It’s what everybody thinks until they read the Bible: “If I’m good enough the Lord will let me into heaven.”
It’s what I thought before I became a Christian, and it is the default philosophy for just about everyone who thinks they are a Christian but have never read what the Bible says about the subject. On the scale of accurateness though this philosophy is right there with the flat earth society.
There are some good reasons the Lord didn’t set up a goodness standard as the test for eternal life.
First, how would anyone this side of heaven ever know how good was good enough? One could never know whether one had done enough good to have their ticket punched.
Second, it would make us the means to our own salvation. We would, in effect, become our own saviors. While that might seem attractive at first blush, it would actually foster pride, which makes us more self-centered and less good. The means to our salvation would become the means to our own destruction. Our quest for salvation would ensure its failure.
Third, it would create an uneven playing field because people who come from broken homes, are victims of physical or sexual abuse or other dysfunctional conduct, would always start off at a severe disadvantage as a result of something over which they had no control. That would hardly be fair.
It makes sense then that the Bible says to the Christian, “…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.” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Salvation occurs by believing on Jesus who paid the price for our sin. It is Jesus who saves, not us. And it happens by grace, i.e., as a gift that is offered to us by God. If it was a result of our good works, we would be able to brag and be full of pride. And, salvation happens on the even playing field of the heart, about as fair a playing field as you can find in a fallen world.
Seems like the Lord knew what He was doing. GS