Have you heard of this quote: "Only good people go to heaven."
What is your own response to this quote?
Many a times when I ask this question of others, the response invariably is 'Yes', 'That's true', 'I agree with that' or simply nodding their heads in agreement.
That quote however is not true nor is it biblical.
Good people implies that the people would have done something in their lives to reflect that goodness in them, that others would have seen evidences or benefited of that goodness.
If the above quote is true, then a very few if any at all, will be able to enter the gate into heaven.
When Jesus was crucified at the cross, there were two thieves/criminals (Luke 23:32:33) who was crucified alongside him. Certainly, the one who acknowledge Jesus (Luke 23:42) would not be in paradise with Jesus by the end of the day. He would not have been able to show that he is a good person, to qualify entry into heaven. There was no time or opportunity for him to do so, afterall he was hanging at the cross. Yet Jesus reply to him was Luke 23:43.
43"And Jesus replied, "I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise."
No, heaven is not a place for good people. It is however a place for people who are forgiven.
Easter is a day that reminds us of God's forgiveness through Christ; when Jesus died on the cross, with his blood shed at the cross, we are made right with God (Colossians 1:20) ...and on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead (Luke 24:6-7). All it takes to receive that forgiveness is to believe in the one who God send.
John 3:16 (NLT)
16"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17"God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.
It is also important to note that Jesus did not condemn the thief/criminal who called on him, for being a criminal but received him into heaven. All it took of him was to believe in Jesus.
The symbolism of the two criminals crucified alongside Jesus, is simply that both are criminals (sinners), one criminal represents life, the other death. The difference between them is in their response to Jesus. This is better explained in John 3:18-21.
Whoever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you too can receive this forgiveness and belong to a people whom God has forgiven. You simply confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
If you choose to receive God's forgiveness through Christ, the following is an example of a confession you may use:
Thank you for your amazing love
Thank you for you forgiveness
Thank you for giving me life and eternity
But above all, thank you for dying on the cross for me.
I welcome you as my Lord and Saviour.
Now I am a child of god, which means you live in me
I belong to you
I will live my life for you and I will love you