by Matt Slick
No, you cannot love your way into heaven. Being good is never good enough to please God. God is infinite, holy, majestic, and just. If it was possible to get to heaven by being good, by being loving, then Christ would not have needed to die. Many people do not realize that to be loving is a command of the Old Testament Law. Please consider these two verses:
- Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
- Leviticus 19:18, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD."
Both of these passages are quoted by Jesus in Matt. 22:37 and Matt. 22:39, respectively. We are undoubtedly supposed to love, but keeping the Old Testament command to love God and love your neighbor is not good enough for us to get to heaven. Paul said, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly," (Gal. 2:21). And again, "Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law," (Gal. 3:21). Paul clearly tells us that we cannot obtain the righteousness that we need by keeping the Law, which includes loving God and loving your neighbor. So, you cannot love your way into heaven.
Then how do we get to heaven?
We get to heaven by receiving Christ as Savior. We do this by faith, not by faith and any work of any kind. We have to understand that we are sinners and there's nothing we can do that will be good enough before God (Rom. 3:10-12; 6:23). If there were, then Jesus didn't need to die. But Jesus who is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14) died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the dead (1Corinthians 15:1-4). That is the gospel message. By trusting in Christ and believing in the gospel, we are declared right before God by faith (Romans 4:1-5; 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9). In other words, when we receive Christ by faith (John 1:12), the righteousness of God is given to us (Philippians 3:9). This is called justification. Justification is a legal standing before God. It means that the one who has trusted in Christ by faith, is now declared legally righteous according to the law. Since the law includes loving God and loving our neighbors, those parts of the law must be fulfilled perfectly. It was Jesus who fulfilled the law without failure. So, we receive by faith what Christ did - which includes loving God and loving our neighbor. Therefore, everything we need is found in Jesus.