On Monday I (Marianne) took Daniel and Stephen to McDonald's for lunch. On the way home Daniel was lamenting that because Allan was in school, he didn't get any chicken nuggets. To remedy this he said, "Mommy, I'm going to save two of my chicken nuggets for Allan." I told him that was very thoughtful and a good way to love his brother. Then the conversation took a different turn.
"Mommy", he said, "if I share my nuggets with Allan will I go to heaven"?
"No, Daniel, you won't go to heaven for sharing your nuggets", I replied.
His eyes got big and in a loud voice he replied, "WHAT?!.....what if I give him two nuggets AND some fries?"
"No buddy, you won't go to heaven for sharing your nuggets and fries", I said.
"Then how do I get to heaven?" he questioned.
"Well, Daniel, how do you think you get to heaven?" I asked him.
"By loving and serving Jesus?" he asked questioningly.
"That's very important but no...not by loving and serving Jesus" I answered.
"By loving other people?"
"That's also something you should do but no, not by loving other people."
By this time he was wearing out so I told him, "Daniel, those things you mentioned are very good things. But God says in His word that for us to get to heaven, we have to ask Him to forgive our sins and accept His gift of salvation. That's the only way we can get into heaven. There are many people who think that if they do good then they get to go to heaven but that's not true. God tells us in His Word what we must do to get to heaven."
He was very relieved and said, "Oh good! I've already done that and now I'm loving and serving Jesus and I'm trying to love other people!"
Me: "Daniel, if you've asked God to forgive you of your sins, and you're loving and serving Him and loving others then you're doing everything necessary to get to heaven!"
Apart from a right relationship with God we cannot properly love Him nor love others. And I want my children to realize from a young age that we'll never be "good" enough to merit salvation - we have to accept Christ's atonement by faith.