Jesus’ Critique of Unbelievers

Jesus is the Light of the world (Jn 8:12; Jn 9:5). When He came into the world, the darkness did not comprehend Him (Jn 1:5). Men love darkness (Jn 3:19) so they walk in darkness, as sons of disobedience (Eph 2:2) in the futility of their minds (Eph 4:17). Their deeds are evil (Jn 3:19), derived from an evil heart (Gen 6:5; Jer 17:9). Men are doing the deeds of their father, the devil (Jn 8:41).

God is calling all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). He does this through preachers of the Gospel (Mt 24:14; Mk 16:15), who preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Jn 2:2). They proclaim Him (Col 1:28), as the exclusive Savior of sinners (Acts 4:12; Tit 2:13). It is therefore crucial to understand how Jesus saved His people from their sins (Mt 1:21), which will also teach us who Jesus is not saving.

Before Jesus, the Son of God, created all things (Col 1:16), an elect group of people were given to Him by God the Father (Jn 6:37; 10:29; 17:2, 6, 24). Before the foundation of the world, their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 13:8; 17:8).

Jesus Christ came into the world to reconcile the chosen people of God, that is, to save them from the wrath of God directed at sinners of Adam’s fallen race (1 Thess 1:10). The method of His redemption was crucifixion on a Roman cross, where He shed His precious blood of the eternal covenant for the forgiveness of their sins (Mt 26:28; Eph 1:7; 1 Pet 1:19).

Upon His triumphant return to the glorious throne of God in heaven (Ps 24; 110:1; Mk 16:19; Heb 1:3; 10:12; 12:2), the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26; 15:26; Acts 1:8) to secure the elect, redeemed people of God’s own possession (Tit 2:14; 1 Pet 2:9).

Holy Spirit-filled preachers proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ wherever the Spirit leads them into the world (Prv 3:5–6; Acts 1:8; Rom 8:14; Gal 5:18). These are said to have beautiful feet (Song 7:1; Rom 10:15) because they are sent to herald the Good News of what Christ has done for His beloved church, the Israel of God (Is 49:1–6; Rom 5:8; Eph 5:25; Gal 6:16).

Having heard the Gospel of grace, the elect, redeemed of the Lord are baptized into the church and made alive by the Spirit (1 Cor 12:13; Eph 2:5; Col 2:13). They are granted faith in Christ (Phil 1:29), according to God’s measured allotment for them (Rom 12:3). Faith is not blind. The true knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation for those who believe (Rom 1:16–17; 2 Pet 1:2–3). Like the Apostle Paul, we know whom we have believed (Ps 119:66; Is 43:10; 2 Tim 1:12).

God was pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe (1 Cor 1:21); but what about those who do not believe in God’s one and only Son?

We learn from Jesus why most people do not believe in Him, who is Lord of all (Acts 10:36) and Savior of the world (Jn 4:42). Stated another way, here is the plight of the damned, or Jesus’ critique of unbelievers.

First, the reprobate unbeliever cannot see the kingdom of God (Jn 3:5). In Jesus’ day, the King of the kingdom of heaven was standing in front of whoever Jesus was talking to at the moment. Today, the kingdom of God is in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). Just as Jesus opened the eyes of the physically blind (Jn 9), so the Spirit opens the eyes of the spiritually blind, by causing them to be born again of God (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3).

Regeneration by the Spirit makes the dead soul alive to God (Eph 2:1, 5; Col 2:13). Dead men do not believe, which is why the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:14). Without spiritual discernment from the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9, 11), his assessment is that the Gospel of God is foolishness (1 Cor 1:18).

Faith is a gift of God’s grace (Eph 2:8–9), granted by God’s Spirit (Phil 1:29) at one’s baptism into the church (1 Cor 12:13), which means it is a common faith (Tit 1:4; Jude 1:3), received by all the saints (2 Pet 1:1). In other words, if one does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ (Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 3:23). Jesus Himself taught that men do not believe in Him because they are not His sheep (Jn 10:26).

