What is the point of believing in God, when I can just live a good life and then be forgiven for not believing when I get to heaven?

My friend, you’ve got the sequence and the logic a little off. The Creator God has a plan; He is intentional and strategic. Here’s the backstory. God created this universe as a 3-dimensional colony of heaven, His Kingdom’s headquarters. He formed man’s body from the newly created place, Earth, but then breathed His Spirit into Adam’s nostrils. This indwelling spirit would serve as a modem to transmit God’s desires and man’s requests from heaven to Earth, back and forth. He gave governing authority to His greatest creation, mankind (“Let us make man in our own image…” and “let them have dominion“). The Lord rightfully expected a loving, collaborative relationship with His Governor, Adam. We originally had immense liberty to run the colony as we wanted because the Lord could count on us to follow His developmental strategy. God operates a Kingdom, not a religion. 

It all blew up when Adam sinned. He had been warned not to eat the fruit of only one freaking tree on planet Earth. However, he believed a lie, spoken by God’s sworn enemy, Satan. This rebellious act severed man’s relationship with His maker. It was an egregious act, and we’ve been suffering for it ever since. 

Thousands of years later, fast forward to Moses, an 80-year old fugitive from Pharaoh’s homicide police. This shepherd is called to negotiate with the sovereign of Egypt to release 3 million Jews being held as slaves. The goal was to launch a brilliant redemption strategy. Liberate these folks, let Pharoah capitalize their new venture, and send them on a trek to a new homeland known as Israel. God would serve as their King, guiding the nation as He spoke through His judges and prophets until the time when the true Messiah would arrive. 

If you want to understand the supernatural authority of Adam, simply look at Moses. He commanded flies, locusts and frogs to assemble. He turned the Nile River’s water into blood. Using the rod of God, he parted the Red Sea. This is the level of original authority Adam had over this planet. Impressive. After their liberation, the Jews then received the Law, which served as a framework to expose our sinful condition. Later, instead of trusting God to rule their emerging nation, the people demanded a king. Like us today, they took their eyes off God and wanted to be accepted in the international community. This had mixed results — David was a great king, Ahab not so much. 

The prophets spoke over the next 10 centuries about a coming Messiah, who would offer redemption to us. Isaiah writes, “and the government is on His shoulder.” This describes Jesus primary goal: to craft a pathway for mankind to establish rule and reign over God’s creation once again. Jesus said “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt‬ 24:14‬)‬. He also said “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matt 6:33) 

Now, some of us believe that Jesus is the only pathway to righteousness. That gift has been offered through the shed blood of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. To your original question, you cannot simply seek forgiveness after dying, having lived how you wanted. You can’t even lead a “good life”. Good in whose eyes? You won’t be able to negotiate for forgiveness with the King of the universe once you’re dead. Our life here is a gift from God. When your dormant spirit is reanimated by the Holy Spirit, by receiving the Son, you will want to do the will of God, rather than indulge your whims. It is a pure joy to be in fellowship with the Prince of Peace and to dedicate our life to fulfilling God’s will on Earth, as it has already been declared in heaven. 

I admire your curiosity. Now, find a Bible-believing, Kingdom-minded person (rare) who will walk you through a deeper understanding of these principles. Receive the free gift of salvation and redemption offered solely by the sacrificial life of Christ. His blood is sinless, making you and I sinless as well. Then, begin detecting and implementing your role in advancing His Kingdom. 

May the Lord bless your search for Him, my friend.