Who Goes To Heaven? Do Only Good People Go To Heaven?

Who Goes To Heaven? Do Only Good People Go To Heaven? February 8, 2017

Who exactly goes to heaven? Do only good people go to heaven and only bad people to hell?

Who is Good?

Another member of our church and I once talked to a young man about the gospel and so we asked him, “Do you think you’re a good person?” to which he replied, “I’m not good person…I’m great!” That’s when I told him, “Wow, you’re the very first person we’ve ever met that is good because the Bible says only God is good” (Mark 10:18), and not even one of us is good. In fact, none of us even seeks after God because we’re all lost like sheep, we’ve all gone astray. The Apostle Paul says “None is righteous, no, not one” (Rom 3:10), and “no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Rom 3:11), because “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Rom 3:12). Even more, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom3:23), so the Bible says not one of us is good; none of us really seeks after God; and all of us have sinned and fallen infinitely short of God’s glory, so the young man was wrong. None of us are good, including me. A human standard of good is not good enough! I told this young man, “Either you are right and the Bible is wrong, or you are wrong and the Bible is right, so I believe you have the wrath of God abiding on you right now because you don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God and Savior (John 3:18, 36b). The truth that none of us are good didn’t originate with Paul, but it’s found in the Old Testament. Paul quoted David who wrote, “They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). Paul was only quoting Psalm 14:1-3 when he wrote Romans 3:10-12, so the knowledge that there is no good in us is not new knowledge, so it isn’t a question of “Are you a good person,” but “Are there any good people at all?” We know that none are good enough to go to heaven on their own merit (Eph 2:8-9), so how can we be good enough to go to heaven?

None-is-righteous-no-not (3)

Not Good Enough

Jesus once said “your righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees” or you won’t enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:20), but how is that humanly possible? Did the Pharisees have the righteousness that God demands to enter the kingdom of heaven? No, because the Bible teaches none are good or righteous. They only had their self-righteousness, which is nothing to God. Jesus said these were they “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt” (Luke 18:9), so He told the Pharisees, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15). They trusted in their own righteousness and exalted themselves above others, but only those who trust in Christ can be saved because everyone needs the righteousness of Christ (2nd Cor 5:21). Because they thought they were righteous, they “treated others with contempt,” however, their own works, just like ours, are nothing more than filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6), and He will not accept them. Nowhere in the Bible does it teach people are good enough to go to heaven or can do enough good works to get there. Another problem is that our sins have cut us off from God (Isaiah 59:2). We are altogether hopeless because our works cannot ever be enough to save us, but that doesn’t exclude the need for works, as we shall read.

Jesus’ Righteousness

There is a place for works, but of course we cannot be saved by works, however, this doesn’t mean we don’t do good works. It is because we are saved that we do good works. God has appointed good works for us to do long before we existed (Eph 2:10), so the question is, will we do them? These works didn’t save us; they are the effects of our being saved, but certainly not the cause it. To clarify works that point, we turn to James, who wrote, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that” (James 2:14-16), which makes the point that, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). This is the only works that we should be concerned about regarding salvation. Jesus says, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29). Still, it is our nature to seek after works for assurance or to make us feel good about ourselves, however the righteousness that God demands is also the righteousness that God provides in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul writes that it was “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2nd Cor 5:21). It’s the very righteousness of Christ that God will accept and nothing less. We who knew much about sin had Jesus’ righteousness imputed on our behalf so that when the judgment comes, God will only see Jesus’ righteousness. That’s what’s required to enter the kingdom of heaven. Nothing else can usher us into the New Jerusalem, and there is nothing you or I can do to add to what Jesus has already done on our behalf.


If we have been brought to a place of repentance and have trusted in Christ, we need do nothing more to complete our salvation. Now, after the Holy Spirit resides in the believer, the Spirit of God will induce us to do good things for God, but only for His glory and not ours, so the idea that good people go to heaven is not biblical. In fact, it’s not even true that we are good (Psalm 14:1-3; Rom 3:10-12). It is only that we have been saved by a very good God through Jesus Christ Who is the one and only way to the Father (John 6:44). There is simply no other way we can be saved but through trusting in Jesus Christ.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

"Second try: I had a banned term the first time. The banned term was that ..."

Whatever Happened To Integrity?
"Jamie Kimmett - Prize Worth Fighting For (Official Lyric Video)https://m.youtube.com/watch..."

God Is…
"Well. You’ve made up your mind. There’s nothing for us to talk about.I live in ..."

Whatever Happened To Humility?
"No reply? Exactly... because you're wrong."

God Is…

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • pud

    Still choosing to remain mired in your infantile view of reality eh Jack?

    Tell me Jack…where is “heaven” How do you know it exists? What is the point of an earthly life if “heaven” is eternal? Do you have free will in “heaven”? What will you do for the first trillion years there?

    You do know, or you should by now, that there is absolutely no evidence for anyone name of jesus ever existing let alone being the man/god you portray him to be. You do know this right Jack?

    You do realize that your entire conception of reality is based upon the scribbling of no name ancient goat herders who didn’t even know the earth was round? You do realize that you’ve hitched your wagon to ignorant superstitious barbarians right? To a “book” right Jack…a Bronze and Iron Age book.

  • pud

    “only god is good”…why? Because the book says so!!!

    The rest of you wretched ignorant pacified sheep are garbage…you are “filthy rags” and never forget it! Go to church if you ever catch yourself having a twinge of humanity and self esteem! They’ll gladly remind you that you’re dirt, scum, refuse who should all be killed by….the “good” god?

    And NO! You can’t go to this imaginary place to spend eternity in endless praise of the all powerful deity…sorry…no trillions and trillions of relentless years of praising dear leader. You can’t go!


    Unless you buy into one of the 40,000 christian denominations and endlessly mumble how awesome the invisible “god” is via his invisible “son” and beg, beg and beg to be spared eternal torment by the “good god”

    It’s all there in the book! And the book is true because it says it’s true!


    • Alan Jackson

      You’re an Atheist Preacher? Atheists adopt a title of work if not charge, since an Atheist would have problem with Bible speak, from a belief system they either A) Don’t Care About, B) Revile, or C) Hope to destroy? You have 1 follower. You have a slender amount of upvotes, and if my logic isn’t being followed yet I will tell you why. A true atheist would not care that a Christian is Preaching, because a true atheist as a convicted person to not accepting the existance of God, would not dain the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years that you have given to speaking God’s name… You have mentioned God more than some ‘Christians’ ever do… I have an atheist friend and you know how often he mentions God? 0 You know how often he’s given a crap to tell me off for my beliefs? 0 You know how hypocritical you have to be as a human to ‘Preach’ against someone you don’t believe in? 100% God bless you and keep up the good work, because I guarantee you if you mention the name of God at all He smiles upon you for doing His will- against your own 😉

  • mudskipper

    That’s one helluva cheap ticket into heaven you’ve got there.

    You don’t have be good–all you have to do is believe. I swear Christianity is tailor-made for the sociopathic. Perhaps that’s been the secret of its success.

    • Jack Wellman

      A person who is saved will naturally do good things because that’s our calling (Eph 2:10). It wasn’t cheap for Jesus!

    • calduncan

      Old queen

  • Maltnothops

    Did you ask the young man why he thought he was good?

    • Jack Wellman

      Yes, the young man said, and I quote, “All the ladies love me…they all say I’m good” which my friend and I knew what he meant. He said “All my friends think I’m great.”

      • Maltnothops

        Unless you are omitting more of the conversation from your column, then your response to the young man seems to be a non sequitur. A missed opportunity.