Recently, a Facebook friend asked me this question:
If you died tonight, and God asked you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?”, what would your response be?
After a bit of discussion, I decided to see if this question was of his own creation. So I searched the web at Google and found that the question in red above appears over 63,000 times in the Google returns. It appears to be the title of a message by Wil Pounds from 2006, and is copied below with permission from the site on which I found it first.
As I read the piece, I was negatively impressed with how many flaws it contains, so I thought it would be a worthy exercise to post the piece in its entirety below, interspersing my own observations in red. The reader may wish to read the piece first, omitting all the commentary in red, and then read it again for my comments.
“Why Should I Let You into My Heaven?”
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
Let’s suppose for a moment that you died today and stood before the Lord God and He asked you, “Why should I let you into My heaven?” Why should we suppose this? Is there any prophecy in the Bible that God would ever ask such a thing? I know of none. So perhaps the author is wrongly framing the article from the get-go. What would be the purpose of building an entire article (to follow) upon a hypothetical question that does not even seem likely based upon the texts of the Bible? Secondly, it immediately raises something of a “red flag” in my mind to tell God that he “should” do something. So it has me wondering why God would ask a question that sets up a human to have to tell him what he “should” do. What would you say? What do you think you would say?
That is one of the most important questions you can ask a person regarding their salvation. I note that the author does not support this assertion. Why is this “one of the most important questions”? Are people going to be kept out of heaven if they are not prepared to answer this question? If so, where is that written? James Kennedy got the idea from Donald Grey Barnhouse who asked the same questions in a slightly different wording. “What right do you have to come into God’s heaven? What would be your answer?” Well, my answer would be that the only way to have a “right” to come into God’s heaven is if God has invited one to come in. But as we shall see, it appears that my answer is not sophisticated enough.
I like those questions because they force us to clarify our thoughts about salvation. Actually, the author could get a lot clearer by what he means by the term “salvation”. Read more here.
One thing is sure, one day you will die. You will be suddenly thrust into the face of God and He will ask the question, “Why should I let you come into My heaven?” “What right do you have to enter into the holy of holies?”This is the most egregious line in this entire article. The author asserts, without any support whatsoever, that God will ask each of us this question. How could the author know this? Have I missed this “fact” in the Bible somewhere? Or is the author a prophet?
Your reply could be, “I am a religious person. I am trying to live a Christian life the best I can. I give to the poor, and try to help people in need. I an not a notorious sinner. I read religious books, my Bible, and I try to love people. I am serving God the best I can.” But no one will be justified before God on the basis of his good religious works. This phrase, “no one will be justified…” is taken from Romans 3:20, but the end of the sentence in 3:20 has now been modified from “the law (of Moses)” to “his good religious works.” This is a classic bait and switch, pretending to be quoting scripture while changing the actual content of the line being quoted or alluded to. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). This verse is quoted here, yet provides absolutely no support for the assertion made immediately before. It is wholly irrelevant to the claim that “no one will be justified before God on the basis of his good religious works”. In fact, if Jeremiah 17:9 means what the author thinks it means, then how could anybody possibly have “good religious works” in the first place? Something doesn’t quite add up here. The apostle Paul said wrote, “For 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, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The author began the paragraph talking about being “justified” and now he switches to talking about being “saved”, without stopping to make any distinction in the words whatsoever. Apparently, he sees them as the same thing. It is further apparent that he views “being let into God’s heaven” as the same thing as being “saved”. This view, however, does not account for the multiple ways the words save, saved, and salvation are used in the New Testament. This is typical of careless prooftexting.
The only way a religious person will ever be saved is by faith in Jesus Christ who died on the cross paying the penalty for our sins. Jesus Christ offers His own perfect righteousness in the place of our self-righteousness, which can never save us. Why does the author assume that all people are self righteous? Does he know some scripture I don’t know? Are there not examples of people in the scriptures who were not self righteous? When we stand before the judgment throne of God no one will be able to offer any good works as the basis for their right relationship with God. This is quite a “loaded” sentence. First of all, where does the author get this idea that people will offer up anything to God upon their judgment appointments? Secondly, what does the author mean by “right relationship with God”? Thirdly, how can anyone have any “basis for their right relationship with God” without having good works? Our sins and our guilt will stop our mouths because God demands perfect righteousness, and that we do not have on our own. “God demands perfect righteousness”? Where is that written? In my Bible, it says: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” As each of us has done both good and bad, and as this judgment is said here to concern both good and bad, how can anybody ever be granted eternal life if “God demands perfect righteousness”? Yes, yes, I know. Many of you will claim that this is exactly the point, that it is only by virtue of Jesus’ perfect righteousness that each believer will be judged, but that is exactly NOT what this passage says. It says quite plainly that each person will be judged according to his works—according to “what he has done….whether good or bad.” Did Paul get it wrong here? Was he somehow unaware of the details of his own gospel?
