If God is so willing, then why do people not get saved?
Why do people not turn to Christ and flee from the judgment of God and the wrath that is sure to come? Welcome again to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm Bill Wright, and today Don continues teaching God's people God's Word. Continuing in his series titled, Is Christianity True?, Don will show us how we are completely unable to save ourselves, and that apart from Jesus Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit in our lives, all of our efforts to work our way into heaven are in vain. If you've got your Bible handy, let's begin today's lesson with the first half of a message called Christianity Today from the Truth Pulpit. Beloved, you become a Christian by believing in Christ Himself.
That's not as easy as some people try to make it seem. You know, and I would venture to say that a substantial plurality, if not a majority of you, grew up, as I did, under a system of teaching that encouraged you to just pray a prayer, ask Jesus into your heart, and everything settled for all of eternity. And they reduce believing in Christ to a moment in time where people put words in your mouth to pray, and that that simple rote prayer somehow invokes the presence of Christ in your life and makes you a Christian. That is a false view of Christianity, and for many of you that's a shocking statement to hear. We need to work through this.
Here's the challenge and here's the problem that we have. If these things are so conclusively true, as I have laid them out before you, then how do you explain the fact that there are so many unbelieving people in the world? How do we explain the fact that Jesus said the way is narrow that leads to life and there are few who find it? If the facts are so conclusive, and they are, then why is it that so many people walk away and will die in their sins and face an eternal judgment before a holy God?
Why is that if it is so conclusively obvious? Well, that leads us to our first point. We have to deal with point number one, the reality of unbelief. The reality of unbelief. And beloved, this is like one of the most important sections of a sermon I've preached in months, and we've been preaching on a lot of important things for a long period of time.
But this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where men dead in sin collide with the gospel of Jesus Christ. For all of the historical information, the implications of that that we have brought out, beloved, understand this. You must understand this, that the history of Christianity as we have laid it out for you over these past two messages, as compelling as that information is, it can't do anything for your soul except possibly gain your attention temporarily. All that it does is arrest a mental thought for a moment of time, but it is not enough to convert your soul. It is not enough to bring a man from being dead in sin to being alive in Christ.
Factual information does not have that power. Beloved, if historical evidence could make one a Christian, if evidence really did demand a verdict and could produce it, then everyone who lived around Jerusalem in the first century would have been immediately converted after the resurrection, because they saw it all with their own eyes, and many of them walked away dead in sin, more hostile to Christ than they had ever been. When we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it's important for us to understand that even a resurrection, even the resurrection of Christ does not compel belief. Christ is truly resurrected, but many people do not believe. Look at the Gospel of Luke chapter 16.
Luke chapter 16. You'll remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus. A rich man had all of his luxuries on earth. Lazarus, a poor man who was longing to eat crumbs off the rich man's table. The rich man died, Lazarus died, and they went into the realm of the dead. And the rich man, it says in verse 23 of Luke 16, In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame. But Abraham said, Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus' bad things, but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.
And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us. The rich man said, Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment. But Abraham said, They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. And this rich man, still carrying his rebellious spirit, even under torment, still rebels against the teaching of the word of God. And he said to him in verse 30, No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead they will repent. But Abraham said to him, If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded, even if someone rises from the dead.
If a man, a woman, a boy, a girl does not submit to the word of God, does not receive the word of God with a teachable spirit, it's not going to do any good to them to send someone to them that they know is raised from the dead. It does no good. And what does that tell us? What does that tell us about the human heart? For those of you that are here today and you know that you are not a Christian, what does it say to you about the reality of your heart, of your inner man, of the core of who you are, the disposition of your mind toward God and toward Christ?
What does it say? It says that unbelief, unbelief and rebellion rule in the human heart with a power and a force that mere facts cannot dislodge. Let me say that again, because that is the central thing that we need to come to grips with right now. Unbelief and rebellion rule in the human heart with a power that historical facts alone cannot move or dislodge. If a resurrection won't convince somebody to turn from sin and turn to Christ, what else would? Obviously, there is something more than just processing mental information that needs to happen. You see, beloved, the call of the gospel, the call of the gospel to repent from sin and to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, the call of the gospel to turn from sin and self to serve the living God through his son. Here's the problem. That call is against all human desire and beyond all human ability.
