YOU CAN’T GET TO HEAVEN ALONE!

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We need each other. It is easier to do right when there are others to encourage us (Ecclesiastes 4:10, 11). But that is not the focus of this tract. Many people believe they can get to heaven alone-with only one of God’s list of salvation essentials.  Interestingly,  the  word  “alone”  is  found  108  times  in  Scripture (37 times in the New Testament) but is never used with any one of the twenty-six different things to which salvation is attributed.  Let’s examine some of the ways that people try to get to heaven “alone.”

SOME TRY TO GET TO HEAVEN BY GOODNESS ALONE.

The majority of Americans seem to believe that all a person has to do in order to go to heaven is be a “good person.” Sure, rapists, drug pushers, and child molesters will be lost; but if you try to be a “good person,” you’ll surely be in heaven.

While it is commendable to be good, of course, our goodness alone is insufficient. Jesus said, in the truest sense,  “there is none good but one,  that  is,  God” (Matthew 19:17). In this context, the rich young ruler was very “good.”  He had not done such bad things as murder, adultery, stealing, or testifying  falsely. He had, rather, done such good things as honoring his parents and loving his neighbors (19:18, 19). In spite of his goodness, Jesus said that something was lacking before heavenly treasure would be his (19:21). When he was unwilling to take the advice, this “good man” passed on a ticket to heaven (19:23).

Cornelius is another example.  He was a “devout man…feared God with all his house…gave much alms to the people and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:2). A very good man!  Yet,  he  needed  to  hear  words  whereby he and his house could be saved (Acts 11:13, 14). We cannot get to heaven by our goodness alone.

SOME TRY TO GET TO HEAVEN BY THE LOVE OF GOD ALONE.

Some believe God’s love alone guarantees them a home in heaven. “A loving God would never send me to an eternal hell” is the thinking. Needless to say, none of us could be save without God’s love. Nonetheless, God’s love alone does not save.

Carried to its logical conclusion, this would mean that every person would be saved since God loves the whole world (John 3:16, 17). But the Bible says that the majority of people will not be saved  (Matthew 7:13, 14).  God loves everybody, but God saves only the obedient (Hebrews  5:8,  9; “continue,” Romans 11:22).  Those who don’t know God and fail to obey Christ will be lost in spite of the love of God. Paul wrote,” …when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire takeing vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

God’s love is counterbalanced by God’s justice.  His character demands that He punish all sin that not been forgiven (Romans 3:23-26).  God’s love makes heaven possible, but love alone will not carry one there.

SOME TRY TO GET TO HEAVEN BY WORKS ALONE.

Some believe as long as they do enough good works, God will save them. Many at judgment will try to get through the gate in this way. Jesus explained:  “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matthew 7:22).  Their  “wonderful works” could include such things as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, visiting those in prison, attending religious services, community involvement, giving to charities, reading Bibles, helping the oppressed, and caring for widows, orphans, and abused children/spouses (cf. Matthew 25).

Jesus does not dispute their claim of good works. Yet, in spite of these deeds, He says will profess to them, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23).  He was not condemning good works, of course, but was stressing that they are not enough. Paul wrote that salvation is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy…” (Titus 3:5).

In Jesus’ discussion of the Judgment Day, He continues, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21; cf. 28:20). This submission to God’s will differs from trying to be saved by our own works. The Jews tried to do the latter and were rejected: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3).

Further, salvation has to do with where a person is. We can only give God glory in the church (Ephesians 3:21). In God’s view, every mature person is either in the world or in the church (Christ’s body) (Ephesians 2:12, 13).  Every saved person is in the church, because that is where God put him when He saved him (Acts 2:47). Good works are “good” but not good enough for salvation.

SOME TRY TO GET TO HEAVEN BY GRACE ALONE.

Some are convinced that God’s grace is all they need to get to heaven. It is true that none would make it without God’s marvelous grace. Paul said, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). We have noted that there is no way to earn salvation by works of merit. Many take this to mean that man is saved by grace alone before and without any works of obedience. Is this what God is saying?

This passage says one is saved by grace, but it does not say that one is saved by grace alone.  Grace through faith is not grace alone. If grace alone is enough to save, then every person would be saved since the “….grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). Yet, the New Testament states many will be lost (Matthew 7:13, 14, 21; 2 Thessalonians 1:8).

Grace and faith are not enemies; rather, they are companions in redemption. Faith does not negate grace. It is by faith that we have access into grace (Romans 5:1, 2). The kind of faith that saves is the kind of faith that obeys (submits to God). Does obedience negate grace? No. Who would contend that by repentance we somehow negate grace? No one. Why, then, do some theologians argue that if God requires water baptism as essential to salvation that would somehow cancel salvation by grace (cf. Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21)?

Salvation by grace is biblically associated with being “raised” with Christ. Paul states that in our pre-Christian state we were “dead through our trespasses,” but God “made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with him…” (Ephesians 2:5, 6). When did this “resurrection” occur? It is not the resurrection of death, for Paul speaks of this resurrection in the past tense, and the Ephesians were obviously still living. The answer is supplied in Romans: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (6:3,4). Obedience and grace are not mutually exclusive any more than faith and grace are mutually exclusive! Obedience in baptism is the culminating act by which a sinner receives the grace of God in the forgiveness of past sins (Acts 2:38).

The young man who asked Jesus the question, “What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16) was not told that he did not have to do anything because he was saved by God’s grace alone. Instead Jesus told him to “keep the commandments.” The Lord also said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15). Paul said we are saved by faith that works by love (Galatians 5:6) Clearly, grace is the ticket to heaven; but grace alone will not get us there.

SOME TRY TO GET TO HEAVEN BY FAITH ALONE.

Some have been taught all they have to do to be saved is “believe in Jesus.” “Faith alone” is their motto. While faith in Christ is absolutely essential (John 3:16; Hebrews 11:6), it is not all that God requires. James wrote, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (2:14-17). Three times james says that faith without works is dead (2:17, 20, 26). Even devil believe but are not willing to obey Him. “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble” (2:19). We must submit to all of the will of the Father, and our faith must obey Him if we hope to enter that land of rest and reward (Matthew 7:21; 28:20; Hebrews 5:8,9). We cannot get to heaven by faith alone.

We can’t get to heaven “alone.” The “shortcuts” to gloryland are all deadends. Heaven can be yours and mine if we are willing to rely on all God’s salvation necessities. We must have the love and grace of God; we must have the blood of Christ (Matthew 26:28); we must be born of the Spirit (John 3:3-5). We also must hear and believe the Gospel of Christ (John 6:44, 45; 8:24). We must repent of our sins (Luke 13:3). We must confess Christ’s deity (Matthew 10:32). We must be buried in baptism to was away our sins (Acts 22:16). We must “be good”-live faithful unto death (Titus 2:11, 12; Revelation 2:10).

Think about it. You can get to heaven;  you just can’t get there alone!


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