The question often arises in business meetings and in general discussions among concerned brethren why more people don’t manifest an interest in the gospel of Christ. Why don’t more people believe? The question is often asked as if there is one, single, simple answer. But the truth is more complex. While unbelief may well be the thread of thought that underlies all rejection of God, the reasons for unbelief are varied and numerous.
Some do not believe simply because they are fools. “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God” (Psalm 19:1). The evidence is there, readily available to them, if they would be honest with the truth and themselves. “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard” (Psalm 19:2-3). Thus, all are without excuse (Rom. 1:20). Some people, however, simply do not believe because they are fools.
Some do not believe because they are blinded. Paul wrote, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:3-4). Unlike the atheist who sees the evidence but denies it, these are blinded and cannot see the evidence (Eph. 4:17-19). Naturally, satan is behind all unbelief, whatever the cause (John 8:44).
Some people do not believe because they hold the praise of men to be more valuable than the praise of God (John 12:42,43). Some of the Pharisees believed in Jesus but were afraid to confess Him because they did not want to be put out of the synagogue (John 12:42). Jesus said: “How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?” (John 5:44). The Bible teaches we cannot serve two masters (Matt. 6:24). If we love the praise of men more than the acceptance of God, then we will not believe or our belief will be vain.
Some people will not believe because their hearts are hardened. Israel’s heart was hardened to the point that they could not enter the promised land (Psalm 95:8-11). There are many causes of hardening of the heart but the end result is that the gospel cannot penetrate enough to bring about repentance. On the day of Pentecost, the Gospel was able to penetrate and prick the heart and three thousand souls were saved (Acts 2:36). Unless the heart can be pricked, there will be no faith (Luke 24:25).
Some people will not believe because they do not love the truth. Jesus said, “And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe Me?” (John 8:46). Jesus here implies that we ought to love the truth enough to accept it, whatever it is. Some people, however, receive not the love of the truth (II Thess. 2:10). Because some people do not love the truth, they will change the truth of God into a lie (Rom. 1:25). We have to buy the truth and sell it not (Prov. 23:23).
Some people will not believe because they know that God requires them to change their life and they do not want to give up their sins. In Romans one, Paul described those that reject God and it was for this cause God gave them up unto vile affections (Rom. 1:26). How many people have embarked on a life of unbelief simply because they did not want to give up their sinful life (cf. Matt. 19:16-22)?
Still others do not believe because they do not seriously and purposefully study God’s word. Paul wrote, “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Saving faith is a product of evidence. God’s word was written so that we might believe (John 20:30,31; I John 5:13). Want deeper faith? Immerse yourself in the word of God.
Thus, we see that there are several reasons given in the Bible that people do not believe. There are also many others reasons people might not believe. Some people might not believe because they have had a bad experience with religion or with the Lord’s people. Some people might have experienced tragedy and they blame God for it. Some people may not believe because their parents did not believe. Some people may not believe just because they have never given any thought about it. Other may not believe because they are rebellious. Still others may not believe and may not even know why they do not believe.
One thing is certain: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16 ).
Eric L. Padgett