Is there anything in us our without us that 'causes' some to be persuaded that Christ is the Messiah while others are not?
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Christians have all come to believe and trust that Christ is the Savior who came to take away our sin, and that He died and rose again. We believe that God will one day Resurrect us into new, spiritual bodies, and we will live forever in the Kingdom of God. But why did we receive the gospel in faith, while so many others in the world reject the gospel when they hear it? This isn’t the sort of question that has a single answer. There's no specific merit or genetic trait that some people have and others don’t. There's no intrinsic or extrinsic factor making some believe. There are many potential reasons someone might accept or reject Christ. Humans have the complex, God-given ability to evaluate information that doesn’t have ‘concrete’ proof – such as the existence of germs or whether or not we believe someone else is telling the truth. But each individual human has their own experiences and biases that affect their analysis or priority of any new information or how much trust they might put in someone’s testimony. Some prioritize trust, or feeling, or reason, or evidence. And this isn’t as simple as someone being ‘more trusting’ or ‘more rational’ being more likely to believe, since those who are more trusting may put trust in the wrong things, and the wisdom of the world finds the gospel ‘foolishness’ (I Cor 3:18-20, I Cor 1:23.) There are many things within and without us that may distort or resist an honest evaluation of the gospel: imagination, arrogance, rebellion, distraction, worldliness, errant education, false teaching, hurt, etc. Countless factors might feed into someone putting faith in Christ or rejecting Him. There can be a lot of crossover, and no one factor is a guarantee of someone’s acceptance or rejecting of the gospel. Here are just a few potential factors for some accepting or rejecting Christ, the gospel, and/or God’s word: Rejection: 1) Refusal to be persuaded (Rom 10:21, Rom 2:8, Acts 19:9, Jer 9:5-6, II Thess 2:10-11, Rom 1:21-22) Some specifically refuse to be persuaded by the gospel. Some motives scripture gives for this are self-interest, obstinance, self-deception, and hardened hearts. 2) Contradicting; that is, those who argue against the gospel because they hope to thwart it. Those who are argumentative have started with their conclusion, don’t want to consider they might be wrong, and want to keep others from concluding differently. (Rom 10:21, Acts 13:25, Acts 19:8, II Cor 5:10) Pride and jealousy can be motives. 3) Neglect; not giving thoughts of salvation a high priority (Heb 2:1-4, Matt 22:5, Psa 14:1) This can happen when someone doesn’t view spiritual matters as significant, whether due to apathy or deliberately dismissing the metaphysical. 4) Stubbornness (Isa 46:12, Ezek 2:4) 5) Self-righteousness (Matt 9:11-12, Jer 8:21-22, Lk 10:29, Rom 10:3) 6) Wanting more and more ‘signs’ as proof (I Cor 1:23, Matt 11:20-22, Jn 6:26-27) 7) Love of sin (Jn 3:19, Prov 2:13-4, Prov 8:36, I Jn 2:15-17. II Thess 2:10-12) 8) Fear of exposure of sin (Jn 3:20, Job 24:15-17) 9) Delusion (Isa 44:19-20, Rom 1:25, II Tim 3:13) 10) No opportunity (Rom 10:14) 11) Think they are a child of God but don’t truly follow God (John 10) 12) Don’t believe testimony of Moses or scripture (Jn 5:46-47, Lk 16:29-31) 13) Try to achieve salvation by works/merit (Col 2:22-23, Gal 5:4, Gal 3:11, Rom 3:10-28) 14) Seeks glory from man, not God (Jn 5:44) Acceptance: 1) A noble and generous heart (Luke 8:15, Acts 17:11) This is not a ‘sinless’ heart, but one prepared for salvation and ready ready to embrace the word and keep it 2) Trusting as a child (Mk 10:14) 3) Waiting for salvation (Luke 2:25, Acts 13:26-48) 4) Believe testimony (Jn 10:42, II Thess 1:10) 5) Study scriptures (II Tim 3:15, Acts 17:11, Jn 20:31) 6) Humility (Matt 23:12, James 4:10, Psa 25:8-10)
Actually there is a very simple answer. All of mankind are sinners so we are all bound for Hell. God in His infinite wisdom decided before the foundation of the world to save a certain number of people who He calls the elect. The elect and only the elect hear His voice and respond to His call. Those that He did not predestine to salvation will follow the normal course of mankind and they will perish. This is neither unfair nor unmerciful. Romans 9:15-16 “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it." Romans 9:18 "So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen." God is the One that chooses those that He will adopt into His family and God is the One who decides who will receive His salvation or not. We are not the ones who choose to follow God. We are all depraved sinners, and the fall completely destroyed our inner goodness, it didn't just "taint" it.
From observing people that I know and have witnessed to (many times over) I have come to the conclusion that a person who has heard the good news of salvation and still rejects it, is because that person WANTS to continue in his/her sin. Inside of their heart they know that they will be accountable, so if they just push it away or reject it, they can continue in their unbelief and sin and nothing will matter. So they choose darkness over light and they think they can control their own destiny without Jesus.
This is like my question of "Why does one brother, a twin, accept Jesus, but the other does not? Raised in the same home, same education, same resources, same personality (mostly), same parents, same preaching and teaching, same everything. The answer is like what God said of Jacob and Esau: Before the brothers were yet born and did not even have the chance to do good or bad: "Jacob I loved, and Esau I hated." God chooses those that are His (Romans 8:29-30; John 6:37-40; John 8:43; John 10:26-27; Acts 13:48; John 15:16, etc)
People either believe God or not. First Corinthians 1:21 We can only preach the gospel, First Corinthians 15:1-4. We can not save anyone. Christ died for the sins of the whole world. First John 2:2. And it is Gods will that everyone believe it and be saved. First Timothy 2:4. But people have to realize they are sinners on their way to a literal burning hell to know they need a savior. Some people get it and some don't. Romans 1:16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone the believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. John 3:16-18. We believers believe it, because Jesus said it, and that settles it. John 6:40, John 6:29. John 6:47. God can not lie. John 6:24. First John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may KNOW YE HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. God wants us to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He gives us eternal life by faith alone in His finished work on the cross alone. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. The GIFT of God is eternal life. All we have to do is believe it and receive the free gift. If you have eternal life today, you will still have it 1,000 years from now because it is eternal and it is a free gift by faith in Jesu alone. Romans 4:5-8. You can not boast in free, and no one can earn heaven. Romans 11:6. Our best works could never pay our sin debt. Jesus paid the debt and set us free.
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