity in the kingdom.


Now - remember that part about more later for the non-Christians?

I think this is a two part issue.

For someone who has not been introduced by anyone to Christianity -
to Jesus -
I believe - although many don’t -
the Bible shows that they are not automatically excluded from Heaven.

However -
very strong however -
for those of us that have been introduced to Jesus -
I don’t believe we have that option.
To try to claim being a “good person” -
while at the same time denying Jesus -
or while trying to make Jesus in our image -
I don’t think that’s gonna fly.
I believe those people will be the ones to whom He says - I never knew you.



So - one last time - back to the questions -


  1. Is being a “good” person” a necessary condition to spend eternity in the kingdom?
  2. Is believing in the “real God” and the “real Jesus” a necessary condition to spend eternity in the kingdom?


We’ve already seen that knowing the “real Jesus” is a necessary condition for spending eternity in the kingdom.

We’ve also seen that being a “good person” - using Jesus’ definition - is also a necessary condition for spending eternity in the kingdom.


Let’s take that logic one step further -
and say that -

Not only are these two things necessary -
they are in fact the same.
If we know the real Jesus - as described above -
we will be the “good person” described above as well.

Not that we are perfect -
but when we know Jesus -
really know Jesus -
the kind of knowing that means He knows us --
we can’t help but try to be that “good person” -
because we’re trying to be like Him.


One final step -

Not only is the condition (or combined conditions if you wish) necessary -
it is also sufficient.

There’s nothing else needed.


How fully we live our lives here on earth is up to us -

But -

I think we can conclude that -

Truly knowing Jesus - and therefore being known by Him -
is both necessary and sufficient to spending eternity in the kingdom.


We see evidence of this in John 6:25-51 -


Jesus the Bread of Life

Jn 6:25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jn 6:26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.  27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

Jn 6:28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

Jn 6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Jn 6:30 So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?  31 Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Jn 6:32 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.  33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Jn 6:34 “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”

Jn 6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.  36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.  37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.  38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.  39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.  40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Jn 6:41 At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”  42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

Jn 6:43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered.  44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.  45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.  46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.  47 I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.  48 I am the bread of life.  49 Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died.  50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.  51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”


And there we have it -
in the middle of people asking a simple question - what works does God require?
     
“What must we do to do the works God requires?”
They get a simple answer - believe in Me.
     
“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
But then spend the rest of the time grumbling - rather than accept the simple answer.
     
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered.  44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.



What choices are you making?

What are the conditions of your life -
and what conclusion will come from it?