WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURES?
How the unconverted are addressed in the Bible.
There have been and, sadly, there still are many debates about how unconverted people are to be addressed in the preaching of the gospel. At one extreme there are those who feel that because the unconverted are totally dead in trespasses and sins (as they most certainly are) they must not be addressed in any direct way at all and certainly never commanded, exhorted, or urged to repent and believe, lest it be implied that they have some inherent ability to do so. At the other extreme there are those who imply that all have a natural ability to repent and believe quite apart from the sovereign intervention and enabling of the Holy Spirit.
Let us read through and think carefully about the way the unconverted and the wicked are addressed in the infallible Word of God and pray that those who are sent to preach the whole counsel of God will find their way between the two erroneous extremes so as to preach the Gospel with warmth, passion, and ‘in demonstration of the Spirit and of power’.
To the man in the streetÂ—
20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:
21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,
22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. (Proverbs 1)
To the simple and the fool-
1 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.
3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.
4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.
6 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips [shall be] right things. (Proverbs 8)
To those who waste their money and their energies and remain dissatisfiedÂ—
1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.
4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people.
5 Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. (Isaiah 55)
To the wicked and unrighteous manÂ—
6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while
he is near:
7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55)
To a “generation of vipers-”
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to
his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath
warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (Matthew 3)
To the impenitent-
1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness
2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17)
To those who had not yet come to Christ-
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I
Will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and
lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11)
To those who would not come to the wedding of the king’s son-
2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. (Matthew 22)
To all kinds of people in the highways-
Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. (Matthew 22:9)
To the Galileans-
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1)
To men generally-
And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; ….
And they went out, and preached that men should repent. (Mark 6:7 & 6:12)
To those still outside the strait gateÂ—
24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying. Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
26 Then shall ye begin to say. We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.
27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are;
depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. (Luke 13)
To those who wanted to kill Jesus and accused Him of blasphemy-
23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5)
To those who followed Jesus for food alone-
27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
28 Then said they unto him. What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6)
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh
to me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37)
To those who had not yet believedÂ—
37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
38 He that Believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7)
To those who were not yet the children of light-
34 The people answered him. We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?
35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. (John 12)
To those who killed the Prince of Life-
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord: (Acts 3:19)
To the man who gave his name to the gross sin of simony-
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. (Acts 8)
To despisers of Jesus Christ-
38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that
through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
40 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;
41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. (Acts 13)
To those who ignorantly worshipped an unknown god-
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now
commandeth all men every where to repent: (Acts 17:30)
To unconverted Jews and Gentiles-19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. (Acts 26)
To all the world-
15 And he said unto them. Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16)