2/16/17 Adam about 30
Is it possible to believe you are saved and going to heaven without thinking you are somehow better than those who are not? A man named Adam at a Starbucks had told me he believes he is going to heaven because God will find him to be an overall good person. He also believes some people will be condemned to hell, but he became very uncomfortable when I asked him about the logical implication of his beliefs: "So then do you believe you are a better person than those who are going to hell?" "Well, now, I wouldn't say that…It's not my place to judge…" he answered, not wanting to sound arrogant, yet still wanting to be able to be "good enough" for heaven.
Adam insisted he didn’t believe he was better than others, but he also insisted just as strongly that he is a good person worthy of heaven. Part of the reason I have found that people like Adam are not willing to say they are better than people who are not saved is because their humility is one of the good deeds that they are counting on in their works-based view of salvation. Adam didn't want to spoil his reward by talking about it.
But the Gospel is not about earning salvation. Despite the bad news that we are condemned for having broken God's laws, the good news of the Gospel is that we can be saved through faith in Christ. Salvation comes "not by works, so that no one can boast" (Eph 2:8-9) We can only boast in what Jesus has done in our place, taking the punishment we deserved for our sin. He alone deserves the glory that our prideful human nature wants to claim for ourselves.
When we look at the cross it's hard to admit our sin is so bad that nothing less than the Son of God dying on the cross could pay the price justice requires for our forgiveness, but there it stands. We can continue to trust in our own self-righteousness, or we can receive what has been done on our behalf already through faith in Christ. Either way, by demonstrating His unlimited mercy on those who trust Christ, or His unlimited justice in punishing sinners, God will be glorified as He deserves.