Proclaim. Mobilize. Equip.
Call 866-865-6253

Bible Q&A: Is Holiness Required to Enter Heaven?

April 1, 2015

Question: Pastor Smith, I heard your message the other evening regarding justification and sanctification, and you used the example of the thief on the cross. At the end of the message you stated that “it is not by living a good Christian life” that you go to heaven. That is true, it is by faith in Jesus Christ. However, as the Bible teaches us how to live and is a conduct manual, what do you do with Hebrews 12:14, “Pursue peace with all men and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord”? We must live in accordance with the Scripture to the best of our ability and the Lord’s help. Holiness does matter according to the Scripture. Paul teaches it throughout. In fact, he says we can “fail grace,” and “come short of it,” meaning the promises (Hebrews 4:1). I appreciate your love for the Lord. Thank you.

Answer: Thanks for your kind and thoughtful note. You are absolutely right that holiness matters. Without it no one will see the Lord.

I have often said that if an unholy person were to visit heaven (which won’t of course happen!), they could never feel at home. Its people and everything about its life is holy.

With that said, we must never slide into thinking that our holiness is the reason for entering heaven. That’s important because the holiness of even the best believer is incomplete in this life.

But thank God the work of Christ is complete.

Having said that it is also important to emphasize that the pursuit of holiness is an unmistakable mark of all who have trusted themselves to the Savior King.

Thanks for your thoughtfulness on this.

In Christ,


The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.

Explore this topic further

Three Ways A Soul Can Be Lost

“Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:35-36)  Jesus confronts humanity with a profound reality: Your soul can be...

Read Post

Five Reasons Why Your Soul Matters

When our children were very young, we spoke about the soul like this: “I have a soul. My soul is inside me. I can’t see it, but it lasts forever.”  Jim Packer says that your soul is your “conscious personal self,” the “I” that knows itself as “me.” Your soul is the identity...

Read Post
For your gift of any amount

Who Am I?

Identity in Christ

Get Unlocking the Bible's Weekly Email

"This Week at Unlocking the Bible" features new articles, radio programs, devotionals, and ministry updates

We will never sell or misuse your information.