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Question #413

Can I be just a "good moral person" and go to heaven?

Can I be just a "good moral person" and go to heaven?

The Answer:

No. You can't go to heaven without being a "good moral person," but you can't go to heaven just by being such a person. To think that one can be saved as a good moral person is to think that one can be saved apart from the blood of Christ. This means that to think that one can be saved as a good moral person is to think that God needlessly and cruelly sent his Son to die the worst of deaths. To think that one can be saved as a good moral person is to think that he can save himself making both God and Christ irrelevant.

Who defines "a good moral person"? In other words, how good is good? Is the standard different for each person? Most likely, in the eyes of those who have determined for themselves that that they are "good moral persons," it is a standard that each of them has set for himself. Undoubtedly it has been set at a level that they know they can reach. If God is to determine that which constitutes a "good moral person," you have already failed the test, "for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). James says that you guilty of all sins, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all (James 2:10). Paul summarized it very well: "For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth" (2 Corinthians 10:18).

Can you meet the standard of Cornelius who was "a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, who gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always" (Acts 10:2). Yet he was lost, not saved. He needed to heard words whereby he could be saved (Acts 11:14).

Even those who reject the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16) would give the same answer. It is possible to be a "good moral person" without believing that Jesus Christ is the "the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29)!

The very thought of being saved and going to heaven by being a "good moral person" is repulsive to all who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for our sins (Matthew 26:28).

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)