Because we are each sinners, we can't get to heaven by trying to be good and nice.
You may say, "I'm a good person. I never did anything really bad, and I try to make right choices. Won't God let me into heaven?"
But the Bible says, "All of us have become like someone who is 'unclean.' All of the good things we do are like polluted rags to you" (Isaiah 64:6a). Even when we try to be good and nice, we're still sinners. We fail to love God best and obey His commands perfectly.
The punishment for sin is dying and going to hell away from God forever (Romans 6:23). If everyone has sinned and deserves to go to hell, how can anyone be saved from sin and go to heaven?
The Bible says, "God's grace has saved you because of your faith in Christ. Your salvation doesn't come from anything you do. It is God's gift. It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it" (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Let's look at each part of this truth:
• "God's grace has saved you ...": God's grace is a gift we don't deserve. Imagine you were bad all year—lying, stealing, and pitching fits. But you still received Christmas gifts. That's grace—a gift you don't deserve! God also gives grace. He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross to take the punishment for sinners. Jesus rose from the dead to prove His victory over sin and death.
• "… because of your faith in Christ": God saves sinners by giving them faith in Jesus. Sinners can't take care of sin on their own. Instead, we must turn from our sin and turn to the Lord Jesus, trusting He died on the cross for sin. Through faith in Jesus, believers become God's children and can go to heaven to be with God forever (John 3:16).
• "Your salvation doesn't come from anything you do. It is God's gift": Faith in Jesus doesn't come from anything you do yourself. God freely saves sinners by giving them faith in Jesus.
• "It is not based on anything you have done. No one can brag about earning it": No one will go to heaven and brag, "I went to church every week. That's why I'm in heaven." No one will boast, "I obeyed my parents and teachers, loved my friends, and never told a lie. That's why I'm in heaven." No, those in heaven will say, "I am in heaven because God gave me grace—a gift I don't deserve—instead of punishing my sin. God gave Jesus to die for my sin and gave me faith to trust in Jesus alone. Thank You, Lord!"
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"He saved us. It wasn't because of the good things we had done. It was because of his mercy" (Titus 3:5a).
"God's saving grace has appeared to all people. It teaches us to say no to godless ways and sinful longings. We must control ourselves. We must do what is right. We must lead godly lives in today's world. That's how we should live as we wait for the blessed hope God has given us. We are waiting for Jesus Christ to appear in all his glory. He is our great God and Savior. He gave himself for us. By doing that, he set us free from all evil. He wanted to make us pure. He wanted us to be his very own people. He wanted us to long to do what is good" (Titus 2:11–14).
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com