DOES MORAL GOODNESS MAKE ONE A CHRISTIAN?

Mike Johnson

Many honest and sincere souls mistakenly believe that if a person is morally good, then he is a Christian.  No one can be a faithful follower of Christ without being on a high moral plane.  However, Christianity is more than merely being moral.


Acts 10 tells about a man named Cornelius, whose living standard, from a moral standpoint, was above reproach.  The moral life of this man would put many Christians to shame.  He is described (Acts 10) as a “devout man,” “a just man,” and one, “which gave much alms to the people.”  In spite of these good traits, he was not a child of God.

Peter came to Cornelius’ house and told him what he needed to do to be in a saved state. Before this, it is clear Cornelius was an unsaved person. In Acts 11, Peter defended himself to the Jewish brethren for having preached to the Gentiles. In doing so, Peter cited what the angel had said to Cornelius, which was, “. . .  Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved (vs. 13-14).”   Thus, before the arrival of Peter and his preaching, Cornelius, a very moral man, was unsaved.

Further, Cornelius’ prayers and good deeds did not save him, nor was he saved because of hearing an angel.  Instead, he was saved by hearing and believing (Acts 15:7), repenting, (Acts 17:30-31), and by being baptized (Acts 10:48, 2:38).

If moral goodness could save someone, undoubtedly Cornelius, a cut above most, would have been saved.  Moral virtue alone could not save him, and it cannot save us today.  However, we must not get the wrong idea.  A Christian must have high morals, but it takes more than merely being morally good to be a Christian and to be saved.

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