Men do not have the power to do that in and of themselves. Jesus himself told us about this problem in advance. Look at the Gospel of John chapter 3. The Gospel of John chapter 3.
We'll read a little bit of an extended context to set the stage for what we need to see. You know, it's so important for us to understand these things biblically and not simply look at them horizontally in an external sort of way. You would think that it would be enough to explain to people the love of God for sinners. You would think it would be enough to explain to them that they are lost in sin and that they are in danger of eternal judgment.
You would think outwardly, apart from Scripture, just rationally thinking that to tell them that they could come to Christ and receive the forgiveness of their sins would be everything that was necessary for them to flee for eternal life and to enter into the safety of the bosom of Christ. You would think so, but if you've done any kind of evangelism or done any kind of preaching you know that this message is usually like preaching to a granite headstone in a cemetery. It's like preaching to the dead. There's nothing in there that responds with life, with a willingness to hear. Why is that?
Why is that? Listen, it's not for any failure of the presentation of the Gospel or any failure of the Word of God. The problem always resides in the heart of the one who hears and rejects it. Consider the message of the Gospel starting in John 3 verse 16. Remember we're dealing with the reality of unbelief. John chapter 3 verse 16, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. There's no unwillingness in God for anyone to be saved.
There is no reluctance. There is no resentment in God. There is a full and free offer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that goes out to everyone. That God will receive anyone who believes in Christ into His kingdom and into His family. Verse 17, For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged. He who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. If God is so willing, then why do people not get saved? Why do people not turn to Christ and flee from the judgment of God and the wrath that is sure to come? Verse 19, Jesus told us in advance. He said, This is the judgment that the light has come into the world.
And here's the whole problem. And men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light for or because. They don't come to Christ because they are afraid that their deeds will be exposed. They, in other words, they love their sin more than they want the gospel.
And until that point is understood, basic understanding is impossible. The reality of unbelief is that men and women so love their sin, are so hostile in rebellion against God that they want nothing to do with a gospel that is in their eternal best interest. They would rather go to hell than to give up their sin.
They would rather cling to their pride and their personal so-called lordship than to submit to the only one who can save their soul. The Apostle Paul adds further perspective on this very point. You don't need to turn to these verses.
I'll just read them. Listen as I do. In 1 Corinthians chapter 2 verse 14, it says, A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised. The gospel is foolishness to the unsaved man. Paul says this also in 1 Corinthians chapter 1, that these things are foolishness to those who hear. In 2 Corinthians chapter 4, Paul adds a whole other dimension to it. It's not simply what's inside the heart of man, but there is a supernatural challenge and obstacle in the invisible spiritual realm that also prevents men from coming to Christ.
Paul said this in 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 3 to 4 when he said, Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the God of this world, speaking of Satan, the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. This is the reality of unbelief, and this is why men do not immediately respond with joy and submission to the preaching of the gospel. In their hearts, they love their sin more than they love obedience. In their hearts, they love themselves more than they would ever love Christ. They are desperately dead in sin, desperately dominated by the devil, and desperately doomed to suffer the wrath of God, and they are oblivious and ignorant of their plight, and furthermore cast away the one hope that is offered to them in love by a willing God.
They slap away the nail scarred hands of Jesus, as it were, and say, Leave me alone. I will not have this man reign over me. I will not bow to you. See, there is a problem deep in the human heart that historical facts cannot overcome. It's not a matter of a lack of information. Indeed, Romans 1 goes on to say that men know in their hearts just by what they see in nature around them that there is a God with eternal attributes to whom they are accountable, and they reject even that. And so, beloved, we step back from that. We realize that man is desperately, desperately lost, that he does not have ears to hear. He does not have eyes to see.
He does not have a heart to believe. And so, if that's the case, how is it that any of us ever were saved in the first place? How is it that when the apostles preached, they preached with confidence, when they knew and understood the heart of men was prone to, was leaning toward, was biased against everything that they said, why did those apostles not find their mission to be utterly impossible? And why is it that we're not just utterly wasting our time by preaching the gospel today?
