Can we get into Heaven on good works?
I was getting a haircut at my local barber’s shop and struck up a conversation with the woman cutting my hair about Jesus. She informed me she was a lesbian and that Jesus didn’t have many good things to say about her life choices, so she just ignores Him. I asked then how she planned on getting into Heaven. She replied that Jesus and her had a deal worked out, and that she’d only need a few minutes to tell Him about all the good works she’s done, and that it’d be a cinch He’d let her in.
I proceeded to ask her how if she felt Jesus rejected her lifestyle, why any good works she did would matter to Him, and then proceeded to share the Gospel with her. By the time I was done explaining that Jesus did the only work necessary for eternal life and that if we accepted Him as Lord and Savior we would enter Heaven, we realized we were the only people talking in the whole shop, and everybody was listening in. There was a dead silence I’d never experienced before as all eyes were upon us. I finally paid my bill and headed out, noticing how all of the sudden the television became very interesting to everyone. They turned the volume up, but only blank eyes watched.
Dr. David Reagan in his newest book, Eternity: Heaven or Hell?, explains just exactly what is necessary for salvation, and why no work we do here on Earth no matter how important merits us before God to allow us to live with Him forever. I recently interviewed Dr. Reagan concerning salvation being truly apart from our works, and here now is the sixth question in this interview series concerning what to expect in the afterlife. I also threw in a quick seventh question, because seven is, well, God’s favorite number.
Dr. Reagan: That is the greatest lie of Satan. And, it is all over the world, this idea that you can earn your way to Heaven. Ask most people, “Do you think you will go to Heaven when you die?” And, they will say, “Well, you know, I’ve got a lot of sins and I have done a lot of bad things, but I am a lot better than a fellow I know down the street from me.” We always start comparing ourselves to somebody we know who is worse. God does not grade on the curve, though. He grades on the cross.
I interviewed Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church about a year or two ago, and in that interview he made a comment that I will never forget. He said, “You know what separates Christianity from every other religion in the world. Every other religion of the world is spelled “D-O” — Do. You must do this, you must do that, you must do this, you must do that. And, if you do all those things maybe you can get into Heaven. But, Christianity of all the religions of the world is spelled “D-O-N-E” — Done. Jesus did everything that was necessary on the cross. It is for us to reach out and receive that gift.”
The Bible is very specific about salvation apart from any works man can do. In Ephesians 2:8 it says, “By grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not as a result of works so that no one should boast.” If you think you can do it on your own, then you are earning it. But, Jesus Christ earned it for us by sacrificing Himself on the cross, and it is a matter of us reaching out in faith to Jesus and receiving Him as Lord and Savior, which is the only we will be allowed into Heaven.
I’d like to know if I am going to be floating around in Heaven forever as a disembodied spirit?
Dr. Reagan: No, no, that is a very common misconception. We are never going to be disembodied spirits. We have a natural body now. We are going to have an intermediate spirit body after death and then at the time of the Resurrection we are going to have this body reconstituted and glorified and made permanent.
The Bible is full of the evidence of this. Take the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, both of them had some sort of body after they died. They talked to each other and they recognized each other. In Revelation 7 we are told that when the Tribulation martyrs come out of the Tribulation after their deaths, they stand before the Throne of God in white robes waving palm branches and worshipping the Lord.
So, no, we will not exist as disembodied spirits.
Nathan Jones: And that is good news!
What will happen when you die? This and many other questions about death and its aftermath are dealt with in this book, based upon biblical answers.
In addition, Dr. Reagan deals with questions pertaining to salvation: Are there many roads to God? Can salvation be earned through good works? Can salvation be lost? He also takes an in-depth look at the resurrection of Jesus, examining the evidence for it and discussing its essentiality to the Christian faith.