“I BELIEVED THE GOSPEL, SO WHY DO THEY NOT BELIEVE?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
As Christians, indeed, we can look at the lost world around us and wonder (quite amazed) how they can remain unsaved. It is so easy to believe unto eternal life. There is nothing difficult about the simplicity that is in Christ, so what is holding them back? Actually, plenty!
Pride, “the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6), is the chief reason why people stay lost. They refuse to bring themselves to admit their need for the Saviour. They believe they are “good enough” in religion (“I did this…,” “I have done that…”). They assume—and will even tell you—that if they are not going to Heaven, then no one is! Let it be known far and wide, pride (especially religious pride) will send billions and billions to eternal damnation! Again, religious pride will send billions and billions to eternal damnation!
The “goody-goody” Pharisee of Luke 18:9-14 is like today’s religious crowd: “ And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
The cross of Christ—His finished work at Calvary—has forever cancelled any and all boasting of any man. Everyone who enters Heaven will be relying solely on Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for his or her sins. It was not by works of righteousness that they had done but by the work that He had done on their behalf (Titus 3:5-7). The “offence” of the cross (Galatians 5:11), in that verse anyway, is physical circumcision. Apostate Israel, lost Jews, relied on that religious rite to try to make God happy with them.
Israel should have rather learned the lesson of the Law: “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [tutor, teacher] to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). The Law, as God intended, was to cause Israel to arrive at the realization that her religious works could not justify her unto eternal life. Imputed righteousness could come only by faith in His Word to her. Then, that faith would work literally, physically, visibly (exactly as James chapter 2 says). However, Israel bypassed faith and simply went to work. Even today, the cross is ignored, for it is a testament that God does not accept our works and they do not impress Him. He accepts the perfect work of His perfect Son, and that is a blow to our ego (the flesh always loves to perform and boast therein).
“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:26-28).
Turn to 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, “ But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” The way whereby Satan, “the god of this world,” blinds the minds of the unsaved is using works-religion. Paul, as a lost person, once used religion to deceive people. He said in verse 2, “But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
The Bible—specifically the Law—can be used to send people to Hell. Millions upon millions of people sit in churches around the world today, hearing Bible verses, reading Scripture, and still die and go to a Devil’s Hell. Why? They did not place their trust entirely in Jesus Christ. They heard a works message of some kind: they thus brag about how many commandments they have kept, how often they attended services, how much money they gave, how frequently they prayed and confessed sins, how much they loved their neighbor, et cetera. Whatever they did seems to be equal to Jesus Christ’s work at Calvary—and that is certainly blind as blind can be! Until they recognize their lost estate, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), they cannot and will not be saved!
If someone has rejected the Bible (the Gospel or other verses) over a long period of time—as in years or decades—then he or she will be hardened. Proverbs 29:1 says, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” If people do not respond positively to God’s Word (faith), then the Bible hardens their heart. Their neck is stiff, as livestock led by a rope around the neck will not budge. The Bible has a very interesting quality, unlike any other book: it judges the heart, and gives the heart over to what it wants: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Friend, if your heart desires error, God’s Word will let you use it to teach error (your preference). If your heart wants truth, however, God’s Word will give you truth (your liking).
Notice Mark 3:5: “And when he [Jesus Christ] had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.” In the context of a miracle, these works-oriented Jews were callous inside. Their hearts had rejected God’s Word thus far (Genesis through Malachi, as well as Christ’s earthly preaching later recorded for us as Matthew through John). Whatever God was telling them, they became increasingly opposed to hearing it. It caused Jesus Christ to be righteously angered.
Romans 2:3-6 says, “ And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?  But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;  Who will render to every man according to his deeds:…” Billions today have been hardened against God’s revelation, and they are unapologetic. Like the unbelieving Jews during the Acts period, they ignore God’s goodness. They do not want His grace, for grace cancels out what they do in religion. They can do without Christ, or so they claim. They are “doing the best they can,” and they “would rather work for their fruits.” They are Hell-bent on being Hell-bound, so we value their free will!
People reject the Gospel of Grace because they are quite comfortable where they are in life. It will “cost too much” to turn in faith to Jesus Christ. Their friends will leave, their family will disown them, they may lose their jobs and/or standing in their denomination/group, people will persecute them physically, and on and on. They are having “too much fun” mingling with the world to have any real interest in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can see this attitude in Felix, Roman governor of Judaea, as recorded in Acts chapter 24.
“ And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.  And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.  He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.  But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.”
Felix was not yet ready to come to Jesus Christ. When he would “have a convenient season,” he would summon the Apostle Paul to come back and preach to him. Since the unsaved Jews hated Paul (and the Jesus Christ he preached), and Felix had married a Jewish lady, there would be “hell to pay at home” if Felix trusted Christ. Felix was convicted, but the cost was far too great to pay. As far as the record of Scripture is concerned, Felix died a lost man, having never found that “convenient season!”
Proverbs 17:10 is a truth for any age, “A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.” Mark 7:20-23 records the words of Christ: “And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” The human heart is naturally foolish. Since it has outright rejected God’s revelation, it has a very distorted sense of reality. It entertains absurd notions, silly beliefs, and it will not release such confusion without an intense struggle!! Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
Romans 1 says that mankind naturally hates to think about God, and does everything he can to force his Creator out of his mind and life.
 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;  Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,  And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
“ Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
“ For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
Somewhere in that large passage, friend, you will find a reason why everyone who refuses to believe the Gospel refuses to believe.
PRAISE GOD, HOWEVER, SOME FIT UNDER THE CATEGORY OF “WILLINGNESS!”
The Lord Jesus Christ declared in John 7:17, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Here is God’s promise to us forever. If we truly want to know His Word—identify it from counterfeits, understand it, successfully apply it—then He will give us that discernment. Any lost person who has genuine interest in knowing how to have eternal life, permanent forgiveness of all sins, a right stand standing before God Almighty, that person can know it, and know it forever!!!
First Corinthians 15:3-4 declares the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….” Ephesians 1:6-7: “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;….”
Romans 4:1-8: “ What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?  For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.  For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.  Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,  Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
Any Christian who sincerely desires to do God’s will on a daily basis, that believer can know it as well! Colossians 2:6-7: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Friend, do you want some other starting places to discovering God’s will for your life? Go read Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3!
Titus chapter 2 summarizes: “ For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”
They do not realize they are lost—this can be because of simple ignorance or outright defiance, but that is the truth of the matter. Pride is the chief sin that prevents people from coming to faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Religious works often cloud their understanding. They have rejected God’s Word so many times that it is becoming more difficult to receive it each time around. Great attachment to the world is a barrier few lost people (or, frankly, even Christians!) ever overcome. Such worldliness in thought and deed has their full and undivided attention and energy. Distracted by the temporary “glitter and gold” of this passing world, these lost people miss the eternal riches in Christ! Of course, they do not see these truths now, but, one second after death, when it is too late, they realize their deception and doom.
Dear brethren in Christ, may we make every effort to reach them with the Gospel of Grace before they leave this world!
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