Justification By Death
When asked where they will go when they die, most people will quickly reply: “heaven.” When asked why they should go to heaven, they'll probably reply: “I'm a good person.” I mean after all, good people go to heaven right?
Justification By Death
So how good is good enough? What's the criteria of entrance into heaven? How can one enter the Kingdom of Heaven? These are crucial questions that we all think about. We all want to know what comes after this life. So is there really a justification by death?
What is a “good” person?
If asked to list “good” people who have ever lived, some would list people like Mother Teresa, Oprah Winfrey, Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and the likes. Surely these people are “good” people, right? Well, it depends on how we define “good” and who defines it. People usually judge goodness on a scale of good deeds versus bad ones. We look at goodness on how many people a person has helped. But are we the ones to set the standard for “good”?
“So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Luke 18:19)
Here a certain man came to Jesus and called Him “Good Teacher”. Jesus starts by questioning the man's definition of good “Why do you call Me good?”. The young man, like most of us today, had a false view of goodness. He called Jesus good because He saw Him caring for people. But Jesus corrects his view of goodness “No one is good but One, that is, God.” Here Jesus is not denying His Deity, He is just correcting the man's definition of the word good. To be sure of it, Jesus is good, the only good man who has ever lived.
“Good” people go to heaven
“Good people go to heaven” so said all my sunday school teachers, but is it true? Do good people go to heaven? We'll of course they do, but the problem is, in the the words of Jesus “No one is good but One, that is, God.” In order for someone to be “good” in the eyes of God, they have to be perfectly sinless. Goodness according to God is measured with compliance/obedience to His law. So only Jesus qualifies for heaven. All of us have fallen short of goodness.
What's the criteria?
So then, if only Jesus is good, “Who then can be saved?” (Luke 18:26). Will God then have to grade us on a curve? Will He compromise His standards and require a certain level of goodness? Will He scale our good deeds with the bad and see which ones outweighs the others? By no means! God will not compromise His standard one inch. If He demanded absolute submission to His law from Adam, He still demands the same from us today. Jesus said it this way “unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)
How can one enter the Kingdom of Heaven?
If God demands absolute perfection from us in order for us to enter heaven, and we can never attain it, “Who then can be saved?”. God has made a way for mankind to be saved, and it's through Jesus Christ alone. Jesus Christ lived the perfect life that God requires of us and died for our sins. God can now impute (credit) Jesus' righteousness to all who trust in Him, so that He declares and considers us sinless and guiltless. And through Jesus' righteousness we can enter heaven.
Why Jesus alone
“I’m sure it rankles God Almighty to hear any human being even mention Buddha in the same breath as Jesus Christ. Because Christ alone is sinless. Buddha was a sinner and Buddha couldn’t save himself let alone anyone else. Mohammed was a sinner and Mohammed never saved anybody.” R.C. Sproul
It's simple really, in order for someone to be our saviour, they must meet certain conditions. They must be sinless and eternal. Sinless in order for the sacrifice to be valid, otherwise they would be suffering for their own sins. Eternal in order to suffer the infinite wrath of God. In a word, they must be God. Only Jesus meets these two conditions. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”” (Acts 4:12, ESV)
So is there really a justification by death?
Justification by death is the theory that one can be justified (declared righteous) after they die. This is the view that almost all cults and false religions have. This is sadly also the view that most Evangelicals are taking theses days. When asked if they will go to heaven or hell when the die they will throw the “it's up to God to decide” cliche. “Blessed Assurance” is a song of the past that doesn't match with their Theology. You never really know where you will go after you die, just hope that you die with a lot of “good” deeds, so they say. Just make sure you are not a Hitler or a Stalin.
This is a special type of justification by works. The idea is that be as good as you can and hopefully God will show you mercy on judgment day.
We have already shown that one can never be good or good enough for that matter. But can a person be justified after they die? What if I believe in Jesus after I die, does that count?
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27)
It has been said that there are no atheist in hell. This means that everyone will believe that there is a God and all the knees will bow down to Him and honour Him. But it will be too late for them to be saved. There is NO salvation after death but judgment. God offers us the hand of mercy today, Today is the day of salvation.
Only God is good and He demands perfect obedience to His law from us to enter heaven. We are justified through Christ alone. There is no justification after death, but judgment. One must be right with God in this lifetime.
Soli Deo Gloria