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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.

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