Select Page

Responding to Non-Believers

written by Yoni Koski
July 19, 2019

How should we understand and relate to those who do not yet believe? Is salvation a black and white thing – before I knew Yeshua I was evil and now I am good? ‘Yes’ and ‘no’! Yes, of course we were ‘once darkness’, but now we are ‘light in the Lord’ (Ephesians 5:8)

In Acts 10, however, we read of a Roman centurion, Cornelius, who was, “devout and God-fearing… gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly”. We learn this in the first verses of the chapter, but it is only later that his family believes in Yeshua and is baptized. This is not the pattern of evil behaviour suddenly becoming good. How can this be, unless the Holy Spirit is active in peoples’ lives before new birth?


Common grace, also known by theologians as ‘prevenient’ grace, is that unmerited generosity of God active in people before they are saved. It is ‘common’ because it is available to everyone. Some of this God activity takes the form of conscience, although our consciences can be refused, subdued, or become twisted. Many non-believers of course do sometimes behave in an evil way, as of course so do we believers until we are fully sanctified.

We also see God’s common grace active in the many myths and legends of ancient cultures that point tribal peoples towards God even before they hear the gospel message – especially in the form of legendary ‘Messiah’ figures who die on a tree and so save their people somehow. It seems that God placed within the culture itself such ‘hooks’ which enable people to respond to the Gospel when they hear it.

Why do so many Muslim people receive and respond to dreams of Yeshua, even long before they are saved?

Similarly, why did the sea captain in the boat in the storm with Jonah implore him to pray to his Hebrew God? Because the sailors were receiving revelation as to the powerlessness of their own gods and the potency of Jonah’s God. Later in the chapter they demonstrate the fear of the Lord.

So, understanding common grace:

  1. Shows us that non-believers are not held at point zero in revelation of God until the point of salvation, but rather accumulate revelation and experience of Him along the way, and are presented with choices to respond. Understanding this helps us to have a higher view of those who are not yet saved and enables us to evangelise in a less patronising and more appropriate manner.
  2. Helps us avoid being proud by comparing ourselves wrongly with others, especially non-believers.
  3. Gives us a higher view of newly saved people and helps us in the discipling process.
  4. Helps us avoid a confused ‘spiritual’ / ‘unspiritual’, or ‘secular’ / ‘sacred’ distinction.
  5. Helps us Jews understand that God is also active in the Gentile world.
  6. Helps the Christian Church understand that God has a plan and purpose for Israel.
  7. Help us all understand the work of God in all creation.
Yoni Koski


Subscribe to our weekly updates! We offer articles by trusted Messianic authors, a Global Broadcast featuring worship music by our talented musicians and a teaching by Asher Intrater,  Ariel Blumenthal,  and others.


How I Came to Faith

I was born in Israel into a secular Jewish family with roots in the Land stretching back generations. My great grandfather was a pioneer farmer in the Galilee. My father was a commander in the Palmach naval fighting units, starting before the Israeli War of...

read more

Surprising Psalms

Beginnings are important. They are foundational. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit was poured out on Shavuot/Pentecost and the church was born. Over the next 2.5 chapters, the disciples (mostly Peter) proclaim the Gospel, several times, to all the Jewish people gathered in...

read more

Anchor in the Storm

We find ourselves in a time of isolation and ruptured routine. The world health crisis has affected every one of us. Consequently, something at the core of my being is searching for solid ground. Life’s circumstances have changed radically, in a way that threatens my...

read more