Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, said of Heaven, “I’ve earned my place in heaven.” Given that only almighty God can grant entrance to heaven, that is a pretty presumptuous statement. Still lets table that for a second and let me share a story.
When I was a child and well into my teens, my family celebrated Christmas with a big ole decorated Christmas tree that filled the den from floor to ceiling. It was covered in ornaments, many of which I still have, and underneath were presents galore. On Christmas day we would have friends over to celebrate the day. Even our friend Father Wade would stop by in the afternoon and have some egg nog with us. Food was out all day and people would stop and visit then go on their way. Since we were Jewish and also celebrated Hanukkah it created an interesting dynamic. In any case, there was no talk of Christ, just the celebrating of a holiday like it was the fourth of July. If I had died then and God asked me if I believed in Jesus, telling him I celebrated Christmas would certainly not satisfy him. Having a celebration does not make me a righteous person.
Easter would role around and we would again celebrate. Along with the Passover feast (Seder) we received Easter baskets filled with goodies and candy. I always got drunk by the 4th cup of wine. The next question, does either participating in the Seder or celebrating Easter with eggs and bunnies make me the righteous? Actually what is righteous?
From God’s perspective, righteousness is a sin free existence, perfection. As the psalms put it, God is Holy, Holy, Holy. That is perfect. Without righteousness, the gates of heaven are cannot open as God’s Holiness is without evil, blame or sin. Even the best of us humans have not fully upheld all the 10 commandments all the time. That is why Paul said in Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Don’t forget this is the interpretation of the scriptures from a Jew who at the time only had the Old Testament.
So coming back to Mayor Bloomberg’s statement. The idea that any individual is pure enough, holy enough, has done enough good things to offset their sins or the bad things they have done is preposterous. Just the existence of the sin is enough to bar one from heaven as holiness and righteousness is required. God, granted Abraham that his belief in God be counted as righteousness. He demonstrated a belief far more uncommon than anyone i know. Still God did give a way for all of us to enter heaven, by believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God counts that belief as righteousness.
Mayor Bloomberg believes he can earn his way to heaven. The Muslims also believe that, even as they are killing non-Muslims. Believing in Christ will produce good works (that is why there are so many effective Christian missions) but believing in your works will not produce righteousness,. Mayor Bloomberg may have done many good things (banning big sips in NY) but God will not count them as the scales are weighed against his righteousness and his heart, not his deeds.
I pray for all that you have an awesome Easter, and celebrate it for the sacrifice that makes holiness before God possible and with that Eternal Life.