Why People Don’t Believe in Christ
(And the Shocking Grace of God)
December 1, 2019
The turkey is (probably) finished. There might still be a little leftover cranberry sauce. I know the pecan pie has been gone for at least two days. Thanksgiving is over. I hope it was an encouraging and reflective day when you saw much evidence of God’s kindness to you, that made you grateful.
When we are grateful for God’s kindnesses, there can also be a tendency to also recognize the absence of blessings we don’t have. Like a child at Christmas who didn’t get two of the top five requests on his wish list, we can sometimes feel regret and sorrow for lack of things that would make us thankful. I am thinking particularly of the lack of salvation for our loved ones. John says that he has “no greater joy than to see my children walking in the truth” (3 Jn. 4). He is speaking of his spiritual children, but that is also especially true of our natural children. And if that is his (and our) greatest joy, doesn’t that also imply that our greatest sadness is when our children (spiritual or natural) do not walk in the truth? Isn’t it true that many of our greatest sorrows are when people we love — children, parents, extended family, “adopted” family, neighbors who are closer than neighbors, co-workers who are more than just fellow employees — reject the truth of the gospel we long for them to believe?
On my prayer list I have a partial list of family of our church members who have not yet believed the gospel. The list is long and growing — and it is incomplete as it doesn’t have all our church’s unsaved family members on it. And it is typically a long time between opportunities to joyfully remove someone from that list. Those kinds of prayer lists are grievous to us.
In Romans 10:14-15 we read of the believer’s evangelistic privilege — that the Lord has called us to declare the gospel message to the unbelieving. Yet, even when we are faithful to that task, some will not believe. In fact, our grief is not that some will not believe, but that many or even most will not believe. Why is that? Why do people not believe the gospel of Christ when it promises freedom from sin, liberation from Hell, and eternal delight with Christ in Heaven? Why do unbelievers not believe the good news? And, specifically for Paul, why did Israel not believe? It wasn’t the failure of the preacher or the failure of the gospel or the failure of God to choose.
Unbelief is the result of one’s own choice not to believe in Christ.
In fact, unbelief is an act of rebellion against God. Yet even in the midst of the rebellion of unbelievers, there is much evidence of God’s grace — we might even say that when unbelievers reject the gospel, there is still a great demonstration of the surprising nature of God’s grace. His grace is not only amazing, but it is surprising — even shocking — in the way it appears and the way it is granted.
This morning we will look at these five verses twice — once from the perspective of man’s unbelief (why and how he does not believe), and a second time from the perspective of God’s grace (how amazing is it?).
What does unbelief look like — from man’s and God’s perspectives?
- All Men Are Responsible for Their Unbelief
- They do not obey God (v. 16)
- They do not believe God (v. 17)
- They do not listen to God (v. 18)
- They do know God (v. 19)
- They do rebel against God (vv. 20-21)
- God is Shocking in His Grace
- God has revealed good news (v. 16)
- God has proclaimed Christ (v. 17)
- God has declared Himself to the world (v. 18)
- God has redeemed people who were not His (vv. 19-20)
- God has been patient with rebellious Israel (and all sinners) (v. 21)
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 10:16-21.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.