The Good that is Not Good Enough

The rich young man that asked Jesus – “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” – was, by our standards, a good man. Since his childhood he had kept all the commandments of which Jesus spoke. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:21-22)

 

There is a good that is good enough for man. It is, however, not good enough for God. It was a perfectly holy and blameless God who inspired these words: There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

 

There is a good that may be good enough for your family and friends – and even for you – that still falls far short of the purpose and will of God for your life. For – “we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6)

 

Cornelius was a “good” man – “a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.” And yet he was commanded of an angel to – “Send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter…he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.” (Acts 10:2, 6) The Greek word translated “oughtest” is “dei” which means, “It is necessary (as binding), needful.”

 

In essence, the angel was telling Cornelius, “You are a good man but you are not good enough. There is something more that is necessary and needful for you to do.” Later Peter, as he was defending his going to preach to this Gentile man, stated that the angel had told Cornelius that he (Peter) would “tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” (Acts 11:14) Although Cornelius was a good man, he was still a lost man!

 

Jesus clearly taught that there is no salvation outside of the new birth. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God…Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:5, 7)

 

It was in this same setting, where Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about the need to be born again, that he also spoke these words: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) This verse was never intended to disannul what Jesus, just, moments before, had said in regards to being born again of water and Spirit. The Bible is its own best commentary – and, when Jesus made reference to “believing in Him” and being “born again” in the same discourse – He was merely telling us what would happen to people when they truly believed on him “as the scripture hath said.” For, in John 7:38-39, Jesus had stated that, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”

 

These prophetic words of Jesus were fulfilled for the first time in Acts 2:4 – “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Here, the 120 who had been in prayer awaiting the promise of the Father, suddenly had living waters begin to spring forth from their innermost beings – just as Jesus had said they would when they believed on Him to the extent that “the scripture hath said.”

 

Several years later, when Peter brought the message of salvation to the Gentiles for the first time, we see that they received this very same experience. “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues…” (Acts 10:44-46) Later, when Peter was explaining why he had gone to preach to the Gentiles – he defended his actions saying – “As I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:15-17 – emphasis mine). So, once again, this was a fulfillment of what Jesus had said would occur when people believed on Him as the scriptures say. These Gentiles received the Holy Ghost as a seal of approval – which seal stated that they had now believed in Him – not just any way that they may have chosen to – but as the scriptures had said. “In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise…” (Ephesians 1:13)

 

Acts 2:38 is the fulfillment of John 3:3-5 and John 3:16. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” When we believe on Christ according to what is taught in His word – we will die to ourselves in repentance. We will then bury the old man of sin in the waters of baptism in Jesus name – rising to walk in newness of life through the baptism of the Holy Ghost…fully born of water and of the Spirit.

 

At that point His goodness is put onto our account. And let me assure you – His goodness is GOOD ENOUGH!

Rev. Robert Stroup is the District Superintendent of the Indiana District, United Pentecostal Church International. He is Pastor of Pentecostals of South Lake in Merrillville, Indiana.

 

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