I love to read, though I don’t get to spend as much time reading as I would like. I love to read non-fiction and fiction, and have bookcases filled with books in my house. So I’ve decided that one of the things I want to do more of on my blog is share book reviews of books I have read and loved.
Many years ago I stumbled across a small book by Andy Stanley called Since Nobody’s perfect . . . How Good is good enough? As noted by the author in the first chapter, this little book takes no more than two hours to read, but it has probably the most important information each of us needs to know before we die.
Stanley starts out by identifying the most common belief regarding what happens when we die, a belief that spans most major religions. That is the belief that good people go to heaven, or to whatever better place a particular religion teaches we go to after we die. In some cases, that is reincarnation to a better position in the world. Each religion provides a set of rules and regulations to follow; things a person must do and must not do, to be considered good.
But, Stanley argues (and quite convincingly), the “good people go” belief is not at all logical.
You see, as good as you are—and you are pretty good—you aren’t really sure if you have been good enough. You hope so. And you are certainly better than . . . well . . . than certain people you know.
But how good is good enough?
Where’s the line? Who is the standard? Where do you currently stand? Do you have enough time left to stash away enough good deeds to counterbalance your bad ones? Stanley, pg. 13.
Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and even many Christians subscribe to the “good people go” system. But Stanley methodically shows not only why this system makes no sense and provides the believer with no assurance; he also shows, using scripture, that it is the opposite of what Jesus taught. The alternative system is what true Christianity, from the very words of Christ, teaches. That system is that “forgiven people go.”
Stanley also addresses the argument that Christianity is intolerant and unfair because it holds that only Christians go to heaven. He actually agrees that Christianity isn’t fair, but in the sense that it gives all the opportunity to gain that which our deeds do not deserve. Stanley writes:
Is Christianity fair? You’ll have to decide that for yourself. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is beyond fair. What could be fairer than this?
All three of these statements are supported by one of the most often quoted verses in the New Testament:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
“Whoever” includes everyone who is willing. Believing in him is the only requirement. Believing means placing one’s trust in the fact that Jesus is who he claimed to be and that his death accomplished what he claimed it accomplished. Stanley pg. 90-91.
Throughout this book, Stanley uses stories and examples from his own life to make each point, each building block of his argument for why it makes no sense to believe that good people go to heaven. If you aren’t sure you are good enough now, when you are done with this book you will realize that no one is. But being good enough is not the standard; recognizing that you are not good enough, but that God is merciful and forgiving if you ask, is.
A couple of years ago, I was getting my hair done and having a great conversation with my hair dresser about God, religion, and heaven. She is one who believes that forgiven people go to heaven, but she was concerned because her son and his wife had begun attending a very legalistic church that taught that they had to follow all the rules to get to heaven. In other words, this “Christian” church taught that only good people go to heaven and that they had the skinny on exactly what it took to be good enough.
It had been several years since I had first read Since Nobody’s perfect . . . How Good is good enough? But not long before that I had come across some paperback editions for only $1 each and had bought all they had. On my way home from the hair dresser I had this prompting from the Holy Spirit to take her one of those copies. Since I had to drive right past her salon to take my son to a party later that day, I followed through on that prompting. She thanked me and I left.
Several months later when I went back for a hair cut, she was so excited to see me when I arrived. She said she loved the book and had given copies to at least 10 people that she knew that she wasn’t sure really knew Jesus and the blessing of being forgiven. One of the women she had given it to came back and thanked her because she had been trying so hard for years to be good enough but never had any peace. This was a wonderful blessing to me because the first time I gave someone a copy of this book, right after I had first read it, she didn’t read it. In fact, she told me she had left it on a table in a doctor’s waiting room because she was sure she already knew what it was going to say. So to have the copy I gave away have such a ripple effect filled me with joy.
If you are wondering if you are good enough to go to heaven, and still think that being good enough is how you will get there, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book. Or if you know someone who would benefit from the blessing of knowing there is an alternative, I suggest you give them a copy. You won’t regret it.