COLUMN: Good, but still be damned?

Published 8:21 am Sunday, February 25, 2024

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By J. Edward Howell Jr.
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All of us feel that there is at least some good in us. We love our mother and father. We have a great affection for our siblings — sometimes. Our parents dutifully made sure we were churched. When the time came when our Sunday school friends decided to be baptized and join the church, we thought it was a good idea, too. We finished High School, went off to college, and church became a thing of the past, at least for the time we were away from home. We would occasionally attend, especially if we had a date for a dance. We went to sort of impress her. We wore our Christianity like it was a credential. When we returned to working and raising a family, we once again started going back to church.

We got involved in the activities of the church without really thinking about what we were doing. It was just the proper thing to do. Again, it was like a credential thing. This can be likened to calling it a “Head” belief, NOT a “Heart” belief. We considered ourselves to be GOOD people. Our friends told us we were good. Our Pastor told us we were good, and so we were lulled into thinking we were good. Preachers know that asking people to alter their worldly lifestyle is like trying to take a favorite toy away from a two-year-old child, so many preachers soft-pedal the conversion experience.

When God created the earth and the inhabitants thereof, He created man in His image. He created woman from the rib of man. In His aim to have a large family of beings with whom He could fellowship, He gave man and woman free will. They could make decisions, either right or wrong. We know the story. Adam and Eve chose to do what was contrary to God’s plan for them. As a result of their rebellion, God cast them out of the Garden of Eden. This was the original sin that moved God to come to earth as His Son, Jesus. Even though evil became rampart in the world, there were still some men that lived their lives to please God. Three of which were Job, Abraham, and Noah. In His mercy and grace, God still loved His creation and wanted to make a way for them to be reunited with Him in close fellowship. He knew only a major sacrifice could accomplish what He wanted. It had to be done in a way that reestablished the free will ability as a GOOD thing. Remember this! All people born after Adam and Eve were BORN INTO SIN! The only ones who die and go immediately to Heaven before accepting Christ as their Savior are little children who die before they have an understanding of right and wrong (reach the age of accountability). After Christ was crucified on the cross and conquered death as He rose from the grave, His lost people could use their free will to decide to repent of their evil ways and ask forgiveness for their disobedience. As Jesus preached, He told us exactly what we needed to do to receive salvation. Jesus told Nicodemus,” You must be born again.” He was speaking of being born again of the spirit, renewed in our relationship with God, the Creator. In return, God would grant us forgiveness and redemption. This is known as salvation.

Charles Spurgeon, an eighteenth-century Baptist preacher in the United Kingdom, said, and I paraphrase,” It is when a man reaches a point in his life that he feels totally worthless and unworthy to be saved that he has come unto the TRUTH.” The original sin, along with our own personal sin debt, is what makes us unworthy to be saved. We have to capitulate, to unconditionally surrender, and confess our unworthiness to be saved. When we approach God with this confession, He hears our cry and changes our heart. This is the rebirth and the new beginning in Christ. If we do not do this, we demean and devalue that terrible, torturous sacrifice that Christ made for us.

If we ignore this vital truth, we continue to live as good people who are church members, nothing more. We recognize many people who subscribe to this type of life every day. We put on the Christian badge on Sunday and special events. At other times, we live a very worldly lifestyle.

My prayer for all of us is that we live as citizens of Heaven, just passing through while we briefly visit the earth. When you die, where will you spend eternity? Today, you can say, “Yes, I know! Heaven is my home.”

J. Edward Howell Jr. is a native of Southampton County. He can be reached via email at