Are some never to be forgiven?

Hi Greg

My wife and I are newly born again and often read the bible together before bed. We live in the deep countryside and the closest church is one that we won’t join because of their very liberal use of Gods word. So we study the bible on our own. It’s our second time thru and there’s always new gems and also now things to figure out. Can you please explain what Jesus means in Mark 4:12 Does this mean that some people are never forgiven or can’t be forgiven or at this particular time Jesus doesn’t want to forgive them? I know that Jesus offers love to all and then forgiveness to those that repent and have faith. Could you please offer your explanation. Thanks in advance. Alan and Olga


@Alweiche Great question :slight_smile: Did you mean to post this question for Greg Koukl? If so, go into the thread below and put the question in that thread.

The short answers is that all people can be forgiven. In Mark 4:12, Jesus is quoting an OT passage denouncing those who have already rejected God in their hearts. Everyone has the chance to be saved, but not all have the ears to hear because some people have already hardened their own hearts.

When Jesus talks about the affect of parables on their hearers, he is quoting Isaiah 6. It sounds very harsh, but there are two things to note.

  1. God has already said in Isaiah 1 that the Israelites have rejected Him of their own will - they have chosen the darkness
  2. Isaiah says ‘How long O Lord?’ - God will preserve a remnant of faithful people for Himself

Isaiah 1:3-4 - The ox knows its master,
the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”

4 Woe to the sinful nation,
a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.

Isaiah 6:9-11 - He said, “Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

11 Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”

George MacDonald

MacDonald makes a great point - parables are understandable to those with a pure and honest heart. A person whose heart is not right with God, no matter how intelligent, will only be hardened by them and incapable of perceiving their intent through action no matter how intelligent.

"This will help to remove the difficulty that the parables are plainly for the teaching of the truth, and yet the Lord speaks of them as for the concealing of it. They are for the understanding of that man only who is practical–who does the thing he knows, who seeks to understand vitally. They reveal to the live conscience, otherwise not to the keenest intellect –though at the same time they may help to rouse the conscience with glimpses of the truth, where the man is on the borders of waking. Ignorance may be at once a punishment and a kindness: all punishment is kindness, and the best of which the man at the time is capable: ‘ Because you will not do, you shall not see ; but it would be worse for you if you did see, not being of the disposition to do.’ Such are punished in having the way closed before them; they punish themselves; their own doing results as it cannot but result on them. To say to them certain things so that they could understand them, would but harden them more, because they would not do them; they should have but parables–lanterns of the truth, clear to those who will walk in their light, dark to those who will not . The former are content to have the light cast upon their way; the latter will have it in their eyes, and cannot: if they had, it would but blind them. For them to know more would be their worse condemnation. They are not fit to know more; more shall not be given them yet; it is their punishment that they are in the wrong, and shall keep in the wrong until they come out of it. ‘You choose the dark; you shall stay in the dark till the terrors that dwell in the dark affray you, and cause you to cry out.’ God puts a seal upon the will of man; that seal is either his great punishment, or his mighty favour: ‘Ye love the darkness, abide in the darkness:’ ‘O woman, great is thy faith: be it done unto thee even as thou wilt!’


@SeanO - great MacDonald quote - thank you!

1 Like

@jlyons Indeed - I found it most insightful as well :slight_smile:

This question has puzzled me often before. Thank you for that quote from George MacDonald. I have never heard anything like that before and it is very helpful! :blush:

1 Like

Thank you very much!

1 Like