What is the purpose of unbelievers?

What is the purpose of unbelievers?

Thankfully, there are several clear answers to this intriguing question, though, as one might expect, those answers directly confront and agitate the man-centered way of measuring reality that we, as people, tend to prefer.

We want to believe that God’s plans center on us, we want to believe that the measure of His success or failure is determined by us, and we like to imagine that we are the masters of our own destiny.

All of which is a truckload of garbage, of course, but a truckload of garbage that sells very well in an age still (temporarily) dominated by unrepentant, self-referential men, women, boys, and girls.

So what is the purpose of unbelievers then?

While we’re not going to dive into a comprehensive examination of that subject here, we’re gonna take a moment to touch on two clear answers provided in God’s perfect Word:

  1. One purpose of unbelievers is their usefulness in highlighting (often by juxtaposition) the loving grace of God upon His people. We see this purpose made plain in Romans 9, where in verses 22 and 23 we read: “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory”.
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    The “in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy” part there says it all. That is purposea purpose that is not the least little bit contingent upon the repentance or eternal happiness of the “vessel of wrath” in question, it should be noted.
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  2. Another purpose of unbelievers is their usefulness in building things that benefit the people and Kingdom of God. This theme of purpose permeates Scripture. Again and again the Word makes plain that God’s people will inherit and benefit from work done and things built by unbelievers. Deuteronomy 6:10-11 presents one of many Old Testament references to this concept when it proclaims:
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    “And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant . . . ”
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    The Word also makes plain that “the wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22) and that God uses all things to benefit His people (Romans 8:28).
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    So whether we’re talking about Old Testament Israel benefitting from the occupation and use of cities that were built by pagans, or by contemporary Israel (Christians) benefitting from the use of technologies spearheaded by unbelievers, we see the same principle at work in God’s creations of time and space. His chosen Bride, the apple of His eye, will inherit and benefit from the work and creativity of unbelievers.
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    God has and will continue to use unbelievers to benefit His people and advance His Kingdom through the creative use of their God-given talents. Said unbelievers may have no such thing in mind when they create the next iPhone or invent the next breakthrough medical procedure, but that matters not.

Every person in God’s creation is God’s property to do with as He sees fit according to His purposes on His schedule and for His glory. In this context unbelievers – even as unbelievers – are purposeful and will be used perfectly by God to advance His Kingdom and benefit His people.

The question of purpose doesn’t center on us.

It doesn’t center on our happiness.

It doesn’t center on our eternity.

Never has.

Never will.

The question of our purpose doesn’t center on us at all.

It centers on Him.

The sooner we understand, appreciate, and embrace that beautiful, liberating, and inspiring truth, the better off we (and our culture) will be.


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2 COMMENTS

  1. All people, believers or not, are made in the in image and likeness of God. All of us have a purpose in God's kingdom. Jesus desires that all people come to know Him as their Savior. My church and denomination believe that the Holy Bible commands us to introduce non-Christians to the transforming love of Jesus Christ. Vilifying them as pagans doesn't support that.

    • Scripture is the standard for understanding and properly applying categories, Sue.

      Unbelievers and various subcategories of the same (like false converts) are addressed in detail again and again in the Word of God. If we truly love people (over and above our comfort), we will share the hardest of truths with them so that they might, by God's grace, repent, believe, and be saved.

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