Four Very Religious, But Unsaved Men

by Pastor Art Kohl


Like today, the Bible is filled with people who were very religious, but unsaved. How sad and unnecessary. "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God," Romans 10:3. Let's look at 4 extremely religious men who, if they didn't get saved, would have spent eternity in hell!

1. Cornelius

In the Book of Acts, chapter 10, we read the story of a Roman named Cornelius. This passage tells us that he was a devout and sincere worshiper of God, he feared God, and his reverence for God affected his life; he gave to the poor, he prayed regularly and provided spiritual leadership for his family. But with these most commendable qualities he was still unsaved! Think of it! Religious but lost!

The Apostle Peter is led by God to the house of Cornelius, and speaking of Jesus, tells him, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins," Acts 10:43. Cornelius accept's Christ as his Savior and follows the LORD after his salvation to believers baptism. (vs. 8) Cornelius, though very religious, needed to be saved!

2. Paul

The Apostle Paul, before his conversion, was also religious but lost. "Circumcised the eight day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin and Hebrew of the Hebrews, as touching the law, a Pharisee," Philippians 3:5. He was "taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God," Acts 22:3. He lived after the strictest sect of his religion (Acts 26:5) and as "touching the righteousness which is in the law," Saul was "blameless" (Philippians 3:6.) Yet Paul was unsaved! He was the type of guy who was in the temple every time the hinges on the door squeaked. Though he was always in the temple, he would have never been in Heaven! But Paul got saved! He began to preach a new message, not one of salvation by our own works, but of salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ! I quote Paul after his salvation, "But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

3. Nicodemus

In John, chapter 3, Nicodemus, a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews came to Jesus by night, so as not to be seen, and asked Him about eternal things. Jesus boldly told this religious man, "Ye must be born again," verse 7. Jesus said to him, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God," verse 3. Nicodemus did not understand. He asked, "How can these things be?," verse 9. Jesus gave a lengthy answer which included the most famous verse in all the Bible, "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. He spoke of everlasting life by believing on Him. If we receive Christ as our Savior, we receive spiritual life by a new birth into the family of God! Nicodemus, though religious, never had this experience necessary to go to Heaven.

4. The Ethiopian

This African man traveled from Ethiopia to Jerusalem to worship at the temple. That's a minimum of 900 miles in a chariot! That's a long journey with air conditioning and a smooth ride suspension in a luxury car, let alone in a horse-drawn chariot! Get the picture? This man was religious! He was devout! BUT HE WAS LOST! He was sincere, but sincerely wrong. He even read the Bible. Check out the story in Acts chapter 8, verses 26-39. The Lord sent Philip, the Evangelist, to this Ethiopian, who "began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus." The Ethiopian wanted to be baptized, and Philip said, "If thou BELIEVEST with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he (the Ethiopian) answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Having accepted Christ as his Savior, he was then baptized.


Are you religious but lost? These 4 men's devotion to religion put us to shame, yet they were missing the truth! Jesus said, "I am the truth, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me," John 14:6. If we could gain Heaven by devotion to religion or by doing good works, then the sacrifice of Christ would be wasted. But we cannot save ourselves for it is written, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us ..." Titus 3:5. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness TO EVERYONE THAT BELIEVETH," Romans 10:6.

May this be the day in your life where you, like these 4 religious men, realize it's not enough, and that Jesus Christ is the only Savior. Forsaking their own works and trusting in the finished work of Christ on the cross, they believed unto righteousness. Quit trying and start trusting!

Why not get things right with God right now. Pray from your heart: "Heavenly Father, I do today receive Jesus Christ as my Saviour from sin and its penalty. I believe He died for me and was buried and rose again and trust today in His sacrifice and shed blood for the forgiveness of my sin. Please come into my heart and give to me eternal life. In Jesus' name, Amen."

"WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved," Romans 10:13.

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