Why We Preach the Gospel to the Reprobate
The Bible reveals God’s predetermined plan and His foreknowledge in salvation (Acts 2:23). It is clear from Genesis to Revelation that God does not intend to save all people from their sins (Gen 9, 19; Rom 9:22–23; Rev 19–20).
When God raises up a man to be a Gospel preacher, He instructs him to bear witness to all nations (Acts 1:8; 20:28). The man of God does this by preaching the Word (2 Tim 4:2), that is, preaching the Lord Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 1:23; 2:2, 4).
The Gospel preacher heralds news from the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim 6:15). The King of glory is issuing commands to all men everywhere to repent of their sins and rebellion (Ps 24; Acts 17:30). He commands all men to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). Salvation belongs to God (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Rev 19:1), and for the purpose of saving His people from their sins (Mt 1:21), Jesus was sent from heaven as the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29; 3:16).
The end, being the salvation of the body and soul of believers in Jesus (Phil 1:23; Jn 5:29), is facilitated by the means — Spirit-filled men proclaiming Christ, as the one and only Savior of sinners (Titus 1:4; 2:13; 3:6), from every nation, tribe, and tongue (a.k.a. “the world” [Jn 3:16; 1 Jn 2:2]). Preachers of God follow in the footsteps of prophets, apostles, even Jesus Himself. These are said to have beautiful feet (Rom 10:15), for they bring good news of captives set free (Is 61:1).
The Bible, promiscuously preached to all men (Mt 24:14; Mk 16:15; Acts 1:8), reveals the will of God. It is God’s will to make known His glorious grace (Rom 9:23), in calling out a people for His own possession (1 Pet 2:9). From the whole world, a remnant of believers is chosen, called, and gathered into Christ’s church (Mt 16:18; Rom 9:6; 11:5; 2 Thess 2:13).
God is eternal (Dt 33:27; Is 9:6). God is also omniscient. He knows all things from the beginning to the end (Is 46:10). The Lord knows those who are His (2 Tim 2:19). In fact, the apostle Paul taught the biblical fact of God’s election (Rom 8:30, 33; Eph 1:4–5; 2 Tim 2:10). Jesus taught it, too (Mt 24:22, 24, 31; Lk 18:7). These are God’s chosen people for salvation (2 Thess 2:13), who believe the promise of God, who gives eternal life to them (Jn 17:2, 6, 24; 1 Jn 5:12).
God’s sovereignty in salvation is seen by the exclusive work of the Trinity. God the Father made His election (Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4–5), according to His good pleasure (Eph 1:11; 3:11). God the Son, who was given all the elect people of God (Jn 6:37; 17:2, 6, 24), came to redeem them (1 Cor 1:30; 6:20; 7:23), revealing the love of God for His beloved ones (Rom 5:5; 2 Cor 5:5; 1 Jn 3:1; 4:19). God the Holy Spirit is sent to the heart of the chosen ones (2 Cor 4:6), where He applies all the meritorious works of our Lord (imputed righteousness). The grace of repentance and faith is granted so that the new believer confesses, “Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil 2:11).”
The Bible clearly states, “…not all have faith (2 Thess 3:2b).” Jesus assures us that faith is a magnificent thing. Moving mountains is the work of a mustard seed-sized faith (that’s really small!). In contradistinction to Matthew 17:20 and Luke 17:6, it is impossible to please God without faith (Heb 11:6). In fact, Jesus said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing (Jn 15:5).” Seeing that all things are from God (Rom 11:36), believers must thank God for giving them faith (Rom 12:3; Gal 3:22; 5:22; Eph 2:8–9; Phil 1:29; Heb 12:2).
Now if faith comes from God by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ, it is obvious that all men need a preacher (Rom 10:14–17). A man is only justified before God by faith (Rom 3:28). The preacher presents the Gospel of God, and God gives some, not all, the faith to believe it, by His grace (Eph 2:8–9).
The reprobate (non-elect; unregenerate; unbelievers) may or may not hear of King Jesus. Millions, if not billions, have perished since the time of Adam, without hearing the Gospel of God’s grace. Still, others have heard it and died in unbelief. Men are saved by God (Titus 3:5), when He gives them grace to believe (Eph 2:8–9). This only happens as a result of the baptism, regeneration, and indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Mt 3:11; Jn 14:17; Acts 2:38; 10:45; Rom 8:9, 11; Eph 2:5; Col 2:13). The Spirit of God causes an elect soul to be born again of God (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3). He makes the spiritually dead man (Eph 2:1) come alive to God (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13).
The reprobate still has the responsibility to obey God (Rom 3:19), in His Gospel call to repentance and faith (Acts 17:30), but the Bible tells why the reprobate will never generate his own faith (an impossibility). He is dead (Eph 2:1). Dead men do not choose to obey. They cannot choose life (Dt 30:19). Their wills are enslaved to sin and death (Jn 8:34; Rom 6:6, 16). They have no hope, and they are without God in the world (Eph 2:12). Simply put, they do not belong to Christ (Jn 10:26).
Sinful, unbelieving men are not pleasing to God (2 Thess 2:15; Heb 11:6). In fact, the Bible tells us, God hates those who do iniquity (Ps 5:5; 11:5), like Esau, whom God hated before He was born (Rom 9:13). God’s wrath is continually directed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of sinful, unbelieving people (Rom 1:18). Unbelief is an insult to God, motivated by hatred for God (Rom 1:30) and for Christ (Jn 7:7).
It is God’s love, mercy, and grace demonstrated for us (Rom 5:8), His people (1 Jn 3:1), that is most vividly seen at the cross of Christ. He laid down His life for His sheep (Jn 10:11, 15), giving Himself over to death for His bride, the church (Eph 5:25).
We preach Christ to the reprobate so that they might know all these things. You will know the reprobate by their fruit…unbelief. They do not believe our report because they have not received faith from God, so that He might display His just judgment against them. They must turn to Christ, but it is proven they have no will or ability to do so, and this only highlights the mercy and grace of God toward His elect, redeemed, regenerate, believing, adopted children. Glory to Him in all of these things.
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 19, 2022