There are many people who feel that it is possible to earn one's way into heaven. Many people feel as if heaven is a place filled with "good people," who lived in such a way that their good deeds out-weighed their bad deeds. This is impossible however. The Bible teaches that God is a righteous judge. Thus, as God examines people to determine who comes into His kingdom and who does not, He will simply determine if one is guilty of a crime (sin) or not. The guilty will be punished and the innocent will be permitted. This presents a problem to the idea that one's good deeds must outweigh one's bad deeds since a judge that examines the guilt of a person is not concerned with the amount of time one spent working in charity to determine if one is guilty. A judge in this earth will not take into consideration how many people one has helped in a lifetime if one is guilty of stealing. The person will be found guilty of stealing and sentenced accordingly, and God is no different. Therefore, one has to make sure one understands how the Bible explains one is made righteous before God in order to ensure that one can be considered "innocent" on the day of judgment.
Genesis 15:1-6 makes this concept very simple. The Bible shows that after Abram sought Melchizedek, God called out to Abram to confirm the promises He made in Genesis chapter 12. God reminded Abram that he would receive a great reward out of God's grace. Abram responded with a complaint of sorts. Abram's point of contention was that he didn't have a son that was his own. Abram was 75 years old and had no son. He knew God had promised that Abram would be a great nation, but in Abram's limited understanding, figured God to perform that work from an adopted son from one of his servants who's name was Eliezer of Damascus.
The Bible shows that God had a different plan however. While it was true that Abram was 75 years old, and as the Book of Hebrews states, "as good as dead," God would cause Abram to have a son anyway. Genesis 15:1-6 documents God repeating the promise that Abram would be a great nation. God would fulfill His promise to the extent that He commanded Abram to count all of the stars if he could, and rest assured that the amount of descendants Abram would have would be equally great in number. God was not exaggerating. Though Abram was old and thought himself unable to have a child for himself, God saw things differently. God swore to Abram - twice now - that he would have an heir indeed. God's promise was to Himself with Abram as a mere beneficiary, and so the promise was guaranteed to be fulfilled.
As God made this promise, the Bible reveals that Abram's heart was stirred up because the Bible plainly says that Abram believed. Though the odds seemed impossible and the circumstances unfavorable, Abram trusted in the Word of God. Abram heard the voice of God and had faith. The Bible says that because Abram believed, he was considered "righteous" in the eyes of God. Abram didn't perform any good deeds. In fact the Bible doesn't show Abram doing anything at all. The Bible shows that Abram was righteous because God spoke, and Abram listened and trusted in the things God said. Abram relied on the historical workings of God to determine God as faithful to Himself and assumed God would continue to operate in faithfulness. Consider that Abram had attributed his victory over king Chedorlaomer to God. Consider that Abram was delivered from compromising circumstances in Egypt during a great famine, yet God provided another opportunity and protected Abram from the famine. God had already performed great works to prove Himself. The scriptures testify that as God made this promise, Abram recalled the historical faithfulness and power of God to trust that He would continue to be faithful and powerful in the future, thus trusting in His Word.
The Bible clearly shows that one is made righteous by faith, not by works. The Bible teaches that one is saved and able to enter into the Kingdom of God by faith and not by works, lest anyone should boast. The Bible teaches that heaven will be filled with people that attribute their presence in heaven solely to the work of Jesus Christ. The Bible shows that no one in heaven will consider their own ability as the means by which they were able to enter into the presence of God. The Bible teaches that all of heaven will worship Jesus for His work to save, and transform the guilty into the innocent. Abram's righteousness was not earned, it was demonstrated. Abram's righteousness was demonstrated in that, when God spoke, Abram recognized the voice of God, listened to the voice of God, and trusted in the voice of God to the extent that Abram's life decisions became based on the promises of God. Abram's righteousness didn't make him perfect. The Bible testifies of plenty more failure on behalf of Abram. Nevertheless, Abram pleased God by trusting in His Word.
The Bible teaches that in the beginning was the Word of God, but the Word became flesh and dwelt among us in the form of Jesus Christ. The almighty God was able to package His Word into a fleshly form so that Jesus was the image of the invisible Word of God. Thus, as Abram trusted in the Word of God in the Old Testament, yet was considered righteous, the same is true for the New Testament Bible teaching. One must still trust in, and believe in the Word of God in order to be considered righteous and be saved from the wrath of God associated from one's guilt as a sinner. The Bible is clear about how God works. The Bible is candid to show God's expectations and work process. The Bible is consistent in its teachings to show that God doesn't change. The Bible is powerful to show God's grace in the midst of all of this. Abram was a mere old man that made tons of mistakes in life, and would continue to make mistakes in life as any other normal human being. Yet the Bible shows that God counted Abram as righteous simply because he trusted in the things God said. God says a lot of stuff and a lot of it is powerful. Abram had to trust God in spite of his circumstances, and in spite of what doctors or science might have suggested regarding his age and ability to have children. Abram had to trust that God is faithful to fulfill His promises, and that God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above anything that any human being could imagine. Abram had to trust that God is who God says He is. Abram trusted in these things rather than his limited understanding of life, and was considered righteous in the eyes of God as a result.