Just FYI, I really enjoy listening to Alister Begg. And it’s not just the accent, even though I, like most Americans, am easily taken in by Scottish accents. I just find that he is exceptional at exposition coupled with application. I’m telling you this because in this post I want to comment on something he said last week. The gist is this: in John chapter three we find the story of Nicodemus, the Pharisee, being introduced to the truth of the new birth. In John chapter four we have the woman at the well, an immoral woman (to put it kindly), being given the living water. Begg’s quote, in reference to these two individuals is:
“No one is so good that they don’t need a Savior and no one is so bad that Jesus can’t save them.”
We tend to fall into one of two camps. On the one hand, we tend to compare ourselves to others, or society at large, and pronounce ourselves, based on those comparisons, as pretty good. In fact, I have, on occasion, said things like, “well, he’s a good moral fellow, but he doesn’t know Jesus.” We tend to lose sight of the holy standard of God. The truth is our goodness is not determined by comparisons to other people. The reason we are not good is because the standard by which we are measured is God Himself and His Word. Think about this: the greatest good is to love God. Isn’t that the point of Jesus’ confrontation with the rich ruler?
Just then someone came up and asked Him, “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?”
“Why do you ask Me about what is good?” He said to him. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he asked Him. Jesus answered:
Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness;
honor your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as yourself.
“I have kept all these,” the young man told Him. “What do I still lack?”
“If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
When the young man heard that command, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:16-22)
This fellow was not good. The reason is that he missed the ultimate goodness of loving God above all things. See, if someone rejects Jesus, he is not good. He might be a great neighbor and wonderful husband. He is not Hitler or Stalin. But he refuses the highest good of loving God first. He rejects the highest good of bowing to the Lordship of Jesus. This is the case for Nicodemus and each of us. In the eyes of society he was a good man who could save himself. But he was not good by God’s standard. We may not be as bad as other people but our goodness is not good enough to save us. In fact our lack of goodness condemns us. We need a Savior. And Jesus can save.
The flip side is we think we are too sinful. If you are reading this (thank you) and you think you are too sinful for Jesus to save you, consider the woman in John 4. Multiple husbands. Marry. Divorce. Repeat. Finally give up on that failed cycle and just shack up. Besides her lifestyle, she was rejected by the uppity ups because of her nationality. Everything about this person declared “UNSAVEABLE” and yet Jesus saved her. There is no sin so heinous that Jesus can’t forgive. Jesus delights in saving sinners. He came “to seek and to save the lost.” He died to pay the penalty of our sin and He completed that task. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
One more note, o faithful reader. This truth remains true in the believer’s life. Everyday we need to remind ourselves of our need for a Savior and the sufficiency of Jesus to save. We will never reach a place when we no longer need a Savior. Our growth and maturity that results in obedience and good works should lead us to gratitude for His grace, not pride over being “better than so and so.” We need Jesus everyday and everyday He is sufficient to save and keep us. Thanks be to God there is a Savior for all and every sinner who will trust in Him. Thanks for reading! Peace out.