In this bulletin series we’ve been looking at the common objections to Christianity. This week I want to look at the objection that all you need to do to be ok with God is keep the ‘Golden rule’ as much as you can.
The ‘Golden rule’ is generally a reference to the teaching of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount: ‘…do to others what you would have them do to you’ (Matthew 7:12). Or put another way: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:39).
Most people like this command of Jesus. And rightly so. It tells you what is the right thing to do in pretty much every situation. You wouldn’t like someone to sleep with your spouse, so you don’t sleep with other people’s spouses. You wouldn’t like to have someone steal your things, so you don’t steal other people’s things.
Now while most people recognise that they don’t keep the ‘Golden rule’ perfectly, they often believe that if you keep it more often than you break it, you will go to heaven. But such a teaching is never found in the Bible. God does not weigh your works on a set of scales and if you come up with 51% good works and 49% bad works you’re in. If you want to go to heaven using the ‘Golden rule’, the standard God sets is that you need 100% good works. If you break the ‘Golden rule’ in one situation, you’re destined for hell because it means you’ve broken it in every situation: ‘For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it’ (James 2:10). This makes sense. We expect such justice from our own government – if someone commits murder they must be punished, no matter how good they have been in the rest of their life.
So how do you get to heaven? By Jesus keeping God’s law perfectly for you. The Bible teaches that if you repent of your sins and believe that Jesus pays the penalty for all your violations of the ‘Golden rule’ with his death, then you will go to heaven. In effect, Jesus passes the grade for you. The ‘Golden rule’ no longer applies to you in terms of you going to heaven: ‘Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes’ (Romans 10:4).
Do you believe that keeping the ‘Golden rule’ most of the time saves you? Or do you trust in Jesus’ death for your repeated breaking of the ‘Golden rule’?