The Unforgiveable Sin of Unbelief?
If a judge factually told a prisoner that the law demanded that no matter what he did he would never get out of jail for the one crime that condemned him, what good would it do the prisoner to believe that that crime could be erased?
It is commonly said that believing that Jesus Christ is one's personal savior is what causes a sinner to become regenerate and acquire eternal life but unbelief that Jesus is one's personal savior is the one sin that God won't forgive. Now if a sin be unforgiveable, it is never forgiven (unless we abandon common sense and meanings of words). Thus, if a person is unregenerate and does not believe Jesus is his personal savior, he must always bear the guilt of that unforgiveable sin. No matter what the unregenerate person therefore does, or presumes to correct by belief, he has an unremoveable spot on his record since unbelief that Jesus is his personal savior is a sin God won't forgive. Since he still has that one sin to answer for, whether he becomes regenerate or not when he believes is irrelevant: he will still be condemned on Judgement Day for a single unforgiven sin (see James 2:10). Therefore (if the premise of acquiring regeneration by belief is true), no regenerate person has any real hope of eternal life in the holy God's presence. Clearly, there is something terribly flawed in the “unbelief is the unforgiveable sin” theory.
Furthermore, the unregenerate man who does not believe that Jesus is his personal savior is in full compliance with what the Bible says about him: Jesus is not the savior of unregenerate men. He is acknowledging the truth about himself. He is no less compliant with the Bible than a regenerate man who believes Jesus is his personal savior. He would be quite correct in declaring, “I believe that Jesus is not my savior.” Yet, according to the common theory about acquiring regeneration, he is in a greater condemnation than the regenerate man who still has the unforgiveable sin of unbelief to answer for. But how can this be: will not both ultimately be condemned on Judgement Day since both have the spot of an unforgiveable sin?
The problem with the common theory of how sinners are saved from death unto life is that it has a proposition becoming true upon belief of it while it is not true. The unsaved man to whom Jesus IS NOT savior must believe Jesus IS his savior in order to MAKE Him such. To illustrate the error, let's look at it from the opposite side. Scripture teaches that Adam's sin caused all men to be sinners under a sentence of death (ROM 5:12). Someone who is ignorant of this fact is not exempt from it, nor would his belief or unbelief of this fact change the fact. When a sinner is told of his Adamic nature, his rejection of that information would change nothing: Adam was his sin-giver and he has Adam's sin nature. But neither would his belief of it change anything: his belief did not MAKE Adam his sin-giver nor suddenly MAKE him have Adam's sin nature. Adam condemned all his posterity, whether they believe it or not.
Scripture never calls upon a man to believe on Jesus Christ as his personal savior, and it certainly does not imply that doing so then MAKES Jesus his personal savior. Belief is a subjective experience: what one believes does not make it so (one may think himself to be something when he is nothing, GAL 6:3). Scripture rather calls upon men to believe the facts about Jesus Christ: that He is the sinless, virgin-born Son of God Who died for sinners and rose from the dead. Facts are objective realities. Belief or unbelief of those realities does nothing to change those realities. Making a reality conditioned upon one's belief is obviously a flawed theory. Scripture declares that Jesus Christ is coming back with the souls of dead saints, a fact not altered by man's belief or unbelief. The Apostle Paul's wording on this reality is noteworthy: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1TH 4:14). Does any reasonable man therefore conclude that if we DON'T believe Jesus died and rose again that He will be blocked from returning in the said manner with his saints? If God (Who is absolutely trustworthy) told a blind man that a rainbow appears in the sky after a rain as a token of God's covenant with all flesh (GEN 9:16-17), the blind man's belief or unbelief of what he cannot confirm with his senses neither MAKES nor UNDOES the rainbow or that covenant. So it is with God's declaration of His Son and His Son's covenant work of salvation (HEB 13:20; HEB 1:3; HEB 10:14).
"Believing that Jesus Christ is one's personal savior does have value to the regenerate child of God in that it gives him peace of mind, but strictly speaking, the promise of salvation is not to the man who thinks he is saved. One might believe Jesus is his personal savior yet deny that Jesus is the Son of God or that He rose bodily from the dead. Even those who hold to the theory that belief causes regeneration and everlasting life would likely conclude that such a person has a delusional confidence in his own salvation. Rather, the blessed promise is, '...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' (JOH 5:24)." (David Pyles, Reformaphobia, paraphrased, boldface added). JOH 5:24 does not set forth a formula for acquiring regeneration and everlasting life; it is declaring that the person who hears and believes in the present is someone who HAS everlasting life and IS (HAS) passed from death unto life. It reasons from the effect (hearing, believing) back to the cause (passing from death unto life). If one simply accepts the words and grammar as stated, belief is not what causes everlasting life; it is the evidence of the everlasting life which preceded the belief (and is necessary for belief). Since everlasting life causes the belief, belief CANNOT cause everlasting life. No effect can be greater than its cause, precede its cause, nor cause its cause. The effect cannot be the cause anymore than the creature's recognition of his own existence makes him the Creator. But making belief the effect of everlasting life rather than the cause clears away all the cobwebs and contradictions.
If unbelief is an unforgiveable sin, then it cannot be forgiven. Is unbelief an unforgiveable sin? We dare not so conclude, for all have been guilty of unbelief. Is belief what causes one to pass from death unto life? Impossible. Carnal man is so depraved and at enmity with God that believing the truth about Jesus Christ is the most impossible thing imaginable to him (ROM 8:7-8; 1CO 1:18; 1CO 2:14). To make one's belief (an effect of new life) into the means to acquire new life makes as much sense as telling a blind man that he can have sight if he reads the directions on the page, or telling a corpse that he can have life if he will simply get out of the tomb.