WORDS OF FAITH
“… nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine …”
1 Tim. 4:6
Central Church of Christ
December 18, 2011
Is It Enough Just To Be A Good Person? (Part 2)
Paul, was once righteous in his own eyes (this was before
he became a Christian), “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who
hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into
the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and
injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief”
and “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of
whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1:12-13, 15). What had Paul done to become
“chief of sinners?” He had persecuted the church, “And Saul,
yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of
the Lord, went unto the high priest…And he fell to the earth, and
heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou
me” (Acts 9:1, 4). Had Paul thought himself righteous all the time
he was persecuting the church? Yes. Paul declared before the Jewish
council, “…Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience
before God until this day” (Acts 23:1). Paul thought of
himself as a good man while he was persecuting the church, but
this glory was only in his own eyes – the God of Heaven declared
that Paul was yet a sinner (Acts 9:6, 22:10-16).
As Paul had considered himself to be righteous so had
others of the Jews, “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous,
heard all these things: and they derided him. And he [Jesus, Ed.]
said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men;
but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed
among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:14-15).
Those who cried “Lord, Lord;” the Jews who tried to
establish their own righteousness or “goodness;” and even Paul who
considered himself righteous [and no doubt considered so by
his peers (Gal. 1:14)] all fell short of God’s standard of “good.”
Those who cried “Lord, Lord” defined “good” as – acting
according to their own law of righteousness. The Pharisees defined
“good” as – following the traditions of the fathers (Mark 7:1-13).
Paul once defined “good” as – persecuting the church. When one is
not “good” according to God’s definition of “good” he cannot and
will not obtain to Heaven.
Finally there is Cornelius. Cornelius was a Gentile military
commander over 100 soldiers. He was, “A devout man, and one
that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the
people, and prayed to God always”…“a just man, and one that
feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews
…” (Acts 10:2, 22). Cornelius was a Gentile living faithfully under
the Law of Patriarchy (this law began with Adam, ended for the
Jews at Sinai, and continued to the Cross for the Gentiles); but yet
he was required, by God, to do more. Why? Because Cornelius
was living on “this side” of the Cross; thus, he was amenable to the
Law of Christ and required to obey the Gospel (2 The. 1:7-9).
“Goodness” was not enough – obedience was required, complete
obedience. An abundance of godly works and piety is truly
commendable, but until one humbles himself and obediently
comes to God on His terms one cannot be saved no matter how
“good” he may be.
One may say, “Well, he doesn’t lie, cheat, or steal. He
doesn’t smoke, drink or do drugs. He is kind to all. He is faithful to
his wife and provides for his family. He obeys the law. He does all
these good things!” Does this mean he is saved? The Scriptures
say, No. The Bible does teach that all these are good things [Eph.
4:28; Rom. 12:17; 1 Cor. 4:2 (good stewards of our bodies); Gal.
6:10; Eph. 5:25, 6:4; 1 Tim. 5:8; Rom. 13:1-2]; but the Bible also
teaches that salvation is only in the Christ (1 Tim. 2:10) one gets
into the Christ through baptism (Gal. 3:26-27) and that the saved
are in the one church which belongs to the Christ (Acts 2:47; Mat.
16:18). In short, one must obey the Gospel to be saved.
One must conclude that to be “good” in one’s own eyes, the
eyes of family or friends, or even the eyes of peers or religious
comrades will ultimately avail nothing. One simply must be obedient
to God’s Word to be good in the eyes of the Lord and find
Heaven after a while (Psa. 34:11-22). – John