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Who are the Reprobates

Introduction: I have heard much of my life of the danger of sinning away our day of grace. This idea is that the Holy Spirit will only work in our hearts for so long, but at some time will cease and we are at that time, even if still alive, condemned to hell. Is it a Bible teaching? Is it possible that there are people among us who could never get saved?

    1. A Two-Sided Sword
      1. The work of the Holy Ghost
        1. To convict a man and draw him to Christ (John 16:8-11)
        2. To testify of the Son (John 15:26) and glorify Him (John 16:14)
      2. The need of fallen man
        1. The natural man (lost man) cannot understand spiritual things without the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13-14).
        2. Jesus states in John 6:44, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."
      3. The supply of the gracious Saviour Jesus says of His crucifixion, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32). So, we see that Jesus draws all men to Himself through His death on the cross.
    2. The Spirit Who No Longer Strives
      1. Do some men reach a time when the Spirit will no longer draw them? Genesis 6:3 states, "And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years."
      2. We need to understand the context.
        1. This refers to the time before the flood.
        2. The verse says that man has another 120 years before he will be cut off.
        3. What happened then? The answer is that the flood came and killed all the people who were not in the ark.
        4. So, what was the point at which the Spirit ceased to strive with man? It was at the time of his death. That does not support the idea of which we speak.
    3. Resisting of the Holy Ghost
      1. Practical experience supports the idea that conviction is not always working the same way in a man and that there may be times when the conviction and therefore the drawing of the Spirit is so absent that there seems to be no readiness to be saved or any interest in the matter.
      2. But man can continue to resist the working of the Spirit to the very end. Stephen told the Jewish council, "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye" (Acts 7:51). Yet, if they were resisting Him, was He not still convicting them? There is no need to resist that which has no draw of any sort upon you. Therefore, the Holy Spirit was continuing to convict these Jews even though they constantly and continually resisted Him.
    4. The Deadline God Emphasizes
      1. Therefore, to say that some men sin away their day of grace may be creating a doctrine not found in the Bible.
      2. At the time of the flood, the time that the Spirit no longer strove with man was the time that God took them away in death and judgment.
      3. The deadline clearly defined by the Bible is death. Hebrews 9:27 states, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." God states that death is the deadline that when crossed leads to certain judgment.
      4. On the other hand, the Bible refers specifically to God's patience in giving men time to repent. He is "longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
    5. The Spirit of the Grace Age Witness
      1. The best policy is to consider every man a potential resident of heaven until death makes his destiny certain in one place or the other.
      2. Perhaps, even if the Spirit has ceased to deal with a soul because of that person's resistance--perhaps He would deal with them again because we plead with Him for the sake of that soul. God is one who "will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). That means that His desired will for all men is that they might be saved. That is why He sent His Son to die and pay for their sins.
      3. According to Romans 2:4, it is the goodness of God as seen in His forbearance and longsuffering that leads man to repentance. We should never sell this forbearance short. Neither should we ever count a soul down that is not out.
    1. Two Theological Uses of the Term
      1. According to most accepted theology, a reprobate is one who is condemned to eternal punishment because he is not one of the elect. John Calvin, in his "Institutes of the Christian Religion" (3.23.1) stated: "God is said to set apart those whom he adopts into salvation; it will be highly absurd to say that others acquire by chance or obtain by their own effort what election alone confers on a few. Therefore, those whom God passes over, he condemns; and this he does for no other reason than that he wills to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his own children." This is a doctrine that I reject as unscriptural.
      2. A second teaching concerning reprobates is the teaching that reprobates are those who have been condemned to hell by the decision of God to no longer allow His Spirit to convict them.
    2. Biblical Use of the Term
      1. Reprobate (or reprobates) is used seven times in the Bible: Jeremiah 6:30; Romans 1:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5, 6, 7; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16.
      2. It is related to the word reprove. However, reprove is based on the word prove, which means to test. Reprobates then would be those who have been put to the test and are found wanting and so are reproved.
