By most people’s standards, Cornelius would qualify as a good person. But his good works, though necessary, would not suffice for him to be saved.
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Salvation for being good

Letter to the Editor:
PASUGO, May 2000, p.2

I TOTALLY DISAGREE with you that only the members of your Church will be saved. I believe that as long as a person is basically good, believes in God, and doesn't bother anyone or commit any major crime, he will be saved.  After all, won't God save those who love Him?

John Moule
Oakland, California

Editor's reply:

It is indeed necessary to strive to be good, believe in God, live a life in harmony with others, and avoid committing crimes. But we must understand how good deeds are made acceptable before God. To answer your query, let us examine the case of Cornelius:

“In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, who was the captain of a group of soldiers called ’The Italian Unit.’ Cornelius was a very religious man. He worshiped God, and so did everyone else who lived in his house. He had given a lot of money to the poor and was always praying to God.” (Acts 10:1-2, Contemporary English Version)

By most people’s standards, Cornelius would qualify as a good person. But his good works, though necessary, would not suffice for him to be saved. God had to send an angel that Cornelius must be instructed to listen to the preaching of Apostle Peter (Acts 10:3-43).

(You may read your Bible from verse 3)
34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— 37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they[e] killed by hanging on a tree. 40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:3-43, NKJV)

After listening and believing in the message preached by Apostle Peter, Cornelius and his household were baptized (Acts 10:44-48).

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. (Acts 10:44-48, NKJV)

Notice that these are the same steps that Christ taught for people to be saved:

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned’.” (Mk. 16:15-16, New King James Version)

Those who are baptized are found in only one body which is the Church of Christ (I Cor. 12:13; Col. 1:18; Rom. 16:16).

13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into[c] one Spirit.  (I Cor. 12:13, NKJV)

18 And He is the head of the body, the church, . . . (Col. 1:18, NKJV)

16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you. (Rom. 16:16, NKJV)

Therefore, in order to be saved, a person must first listen to the preaching of a true messenger (Rom. 10:15), believe in the message, and be baptized into the Church of Christ.

15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:15, NKJV)

This does not imply that doing good works is not important. What is truly good are the commandments of God (Rom. 7:12).

12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. (Rom. 7:12, NKJV)

By obeying them, we do good and show our love for Him:

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. . . ” (I Jn. 5:3, NKJV)



Bible Study Suggestion: If you have further questions, please feel free to visit the Iglesia ni Cristo congregation nearest you. A minister or an evangelical worker would be happy to answer any biblical question you have in mind. For the latest Worship Service Directory of Iglesia ni Cristo Locales and Congregations outside the Philippines, please visit www.iglesianicristoworshipservice.com or just click link at home page.

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