Many times we hear people say or read in an obituary that, “My mother was a good person and she went home to be with her Lord in heaven.” If the individual had not obeyed the Gospel and/or was not a faithful member of the Lord’s one true church, this is only wishful thinking. The individual may have been a “good person,” but being a good person is not the only requirement for one to go to heaven. We read in II Thessalonians 1:7-9, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking 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.”

Even though one is a good person, if he has not obeyed “the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he will be eternally lost in hell. Also, notice that those who do not know God will also be lost in hell. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4). To not know God is to not keep his commandments. Those who do not know God include those who once obeyed the Gospel but fell away and quit keeping his commandments. We cannot be good enough, on our own, to go to heaven. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). It is our sins that separate us from God (Isa. 59:2).

One must obey what God says, how God says, and for the reason God says if he is to go to heaven and avoid hell. One must not obey any of the many different plans of salvation which men have devised. One of man’s plans says that all you have to do to be saved and go to heaven is to “accept Jesus as your personal Saviour” and say the “sinner’s prayer.” Then a week or so later they baptize the individual into their denomination, but not for the forgiveness of sins so he can be saved because they say he is already saved. Since one was not baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16) so he can be saved (Mark 16:16), he still has every sin he has ever committed and is still lost, even though he may be a “good person.” I cannot think of a more flagrant crime against both God and man than to teach lost sinners, who want to be saved, something different than what God says in the Bible. Man’s plans will only lead one into hell.

For one to be saved and to go to heaven, Jesus says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). One has to have help to misunderstand this. What does the Lord do with those who are saved according to his plan? Acts 2:47 says, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Then Jesus says, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). So we see from the Bible that those who die and have not obeyed the Gospel of Christ, even though they are a “good person,” will not be in heaven, but in hell. Also, we see from the Bible that even though one has obeyed the Gospel but forsakes the assemblies of the church (Heb. 10:25-26) and was not faithful until death, even though he was otherwise a “good person,” he will also be in hell.

“Let no man deceive himself” (I Cor. 3:18). Let’s make sure that we and our loved ones have obeyed the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and are faithfully serving him in his church. We cannot wish ourselves or our loved ones out of hell and into heaven. It will be too late then.

By Ron Boatwright

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