1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. (Acts 10:1–2, NKJV)
Cornelius was a good man. He was a man of devotion, integrity, generosity and reverence. Yet, for all this, he was a man lost in sin. He needed to hear the gospel – words from the apostle Peter by which he and all his household would be saved (Acts 10:22; 11:14). His need for salvation illustrates an important lesson for all who wish to go to heaven: A good moral life does not save a sinner from his or her sins. Only the blood of Jesus does that (Eph. 1:7). Since “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” we all need to be saved from our sin. A good moral life will not do that. Only Christ, through His gospel, saves sinners (Acts 4:12). The gospel that the apostles preached to everybody, including Cornelius, is summarized in this: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16; see Acts 10:43-48).