Second, the reprobate unbeliever cannot hear the voice of Christ in the preached Word of God (Jn 5:37; 8:43). The reason for spiritual deafness that remains is that these people are not of God (Jn 8:47). Christ Jesus calls for His sheep to come to Him (Mt 11:28), but these are unwilling to come to Jesus (Jn 5:40), so that they may have life, abundant (Jn 10:10) and eternal (Jn 3:16).

Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6), and without faith there is no justification for the sinner before the judgment seat of Christ (Rom 5:1; 2 Cor 5:10). Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17). The Spirit of Christ opens the ears of the spiritually deaf by the preaching of the Word (Rom 10:13–17).

Third, the Word of God does not abide in the heart of the reprobate unbeliever (Jn 5:28). Jesus is the Word of God (Jn 1:1) made flesh (Jn 1:14), the second Adam (Rom 5:12–21), a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor 15:45), who gives life (Jn 6:63) to whomever He wishes (Jn 5:21). This life is the life of faith for those who have the Son of God living in them (Gal 2:20). It is the work of God that one believes in the One whom He has sent (Jn 6:29).

Fourth, reprobate unbelievers do not have the love of God in them (Jn 5:42) because God has not loved them in accordance with His eternal covenant (1 Jn 4:19). God the Father loves the Son ergo He loves those who are in Christ Jesus, having poured out His love within our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5).

Christians celebrate in hope of the glory of God (Rom 5:2), but reprobate unbelievers seek glory from one another and not the glory that is from God (Jn 5:44). These do not honor the Son; hence, they do not honor the Father (Jn 5:23). In fact, they are without hope and without God in this world (Eph 2:12), being already condemned in their unbelief (Jn 3:18). The wrath of God remains on those without the propitiatory shelter of Christ (Jn 3:36; Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17; 1 Jn 2:2; 4:10).

Just as Jesus came to men in the Father’s name (Jn 5:43), so today’s preacher comes in Jesus’ name, but neither Jesus nor His Spirit-empowered witnesses are received by reprobate unbelievers (Jn 5:43). It is only by the will of God that one receives Jesus (Jn 1:12–13; Rom 9:15–16), but the vessels of wrath are prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22). These will die in their sins (Jn 8:24).

Reprobate unbelievers hate Jesus, today, as much as they did when He walked the earth (Jn 7:7), and this hatred is also directed at those who follow Him (Jn 15:18) because believers in Jesus are not of the world, as other men who suffer Jesus’ critique (Jn 8:23). Believers have been born from above, but reprobate unbelievers have will not be so because where Jesus has gone, they cannot come (Jn 8:21).

In summary, we have explained salvation from God toward His elect, redeemed, regenerate, believing remnant. We have also considered those void of His salvation and Jesus’ critique of reprobate unbelievers.

In conclusion, reprobate unbelieving people were not chosen for salvation (2 Thess 2:13), in God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23). They were not appointed to life in Christ (Acts 13:48). They were not predestined to election (Eph 1:4–5). Their names were not written in the Lamb’s book of life from before Creation (Rev 13:8; 17:8).

Before His redemptive death on the cross for His beloved church, Jesus critiqued those who would die in their sins. These who hate Christ have no love for God in their hearts. They have no place for His Word in them. They cannot hear Christ nor see His kingdom. They do not believe because they belong to the world, being not of God or Christ. In short, Jesus did not Author their faith (Heb 12:2).

Finally, all that is missing in the reprobate unbeliever is because the Spirit of Christ has done no work in these dead souls. This is God’s prerogative in making the wicked for the day of evil (Prv 16:4), that is, vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22). They are ever blind, deaf, dumb, and spiritually lame with the Gospel of salvation because this is God’s will for them, according to His eternal decree, from which all things have their place.

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

January 26, 2021


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David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher