Why do some people repent and have faith (believe in Christ) and others do not?
Does the Bible answer this question? Yes, it does. Very clearly. It's just that many people don't believe what it says.
Why is it that some people do not have faith (believe) in Christ?
Jesus said to the Pharisees "BUT YE BELIEVE NOT, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT OF MY SHEEP, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."
Please notice it does not say "you are not My sheep because you do not believe", as if by believing they would become His sheep, but rather THE REASON THEY DO NOT BELIEVE IS BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT HIS SHEEP.
Jesus calls His people His sheep even before they hear His voice. John 10:16. "And other sheep I HAVE, which are not of this fold: them also I MUST BRING, and THEY SHALL HEAR MY VOICE; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd."
Likewise in John chapter 8 where the Lord Jesus is speaking to some religious Pharisees he tells them that they are of their father the devil (8:44) and he further states: "And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. He asks them: "And if I say the truth, WHY do ye not believe me?" Then he tells them why they do not believe - "He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, BECAUSE YE ARE NOT OF GOD."
Again, notice that he does not say "If you would hear my words then you would become of God", but rather the very reason they could not hear the words of God is BECAUSE they are not of God.
Another reason given in Scripture why SOME CANNOT BELIEVE is because God blinds their eyes and hardens their hearts.
John 12:37-40 "But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him; That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore THEY COULD NOT BELIEVE, BECAUSE that Esaias said again, HE (God) HATH BLINDED THEIR EYES, AND HARDENED THEIR HEART; THAT THEY SHOULD NOT SEE with their eyes, NOR UNDERSTAND with their heart, AND BE CONVERTED, and I should heal them."
One of the most common responses I get from the "free willers" when I ask them WHY do some people have faith and others do not, is for them to cite Romans 10:17 - "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Yet this is NOT answering the question as to WHY some believe and others do not.
This verse tells us HOW they came to believe, but it does not tell us WHY they believe or WHY they have faith.
And if we follow the logic of their thinking, then it follows that ANYBODY who simply hears the word of God preached automatically has faith; and we all know this is not true at all.
And Who is it that opens the ears so that some CAN hear, and Who also closes the ears of others so that they CANNOT hear?
See more on Romans 10:17 in my separate article on this verse here -
Does God appoint certain men to unbelief?
Yes, Scripture says that He does. In 1 Peter 2:7-9 we read: "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to THEM WHICH STUMBLE AT THE WORD, BEING DISOBEDIENT; WHEREUNTO ALSO THEY WERE APPOINTED, BUT YE ARE A CHOSEN GENERATION, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light."
GOD closes the eyes and ears of the non-elect.
"What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but THE ELECTION hath obtained it, AND THE REST WERE BLINDED. (According as it is written, GOD HATH GIVEN THEM THE SPIRIT OF SLUMBER, EYES THAT THEY SHOULD NOT SEE, AND EARS THAT THEY SHOULD NOT HEAR;) unto this day." Romans 11:7-8
Why is it that some people have faith (believe) in Christ?
The reason true Christians believe the gospel is because God Himself gives us the faith to believe the gospel.
"Looking unto Jesus THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH" - Hebrews 12:2.
Who authored our faith? JESUS did. That is why in the King James Bible it speaks so many times about how we are justified "by THE FAITH OF CHRIST". If we are a true Christian, born of God and not of the will of the flesh, it is because HE did it and then gave us the faith to believe in what He had already done for us at the cross of Calvary.
That is why it is called "THE FAITH OF GOD'S ELECT" - Titus 1:1
Romans 12:3 "For I say, through the grace given unto me, TO EVERY MAN THAT IS AMONG YOU, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as GOD HATH DEALT TO EVERY MAN THE MEASURE OF FAITH."
The "every man" in the context is the "every man among you" or those who are already Christians. That is whom the apostle Paul was writing to. "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints....I thank God through Jesus Christ for YOU ALL, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world." Romans 1:7-8
Not everyone has faith. 2 Thessalonians 3:2 "for all men have not faith" and obviously there are unbelievers.
If you think you got this faith to believe all on your own, then you are guilty of the very thing Paul cautions us against. You are thinking of yourself more highly than you ought to think.
Philippians 1:29 "For UNTO YOU IT IS GIVEN in the behalf of Christ, not only TO BELIEVE ON HIM, but also to suffer for his sake."
Did you get that? If you are among those who believe the gospel, it is because IT WAS GIVEN TO YOU TO BELIEVE ON HIM. Words can't be much clearer than this.
Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD."
As a side note, some argue that the gift is not faith, and I actually agree with them on this. The word "that" in "and that not of yourselves" is the neuter singular demonstrative pronoun - touto. It cannot refer specifically to faith, which is feminine, nor to grace, which also is feminine, and certainly not to "ye are saved" because this is a verb (a masculine participle) and not a noun, and pronouns do not refer back to verbs but only other nouns.
Rather the word "that" refers back to the whole idea encompassed by the phrase "by grace ye are saved through faith" and THAT not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Saving faith is included in this grace that is given to God's elect people.
I Corinthians 3:5-7 KJB "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom YE BELIEVED, EVEN AS THE LORD GAVE TO EVERY MAN? I have planted, Apollos watered, BUT GOD GAVE THE INCREASE. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, BUT GOD THAT GIVETH THE INCREASE."
This carnal church of believers was in danger of splitting apart at the seams because they had their focus on different great teachers instead of seeing Christ as the source of their salvation and author of their faith.
It is the Lord Himself who gives the gift of faith to His own people. This is clearly what the verse teaches and is confirmed by the very next verse: "I have planted, Apollos watered; BUT GOD GAVE THE INCREASE."
Man can sow the word of truth and another can come along and water it with more teaching, but unless God quickens it and produces life, it is all in vain.
"And the apostles said unto the Lord, INCREASE OUR FAITH." Luke 17:4
Repentance is also a gift of God
Just as God Himself gives us the faith to believe the gospel, so too He gives Repentance.
In Acts 5:31 the apostle Peter says in his preaching: "Him (Christ) hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, FOR TO GIVE REPENTANCE to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."
("For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel...but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." - Romans 9:6-8)
Again, in Acts 11:18 when Peter is before the brethren in Jerusalem telling them how God had sent him to preach to the Gentiles the gospel of the grace of God and how God had given them the Holy Ghost just as He had to the Jewish believers, we read: "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, THEN HATH GOD ALSO to the Gentiles GRANTED REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE."
In 2 Timothy 2:24-25 the apostle Paul writes to Timothy telling him how to deal with those who hold false doctrines. He tells him: "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; IF GOD PERADVENTURE WILL GIVE THEM REPENTANCE to the acknowledging of the truth."
The same truth is taught in the Old Testament. In the book of Jeremiah we read: "Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke; TURN THOU ME, AND I SHALL BE TURNED; for thou art the LORD my God. Surely AFTER I WAS TURNED, I REPENTED." Jeremiah 31:18-19.
Lamentations 5:21 "TURN THOU US UNTO THEE, O LORD, AND WE SHALL BE TURNED; renew our days as of old."
It is recorded in 1 Kings when the prophet Elijah was contending with the false prophets of Baal and telling the people of Israel - "How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." In his prayer to the Lord God Elijah then says: Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and THAT THOU HAST TURNED THEIR HEART BACK AGAIN." 1 Kings 18:37