The Good Person Test
You say you are not a good person. So why do you say you will go to heaven?
Your Answer: I do my best to obey God and the ordinances of the church, and with Jesus' help I'll get to heaven.
There is a problem with this answer. It is not what the Bible says.
For example: Let's say it's a hot day and you have a a very young son who wants an ice cream cone. You tell him that he can get one, if he earns the $3.50 it costs. So your small son works hard doing an odd job for the neighbor and earns $3.00. Would not a good father, who loves his son, take him to Baskin Robbins and pay the extra money he needs to get an ice cream?
Of course he would.
Some people use this story to illustrates what Jesus does for us. What it is saying is that although we do our best, we can not earn enough to get into heaven on our own. We need the work Jesus did on the cross to give us an extra boost and help us get to heaven.
But there is a problem.
A BIG problem.
The Bible tells us that we can not do anything good. Our BEST acts are like filthy, maggot infested rags to God. So there is NOTHING we can contribute to our own salvation. In the ice cream example, our work is not good enough to earn the $3.00... nor even $1.00... nor even 1 cent.
"For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds [the best we can do] are like a filthy garment [rags]." - Isaiah 64:6 (NASB)
The phrase "filthy garments" in the original Hebrew means disgusting, rotten blood soaked, moggot infested rags. The point is, no matter how "good" we are, compared with God's standard we are totally and disgustingly filthy. There is nothing about us that deserves salvation.
But here is the good news!
"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 (NASB)
The truth is that we are saved solely through God's grace. Through His free gift of salvation, not through anything we do ourselves. If we even did some small part to contribute towards our salvation, we would have something to boast about. But we have NOTHING to boast about... God did it all.
If we use the story about the young boy with the ice cream cone accurately, here is what happens when the boy goes out to earn the money for the ice cream cone: no matter what he does, it comes out wrong. At the end of the day he owes the neighbor's $100,000 for all the damage he's had done. Not only has he not earned the money, he has gotten himself into an impossibly huge debt.
This shows us how good and loving God truly is. In this story, the father steps in and not only buys his son an ice cream cone, but he also pays all of the debt owed by his son. That's what God has done for you! He has fully paid the debt you owe for disobeying His laws. You owed the death penalty, and Jesus paid that penalty on your behalf.
But what if the son says, "No thank you. I'll go out tomorrow and earn the money for the ice cream cone and to pay off the debt."
That's what we say to God when we do not accept what God has done for us. God sacrificed His son on the cross so that we don't have to die. If we say, "No thank you." then God does not force us into heaven. He gives us what we chose... we die and go to hell.