      3. In Jeremiah 6:30, men are said to be like reprobate silver because they are rejected. We can see the picture of silver being tested and discovered to be false. Therefore, it is rejected. The reprobate silver seemed to be silver. It was only after it was tested that it was found to be counterfeit and rejected.
      4. Paul told the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if they were truly in the faith. He told them, "prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Corinthians 13:5). Notice the key word, prove. They were to prove or test themselves. If they were not truly in Christ, then they would be reproved--because they were reprobates. A reprobate is one who have been tested (proved) and found lacking; so he is reproved or rejected as a true believer. It must follow that a reprobate claims to be a true follower of God and yet is found false when put to the test.
      5. Titus 1:16 states, "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." These men profess to know God but in their works they deny Him. They fail to pass the test of genuine faith. This does not apply to those who have "sinned away their day of grace."
    3. Those Who Are Given Up (Romans 1:21-28)
      1. This passage could lead many to believe in a rejection by God that includes certain judgment in hell. However, their rejection by God can be partial now and is not complete until someone dies lost.
        1. In Lamentations 5:22, Jeremiah could say, "But thou hast utterly rejected us; thou art very wroth against us."
        2. Yet, in the same book he could proclaim, "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not" (Lamentations 3:22).
        3. Utter rejection was not eternal rejection. They were completely rejected in one sense, but God would still show mercies to them.
      2. Romans, chapter one, deals with a group of people who have turned away from the Lord.
        1. These people "changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things" (Romans 1:23).
        2. Because of their wickedness, God turned against them. Three times in the chapter we read that God gave them up in one way or another.
          1. First, God "gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts" (Romans 1:24).
          2. Second, "God gave them up unto vile affections" (Romans 1:26).
          3. Third, we read, "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient" (Romans 1:28).
      3. The subject of these three rejections
        1. The first giving up had to do with their hearts.
        2. The second had to do with with their affections or desires.
        3. The third had to do with their minds. He did this because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge. They had God in their knowledge but did not like to retain Him. But they had changed the glory of God into an image and the truth of God into a lie. They started out with the true God and the truth of God but left it all in order to follow their own lusts. As a result, God gave them up to do those things which were not convenient. He gave them over to the practice and the fruits of their lusts.
      4. These men were turned over to their lusts without the restraining hand of God.
        1. Even the lost are kept from going to the depths their minds can conceive by the gracious restraining of God.
        2. However, these people fought Him so much that He gave them over to whatever wickedness their minds could imagine to do.
        3. One of the dangers to the human race is that "now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do" (Genesis 11:6). It is only God's grace that keeps man from going as far down as he is capable of going.
      5. These men have lost this gracious restraint. God has given them up to their uncleanness and to their vile affections. He has given them over to their reprobate mind. What is this? It is a mind that has been tested and found wanting. It is a mind that is reproved because of its wickedness. And now, this same mind will take them as far as it wants to go. What a terrible fate!

Conclusion: Yet, does God say that this person can from this point never be saved? No. He never states this as a fact or teaches it as a precept. In fact, we have evidence to the contrary.

  • What is mentioned as the ultimate sin of those who have been given up? It is the sin of sodomy. This is the sin that is clearly defined in Romans 1:26-27. It is evidently the lowest depths of this reprobate mind because it is even against the natural state of the lost man. Then, evidently, those who sink into this sin have been given over to their reprobate mind.
  • But can they never be saved? Of course, they can be saved. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul defines different categories of the unrighteous. Among those he includes the "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind." This is a definite reference to sodomites. Then, in the next verse, he states, "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11). Some of these sodomites had gotten saved and had left their sin behind them.
  • Those with a reprobate mind (one that had failed the test and had been reproved) were still able to get saved. Praise the Lord! He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him (Hebrews 7:25). We just need to keep praying for them and telling them about the Saviour.