The Good Person In God's Sight
Letter to the Editor:
PASUGO, March 1996, p.3
THERE IS A ravaging illness that runs in the family I belong to. It has already taken the lives of a number of my uncles and aunts. I am not afraid of the illness or the death it brings but of what is in store for me when I die.
As a Catholic I have learned that the good go to heaven and hell is for evildoers. But, it is unclear to me as to what kind of good deed it is to be done for one to be worthy of God's kingdom.
Is there a way that I could be considered good in spite of the unintentional mistakes I make once in a while?
It is commendable that you have the foresight to prepare for death, an inevitable reality that will overtake all of us sooner or later. That you have this viewpoint shows that you are concerned about what will take place after death, that is, when we all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive what is due us, according to our deeds be it good or bad (cf. II Cor. 5:10).
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
(II Corinthians 5:10, NKJV)
Thus, your query as to what good needs to be done to be worthy of God's kingdom is a wise question. Why did we say so? Because most people presume that they know what is good. What are some of these presumptions?
- Some believe that by being upright by one's own standard, one will be saved.
- For others, all one is to do is believe in our Lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior and he is saved.
- Still others hold on to the belief that using the Savior's name in performing "miracles" and other wondrous deeds will merit a person the salvation of his soul.
In effect the good that needs to be done to be worthy of salvation depends on one's personal beliefs and values. Good to them, then, is a relative thing. Is this so? Let us first examine these presumptions in the light of the truths of the Holy Scriptures.
1. Does the Bible approve of the belief that it is only by being righteous that one is saved? Apostle Paul answers us accordingly:
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, " (Titus 3:5, New King James Version)
A case in point is the centurion named Cornelius, If we will be the ones to decide over his salvation he would pass with flying colors for he was a devout man, God-fearing and charitable. (cf. Acts 10 :l-2), However, the good deeds he had done were not enough.
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. (Acts 10:1-2, NKJV)
He was instructed by the angel of God to send for Simon Peter in order for him and his household to hear the words of God (cf. Acts;10:3-8, 33-34).
About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. 6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” 7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. 8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa.
So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.” 34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. Acts;10:3-8, 33-34, NKJV)
Not only did Cornelius and his whole household receive God's words, but more importantly, they believed in the gospel and received baptism (cf. Acts 10:34-48).
It is quite clear, therefore that being upright is not enough for one to be saved.
2. What about those who simply believe and call upon the Lord Jesus' name, one is saved? Christ answers them thus:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." (Matthew 7:21, NKJV)
Simply calling upon the Savior's name will not guarantee a person of salvation.
3. What if he not only call upon Jesus' name but use it to do many wonderful deeds? This is what the Lord Jesus Christ's answer:
"Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ " (Matthew 7:22-23, NKJV)
If the above-mentioned things which many people consider as good, merits no weight for salvation, what then is the good that needs to be done by man for him to be saved? In the first place, what is it that is good? The Bible says:
"Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good." (Romans 7:12, Ibid.)
What is good, therefore, is God's, law―His will as written in the Scriptures. This is the good that man needs to do in order for him to enter the kingdom of God (cf. Mt. 7:21).
"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." (Mt. 7:21, NKJV)
What is God's will regarding all men? All men must be gathered in Christ and this is done by becoming members of His body, the Church (cf. Eph. 1:9-10; Rom. 12:4-5; Col 1:18).
9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. (Eph. 1:9-10, NKJV)
4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. (Rom. 12:4-5, NKJV)
18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (Col. 1:18, NKJV)
Which church is being referred to by Apostle Paul? This is the Church of Christ which the Lord Jesus Christ purchased with His blood:
"Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood." (Acts 20:28, Lamsa)
Joining the Church of Christ, therefore, is the good deed that needs to be done by man for him to be saved. But, those who have joined His Church must remain faithful to the commandments of God and endure to the end (Mt 24:13).
Note: Verses in smaller font were added for clarity. Emphasis ours.
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.
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