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Good people need the Gospel

OPINION by Pastor Chuck DeVane, Special to The Sentinel-Record | August 13, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.

-- Acts 10:1-2, ESV

Most people in the world are good. Now before you start quoting Romans 3 at me, I don't mean good in the sense they are good with God, or good enough to merit salvation apart from the grace of God, I just mean generally good in actions and attitudes.

I believe in the total depravity of the human race, but I also believe in the imago deo, that all humans are made in the image of God. As such, all of us, Christians and non-Christians, are capable of expressing some of the good communicable attributes of God, such as kindness, truthfulness, and a willingness to help others. Sure there are rats among us, but law enforcement friends I know tell me that 10% of the people are committing 90% of the crimes. Most people are generally good, law-abiding citizens, like Cornelius of Caesarea.

Cornelius had a good job, a hard-earned position as a captain of a well-regarded military troop. He had a good home and a good family, with a plethora of good friends and good co-workers. The man had a good life, so it seems, but something was definitely missing. Maybe he needed something more than good, maybe he needed God, in his life, the right God in the right way?

Most of the people in the world today are religious. Christianity claims the most, although most of them are nominal, nonpracticing Christians. Islam is a growing second, and the vast majority of them are tolerant, not terroristic toward other people. Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism are for the most part peaceful, too. It is good, humanly speaking, to be religious, if your religion teaches you virtue and tolerance.

Cornelius was active in his religion, whatever religion it might have been. But, something was definitely missing. Maybe he needed a new religion, or a new relationship, in his life? Cornelius is one of the good guys. He was a devoutly religious man. But, according to Scripture, something was definitely missing.

Most people in the world are good, religious, often generous, and everyone prays. We are not surrounded by serial killers, else we'd all be dead. The whole world is full of people made in the image of God, who lack a saving relationship with God, who need to hear the whole gospel of God. This includes the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, but also the bad news that without Jesus, no matter how good or religious or generous you are, you will miss Heaven and spend eternity in Hell.

Perhaps you are one of the incomplete people in the world. Like Cornelius, you need to admit it, quit trying to suppress it, and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Cornelius' prayer gets answered, and so will yours, if you humbly cry out to God and willingly receive repentance and faith in Jesus' name. Not only will this save your soul, but it can also open the door of salvation for your family members, friends, and others to enter in.

Perhaps you are a complete person, a genuine Christian. Then realize you are surrounded by incomplete people. The book of Acts teaches that the whole gospel is for the whole world, and we the whole people must take it to those with holes in their hearts.

In the next part of this story in Acts, Simon Peter presents himself as the reluctant witness who takes the complete gospel to an incomplete man. Having studied the incomplete man, we will get to the reluctant witness next. But for now, would you be willing to be that witness, go to the incomplete people in your life, and take the whole gospel to the whole world?

Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]

Print Headline: Good people need the Gospel

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