Or when you speak to family members, why is that not a waste of time? How is it that that rebellious human heart is to be overcome if not by information, if not by human eloquence? How is that to be overcome? Well, that brings us to our second point, and it is this. It is the need for supernatural power.
It is the need for supernatural power. How was it that in the book of Acts we read about 3,000, 5,000 coming to Christ in the preaching of the gospel? How is it, in light of all of this human rebellion that we've described biblically, how is it that the gospel spread geographically so quickly throughout the first century without the means of mass communication or mass transportation? How was it that it spread so quickly in those early decades after the resurrection of Christ?
Beloved, this is what you must understand, and if you are perhaps... And let me just pause here, go on a little bit of a tangent for the sake of what might be in the hearts of some of you here today, because you run into this in ministry over time. People will say, I've tried that and it didn't work. I tried to believe in Christ. I tried to read the Bible. I tried to pray, and nothing happened.
It didn't work. And sometimes people choose then to just walk away and say, I give up, and they want nothing more to do with anything about the gospel that they've heard. What are we to say to that? Well, what we see is that Christianity progresses. A man can be saved only by supernatural power being brought to bear upon their heart. That is why Jesus Christ promised to be with the disciples in their ministry. Let's go to another gospel, the end of Matthew chapter 28. Matthew 28. In Matthew 28 verse 17, Jesus is appearing before the disciples after his resurrection.
It says in verse 17, when they saw him, they worshiped him, but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.
Stop there. Jesus says, I have all authority. Now I'm commanding you as my disciples to go out into all of the nations.
Go everywhere and do what I'm about to tell you to do. Make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to observe everything that I commanded you. Now, if scripture is true at all, Jesus just commanded them to do what is humanly impossible. It is humanly impossible to make a disciple of Christ. And yet he's commanding them to do it. How can we unlock this conundrum?
What can we say to the frustrated person who says, I've tried this and it didn't work? Keep reading. Verse 20, Jesus said, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. That is a promise of supernatural power attending the preaching of the gospel, attending the work of evangelism. It is a promise of supernatural power where Christ says, I will be with you to help accomplish what I am commanding you to do because I understand that you do not have the power to bring this result to pass on your own. It requires supernatural power to convert a single heart. It is a miracle of grace.
It is not a human effort. That is why Jesus said you must be born from above. You must be born from God. You must be born again. It's something supernatural that must happen to the human heart.
This is not a matter of mere intellectual attainment. And so, Christ must be with the preaching of the gospel. Christ must be with the man in his seeking of him or it's all in vain in a like manner. Turn to the book of Acts chapter 2 as we continue to see this need for supernatural power. Acts chapter 2.
In fact, I'm going to take you just a moment earlier, 40 days of a moment earlier. In Acts chapter 1, verse 6, Jesus is getting ready to depart and to ascend back into heaven. And in verse 6, when they had come together, they were asking him, saying, Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel? And he said to them, it is not for you to know times or epics which the Father has fixed by his own authority, but you will receive what? Power. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. And you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the remotest part of the earth. Jesus says you need power in order to do what I am calling you to do.
So before you go out, wait for the power to come. And the power came in Acts chapter 2, verse 1. That's Don Green bringing our study to a close for today from The Truth Pulpit. And friend, we pray you've been blessed. If you'd like to find out how you can support this ministry with a financial gift, simply go to thetruthpulpit.com. Once you're there, just click on the Give button.
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Now just before we go, here again is Don with a closing word. I want to let you know that we have a number of topical series available for download or CD requests at our website, thetruthpulpit.com. Issues like the place of Roman Catholicism, anxiety, transgenderism, homosexuality, and the charismatic movement. You'll find series on those topics and so many more at our free offers link at thetruthpulpit.com.
I invite you to take advantage of them all. God bless you. We'll see you next time on The Truth Pulpit. Thanks, Don. And friend, we're out of time for today. I'm Bill Wright. See you next time on The Truth Pulpit, where we teach God's people God's word.
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