According to Christian researcher George Barna (www.barna.org) 72% of all Americans and 53% of Christians believe that it might be possible for someone to earn their way into heaven through good deeds. This doesn’t go so far as to say that these people believe that they are working their way into heaven but that some others might be accepted because of good deeds.
John 14:6 says, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
There is one way to heaven and that is through Jesus. There are no shortcuts or alternative routes. This belief is likely held out for people who seemed good but never could be bothered by Christianity. We don’t like the idea that God would punish someone who was “relatively good.” But the fact remains that pretty good doesn’t meet God’s standard. We are all sinners and we are all in need of forgiveness, even those who were pretty good and who tried to live a good life.
Once again, we must go back to the idea of absolute standards. God set the standard at perfection. If we can make it into heaven by being good, how good is good enough? How could we ever have assurance of salvation if making it into heaven depended on some other standard that we were never given? But we were given a standard. The standard is perfection and we fall short of it. And because of that we need the forgiveness of Jesus. Good deeds are not going to be enough.
Good deeds do not address the issue of sin. We all sin, even the best of us. But how can a good deed make up for something bad that we have done? Once hurtful words are out of our mouth, they can’t come back. Once we have done something wrong, we can’t undo it, only hope to repair the damage from it. Only forgiveness addresses the issue of sin. Forgiveness is what is needed to make it to heaven, not good deeds. There are no good deeds that can make up for the bad things that we do, no matter how many good things we do.