4th May 2014
Aren’t all good people Christians?
‘Aren’t all good people Christians?’ The obvious answer is No – for there are many good people who declare they are not Christians: they are Muslims or Buddhists or Atheists or whatever instead. However, behind that question is the thought that God wants us to be good, and if we are good that is all that matters: we are acceptable to God whatever our creed.
In many ways the Bible agrees with that thought. ‘There will be glory, honour and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favouritism.’ (Romans 2:10,11.) But what does it mean to be ‘good’?
The reading in Acts 2 is the end of Peter’s speech to thousands of Jews who had come to Jerusalem to take part in the Pentecost festival. Most of them were good people, we’d imagine, yet Peter tells them all to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus. The truth is that if all that matters is what God wants, then we need to know what God means by ‘good’. Our own definitions are irrelevant! What does God require of us? What does the Founder of Christianity say on this subject?
Jesus linked ‘good’ with ‘keeping the commandments’. However, he was not interested in legalistic purity. God’s commands had to be kept from the heart, especially the two most important commands – to love God and one’s neighbour. So when a man asked him what good thing he had to do to get eternal life, Jesus replied, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good.’ (Matthew 19:17.) If we want to be good enough for heaven we have to be as good as God himself. Nothing less will do.
The heart of the Gospel is that Jesus himself is God’s way of enabling human beings to be united to God, now and for ever. ‘He died that we might be forgiven, he died to make us good, that we might go at last to heaven, saved by his precious blood.’ Jesus has done his part. Our part is to commit ourselves to him, our Lord and Saviour, in obedience, faith and love.
1) ‘If Jesus has put me right with God, now I can do what I like.’ Is that right?
2) Why is baptism important?