Jerry C. Brewer
Have you ever heard someone say of a deceased friend, “He was such a good person. If he doesn’t make it to heaven, no one will?” Is that God’s sole requirement for eternal salvation? Will God save all good people?
The idea that all “good people” will be saved is a false and deceptive doctrine that will, in fact, send many souls to eternal torment. The doctrine that “all good people will be saved” is preached every day by religious groups across the land and denies the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. There were good people who lived before Christ came. Those who teach that moral goodness is all that is necessary to be saved, imply that Christ came for nothing and that God was a fool to send His Son to the cross of Calvary. Of Nathanael, Jesus said he was “an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile” (John 1:47) and Zecharias and Elisabeth “were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:5-6). These were living when Christ came into the world and were “good people,” but they were not saved without the shedding of Christ’s blood.
Jesus did not bring a single new moral precept when He came into the world. What was morally right or wrong before He came was morally right or wrong while He was here and remains so today. Jesus didn’t come to make men morally upright. Jesus came to save men from their sins.
One example of a good, morally upright man who was lost is that of Cornelius in Acts chapters 10 and 11. The scripture says he was devout, prayed to God always and gave much alms to the people. One would be hard pressed to find his equal in our world today, but Cornelius was lost and needed to hear and obey the gospel in order to be saved.
As Christians, it is certainly necessary for us to live honest and morally upright lives, but not all people who do that are saved from sin but are in danger of eternal damnation. Salvation from sin and its consequences is a matter of doing—not being. Of those who do not understand the need to obey Christ in order to be saved, Jesus said they will be shocked to learn that in the judgment. “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Matt. 7:21).
Moral goodness is necessary not only for the Christian, but God expects it from everyone. However, moral goodness is not the basis of eternal life. One is saved from sins only by obedience to the gospel of Christ which requires faith (John 8:24), repentance (Luke 13:3) confession of Christ as the Son of God (Rom. 10:10; Acts 8:37) and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Unless you’ve done those things, you are still in your sins, regardless of how morally good you may be. One ought to be morally good, but moral goodness does not make one a Christian.