People Who Cannot Believe?

Q. I’m asking for your opinion on an apparent contradiction regarding why people just cannot believe. In approximately 20 verses, Jesus explains that in order for people to believe, Father God must “grant” them to ability to believe, and He must “give” them to Jesus. But, in 2 Corinthians 4:3, Paul says the reason is that Satan has blinded the minds of those who cannot believe. Perhaps we need to view this as God over-riding Satan’s work in the lives of the “elect” because of His foreknowledge.

A. In His clearest passage on belief the Lord said God sent His only Son that whosoever believes would not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16). This implies that anyone can choose to believe and if they do they’ll gain everlasting life. John 6:28-29 makes it even clearer. Jesus said that the only work God requires of us is that we believe in the one He sent. How can He require belief and then withhold from some the ability to do it? And 2 Peter 3:9 says God doesn’t want any one to perish, but for all to come to repentance. If He wants everyone to come to repentance (believe) why would He prevent some from doing so?

In 2 Cor. 4:3-4 Paul said if our gospel is veiled, it’s veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers. By definition, unbelievers are those who have refused to believe something they’ve heard. So, this doesn’t mean they can’t believe the Gospel because they’ve been blinded, it means they’ve been blinded because they refused to believe the Gospel. That’s why they’re perishing. This is consistent with Paul’s statement in 2 Thes. 2:9-10 that Satan deceives those who are perishing. He said they’re perishing because they refused to love the truth and be saved. Again unbelievers are not ignorant of the truth. They’ve heard it and rejected it.

The resolution to this is found in Romans 8:29 where we see that God “grants” the ability to believe to those He has foreknown to be believers, and because of this He “gives” them to Jesus so they can be saved.

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