By Martin Duffield
How good do you have to be to go to Heaven? According to Jesus, Heaven is a place of perfection and purity. God, in whom there is not the slightest trace of evil, and the (loyal) angels, are absolutely perfect and pure.
Worse still for us is the fact that God is so absolutely pure that He cannot tolerate any evil in His presence. This is why He told humans that they could not look upon His "face" and live1. God "dwells in unapproachable light"2 and He "is a consuming fire".3 So how can we, who are not perfectly good, go to a perfect Heaven, even if God wanted us to?
Well, access to Heaven is a bit like access to another country. We cannot go to another country without a document (a visa) declaring that we are a suitable person to visit or live there. If we have a criminal record or we are in some other way offensive to that people or culture, they will not accept us.
Similarly, we are considered undesirable or unsuitable for Heaven because we have broken God's eternal laws. Just as a criminal on earth has a criminal "record" that would bar them from another country. So it is with Earth and Heaven. God has ten laws or commandments and humans break many, if not most, in some way, every day in thought, word and action.
The biblical word for these breaches of God's Law is "sin." Though people tend to think of "sins" these days as "naughty" things you do and then laugh about, however, in God's sight they are serious offenses against Him. The Bible says the consequences of sin is everlasting exclusion from God's perfect presence and punishment for our crimes in Hell. Thus, none of us are good enough! Thankfully God has provided a way for us.
God, like governments, can exercise mercy and make access possible – through a pardon. He did this by meeting the demands of our punishment for breaking His laws. Jesus, God the Son, came from Heaven, and was born as a man to pay the penalty for our "crimes" against Him on the Cross on the first Good Friday – just as people now pay the fines of others to free them from the consequences of their crimes.
So, if you (a) accept that you have broken God's laws, (b) trust Christ to have paid for those "crimes" for you and (c) genuinely desire to turn away (i.e. repent) from a life of disobedience, to love and obey God (with His promised help), then you receive a pardon and access to Heaven. God will forgive all your violations of His law – no matter how serious – and clear your "criminal record." You will be accepted as good enough because through Christ your offences are removed. God will see you, through Jesus, as righteous. You will not only get your "visa" to Heaven, but you will be able to say, "But (my) citizenship is in Heaven. And (I) eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ..."4 •
(1) Exodus 33, verse 20. (2) 1 Timothy 6, verse 16. (3) Hebrews 12:29. (4) Philippians 3:20