Q. Last night I had a conversation with a younger man and he is confused. I told him that the only way you can be saved is to accept Jesus Christ as savior, admit you’re a sinner, and ask for forgiveness. His biggest hang up is his concern about good people who never accept Christ, people who rarely sin, always ready to help the needy and so on. I tried to explain they are lost without Jesus, but he can’t accept that. I don’t know where to begin to explain it to him. Can you help me?
A. Your friend is confused because he doesn’t understand that we’re saved because of what we believe, not because of how we behave (John 6:28-29). No human being can ever behave well enough to please God (Romans 3:20). His standards are simply too high. In fact, Jesus said to meet His standards we have to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48).
Unbelievers have a relative standard. They look at people and think that the best of us must be good. And compared to the others they are.
But God’s standards are absolute. Rarely sinning is not good enough for Him. Only never sinning is acceptable. We can’t meet those standards so Jesus paid the penalty due us for our sins and God counted His death as payment in full for all of them (1 Peter 3:18). This meets God’s standard by allowing Him to see us as if we’re as perfect as He is (Hebrews 10:12-14). All we have to do is believe that Jesus died for us (John 3:16).
If your friend will admit to committing even one sin, then he’s a sinner in need of a savior. (James 2:10) All of man’s good works count for nothing until he’s handled his sin problem.
Ask your friend if he’s really willing to be lost along with the “good people who never accept Christ” because of his concern for them, or is that just the excuse he gives for avoiding the issue?