Now to the unbeliever, the case which started the initial conversation. Though on the surface of everyday life this situation might appear similar to that of the believer, the reality is completely different. We must also bear in mind (as mentioned in the previous post) that our Lord’s statements and perspective take an eternal viewpoint, whereas we tend to see life situations from the myopic viewpoint of flesh alone (we can’t help it, but it needs to be kept in mind).
The Lord has made no positive commitment for this life, nor given even the slightest hint He has any positive plan, for the unbeliever, beyond possibly bringing them face to face with the Gospel message. Even that is only ‘possibly’ since it is nowhere stated as a given. The unfolding of history will be determined by His plans for salvation, with the unbeliever playing a peripheral role as needed as the primary plan unfolds.
The statements in the verses previously cited (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28, and 1 Corinthians 10:13) are not applied to the unbeliever anywhere in Scripture. Specifically, there is no offer of any of the associated hope or positive future to those individuals. In fact, the reality painted in Scripture appears to be quite the opposite.
When speaking of sinners, be it individually and corporately, God does not (contrary to the popular and unfortunate PR in many churches today) differentiate between the sin and the sinner in His statement of intended judgment and wrath. He portends wrath against the sinner in the commitment of the sin. That’s wrath unto eternal judgment at the hands of Holy God, folks. Yikes! If that isnâ€™t scary, then what is?
As an aside concerning the behaviour of believers, the Lord never tells us to act pro-actively against the sinner in the sense of punishment or judgment. In fact, we are cautioned to not do so, leaving those actions to the Lord. Our mandate is only to present ourselves as His and share His message. We are certainly not to join with the sinner or participate in their sinful activities in doing so, but neither is their future within our mandate in any sense.
Without the cloak of Christ to shield one from the righteous and deserved wrath of God, and release one from the responsibility for sin before Him, the statements of His inescapable wrath should be terrifying to all who hear them. In spite of this, the unsaved can ignore themÂ because those truths are part of the ways of God. They are undiscernable and are foolishness to the ears of those in the world. The unsaved simply can not comprehend that reality from their natural mind, and Satan does his best to convince them that their natural view is correct. But none of that alters the reality of judgment to come.
With that in mind, and even granting that in the larger picture the Lord uses all situations for the overall advancement of His Kingdom, what plans are there for the unsaved? First, by stating in Scripture that he will prosper who He will and condemn who He will, the Lord has implied that he has assigned one of two tracks (no others, nor any combination, is every documented in Scripture) – one for salvation and one for righteous judgment and wrath. For the latter, concerning the unsaved who are of the natural world, the result comes down to who they are governed by. According to Ephesians 2:2, they are among the “sons of disobedience”, governed by “the Prince of the power of the air” (that is, Satan). That being so, the plans within which the unsaved exist are those of Satan, drawing them ever further from the Lord while in this world, with hearts ever more hardened against the Lord’s message and ways.
It should be noted as an aside that it is not the Lord that move the unbeliever on along this path actively. Since they were not marked as Christ’s sheep before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), then the Spirit does not intervene in their path to apply the Atonement to them what was so graciously provided by our Lord . Nothing is done to them by God, but neither is anything done for them. Satan’s plan works out in them while the Lord simply does not intervene in the process of the natural world, and they simply follow their nature in flesh.
This is not to say that they may not participate in good and beneficial act in the world. They often do so, in wonderful acts both large and small. But since “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8) and “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:16), it is clear that when preformed from the unbeliever’s natural state none of those things can be pleasing or acceptable to God. These good acts can not be positively credited to the unbeliever’s account because the acts are of the world not the spirit and coloured by the basic nature of the fallen world. As such they are sacrificially unacceptable to God in their essence, as are all acts that flow from that state of being. Further, it could be speculated that since the unbeliever is not His, they do not have a Heavenly account to which anything could be credited – that account being a parallel benefit of being among His sheep.
All this is to say that there are indeed plans for the unbeliever, and in the case of addicts those plans may include sobriety. But, and this is the real issue, those plans are not part of the saving plan of the Lord in the case of the unelect. Those who are to remain as belonging to the world are governed by the world. They can not (in fact, will not) depend upon the Grace of our Lord to have created a plan from which they will have faith, nor that there will be a positive eternal outcome.
Let all the Glory be His alone.
Next, what of evangelism in this perspective? The challenge of proclaiming the Good News without misrepresentation…