The State of the Unconverted
James Smith, 1859
Who are the unconverted? Many, it is to be feared — who imagine that they are in the way to Heaven, and that all will be well with them at last — are still unconverted. An unconverted person may believe the Bible to be God's Word, not harboring a doubt of its authenticity or inspiration — may attend the means of grace regularly, and seriously — and may perform many religious duties. An unconverted person may pray daily, both in private and in the family, reading the Word of God, and singing hymns or psalms. An unconverted person may be moral, amiable, and very useful in society. Indeed it is almost impossible to say, who are converted and who are not, in many cases, by the outward conduct merely. All depends on the state of the heart.
The work of the Holy Spirit alone, makes one man to differ from another in this respect. Without regeneration, there is no living faith, and "without faith it is impossible to please God." For man by nature is carnal — and as the heart is, so is everything that proceeds from it. "The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
What is the state of the unconverted?
They are in a state of misery. They do not enjoy the favor of God, nor taste the sweetness of his blessing. Have what they may, they are never satisfied, for their immortal nature is always craving for something higher and better.
They are in a state of unrest, "like the troubled sea, whose waters cast up mire and dirt."
They are in a state of danger, being condemned already, and the wrath of God abiding on them. At any moment, by any accident — they may suddenly be cast into Hell, "where their worm never dies, and the fire is not quenched." They are never safe, at any time, or in any place; for as there is but a step between them and death — so there is but a step between them and Hell.
They are in a state of death, being "dead in trespasses and sins." Not having the Spirit, they are in a state of spiritual death; and not having the image of God, which distinguishes all his children, they are in danger of eternal death. What a lamentable condition to be in! What a fearfully dangerous state!
Not only so — but the unconverted are alienated from God. They know him not. They love him not. They serve him not. For though they may do many things which he has commanded — they do not do them out of love to him, or from a desire to please him.
They are in opposition to God.
They object to his sovereignty.
They hate his holiness.
They dislike his justice.
They slight his mercy.
They despise his grace.
Gladly would they get from under his dominion, if they could.
Gladly would they avoid his presence, if they could.
Gladly would they be superior to him, if they could.
Though they will not admit the charge — yet every unconverted person, must be placed among those whom the apostle designates, "haters of God."
They are therefore criminals before God. Charged with breaking his laws — with refusing a pardon — with murdering his Son — and with hating his prerogatives and perfections — how can they be otherwise than criminal.
O how fearful a state to be in! O what dreadful charges to be brought against an intelligent, accountable, and immortal being! Yet, God brings these charges against all unconverted people in his Word. They are alienated from God, enemies to God, and criminals before God!
What is the state of God's heart towards the unconverted? "As I live, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, therefore turn and live!" He does not wish, or desire, that any should perish — but that all should come to repentance. God is love, and he "so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish — but have everlasting life." Out of pure love, God has provided a Savior; that Savior has made an infinite atonement for sin, and on the ground of that atonement, God presents a pardon to all who hear his Word. He sends the gospel, which is glad tidings of great joy to all people, and that gospel proclaims that whoever believes in Jesus, shall be pardoned, justified, and saved with an everlasting salvation. None are exempt, for it is to be preached to every creature. There are no exceptions, for Jesus has said,"Him that comes unto me, I will in never out."
Nor is this all, for we are expressly told that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation." "Now then," said the apostle, "we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we beg you in Christ's stead — be reconciled to God." What a heart of love, the heart of God must be — to testify that he has no delight in our death; to give his only begotten Son, that we might live through him; and by his servants to beseech us to be reconciled unto him.
What then is the duty of the unconverted? Surely it is every one's duty to believe God's Word. To believe that he sincerely desires our welfare, is willing to forgive our sins, and to save us through his beloved Son. Has he not given us every proof of his love, of his pity, of his sincerity, which he can give? Ought he not then to be believed with a faith which will affect the heart, and change the conduct? Can we do otherwise than give credit to his Word, and act upon it? Must we not either believe God — or make him a liar?
Every unconverted person ought to be sorry for his sins. His sins have dishonored God's majesty, grieved God's heart, and occasioned the death of his beloved Son. Nothing touches God so acutely as our sins. If we have grieved God — ought we not to grieve? If we have by our conduct, occasioned the dreadful suffering, and shameful death of his beloved Son — ought we not to be sorry? Yes, we should so change our minds in reference to these subjects, as to be heartily sorry; and we should so sorrow, as to change our conduct towards the ever-blessed God, and his beloved Son.
In one word, it is the duty of every unconverted person to be reconciled to God. He wishes it. He asks it of us. Our present happiness, and our eternal salvation depend on it. We cannot be saved in opposition to God. We cannot be saved as the enemies of God. We cannot be saved in our sins, we must be saved from them. Every sinner should admit his sinfulness, confess his sins before God, accept of the Lord Jesus Christ to be his Savior, trust in the atoning blood, and through faith in it become the friend of God.
Reader, how is it with you? Are you converted — or unconverted? Is the matter settled? Settled on a sure basis? Settled beyond the possibility of mistake? Have you the witness of the Spirit in yourself? Do you know that your thoughts of God, and your feelings towards God? Have undergone a thorough and permanent change? Be not satisfied with slight evidences. Make sure work of it. If you have not made the surrender of the heart, the life, the property, the all, to God — make it now. If there is any doubt about it — make it anew.
No state is so fearful as an unconverted state — and yet many who hear the gospel are in it. Nothing can be worse, than to be near the ark — and yet not in the ark. To be not far from the kingdom of God — and yet never to enter it. To hear continually of the great sacrifice for sin, and the proclamation of a free pardon of sin — and yet to die in our sins. Let not the god of this world, blind your minds; let not religious duties benumb, or stupify your conscience; let nothing lull you to sleep, without a change of heart; for if you do, when you awake up and discover your mistake, it will be dreadful. Dreadful, because too late to rectify it! Dreadful, because it was entirely your own fault! Dreadful, because you will be without excuse!
Unconverted man — you know you have never experienced a change of heart. Hear the words of Jesus, "Except you are converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven." You know you have not been created anew in Christ Jesus, and therefore to you the Savior says, "Truly, truly, I say unto you, unless a man is born again — he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Unless you are brought to find favor with God — unless you receive the impression of the image of God — you cannot enter Heaven, or see the face of God with joy. For by grace, or favor, we are saved, through faith; and without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.
To you therefore, as Paul to the unconverted Jews, I say, in conclusion, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord:" for "God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning every one of you from his iniquities." Acts 3:19, 20