“Why should God let you into His heaven?” “What right do you have to enter into My heaven?” You may say, “I am a good Jewish person. I have been circumcised. I have fulfilled the requirements of the covenant.” Or you may say, “I have been baptized by immersion into the Christian faith.” Or “I have fulfilled the requirements of confirmation. I take the sacraments, and I give to the poor.” But God’s Word, the Bible, still says, “There is no one righteous, not even one. . . There is no one who does good, not even one.” No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by his good works because the purpose of the Law is to make us conscious of our sins. But even those who sin are still going to be judged with all their works taken into account, both good and bad. This is taught both explicitly and implicitly in the Bible—and many times. “For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20 NET).
The purpose of the Law is to bring us under conviction of our unrighteousness and point us to the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ that alone can save us. No, the purpose of the Law was to bring them under conviction of their unrighteousness. The Law of Moses is now obsolete and is no longer in play. This is a typical example of anachronistically applying scripture.
My only claim to heaven is the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for me. He took the punishment for my sins. Question for the author: Did Jesus Christ also die for Adolf Hitler? Did he take the punishment for Adolf Hitler’s sin, too? Be careful how you answer this. And if you want to argue that the difference between you and Hitler is that you “accepted” the gift where Hitler did not, then you have worked yourself around to taking credit based on your own actions, your choice, your deeds. This, of course, contradicts your greater position, does it not? He is my right to heaven, because He has become my righteousness. This one is fascinating as it is directly the opposite of the idea actually expressed in scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Where the original teachings have Christians becoming righteous, this author (and a boatload of other believers) now have Jesus offering his own surrogate righteousness in stead of their presumedly-incurable unrighteousness. This presents a major logical hurdle for the doctrine of many. If the Bible says Christians can become righteous, how do they say otherwise?
The only answer that will satisfy God is one that focuses on the finished atoning work of Jesus Christ. Once again, the author seems to have neglected to provide any scriptural support for this assertion. If we are saved to what salvation is the author referring here? Does he mean that which is past tense? Or that which is future? He is not clear, and there is quite a difference. it is not on the basis of anything we do, This is just silly; even the Calvinists teach a salvation by works. but entirely on what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross in His death and resurrection. He suffered for our sins. He died for us. “The wages of sin is death.” He died my death. He bore my punishment for my sins in His death. There is no other way to come to God. Only the individual who comes to God trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ will enter into God’s presence in heaven. Does this include a “trust” that has the facts wrong? Does this include a “trust” in things Jesus never taught or promised? Does this include a “trust” in “biblical” ideas that actually contradict certain passages forthrightly?
Let’s suppose you died today and stood before God. What would be your answer to the question, “Why should I let you into My heaven?” “By what right should God let you into His heaven?” So now we have come full circle. The author never demonstrated how these questions will be asked by God, even though he states it as a certainty in the fourth paragraph of this piece.
I pray that you will declare, “My only right to heaven is the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for me. He took my punishment for my sins. He is my righteousness. He is my only hope to enter into God’s holy presence. There is no other name given among men whereby I must be saved. Jesus alone can save me.” Let us suppose that Hitler were asked this question and gave these exact same answers. Would he then be granted eternal life in Heaven? Indeed, the author here appeals ONLY to the deeds and character of Jesus. Why, then, couldn’t Hitler successfully appeal to the exact same thing and be welcomed into heaven? Yet it offends the sensibilities of the average believer (if my observations are accurate) to think that Hitler would ever spend a moment in Heaven.
Meanwhile, this camp of believers spends an awful lot of time going on and on about how utterly wretched and wormy they are, about how dirty and incorrigible and useless and desperately corrupt they are. And they believe that they can use Jesus as a trump card at their times of judgment. They do not believe certain passages in the very Bible from which they claim to have gleaned the dubious doctrines posited in this article.
These matters are not nearly as simple as some like to make out. It is possible to make a great many poor assumptions as to the meaning of the Bible. And once a religious institution gets involved in it, the likelihood of error seems to rise exponentially.
These teachings are immensely popular. That does not make them right, however. If anyone wants to understand the Bible in such a way that it is not made to contradict itself, he or she will have to do lots of work. It is not as convenient as so many seem to wish.