In Ezekiel 18, the Lord corrects the Israelites in Babylon, who were complaining that they were being punished for their ancestors' sins. "Not so!, says the Lord, and He lays out how He deals with people:
The Lord does not punish a God-fearing man. 18:5-9
The Lord will punish a righteous man's sinning son. 18:10-13
The Lord does not punish a righteous son for the sins of a wicked father. 18:14-18
Everyone stand sor falls on their own. 18:19-20
But then...! If a bad man repents, then the Lord relents from punishing, and blesses instead! The same rule applies to nations (see Jeremiah 18:1-4). A great example of this, Nineveh, is found in Jonah 3:10.
The Lord ends His instructions with these words: "Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord. The Lord answers His own question: "I have no pleasure in the death of the one who dies," says the Lord God. The Lord appeals to a human being's natural desire to live (18:31-32), as the reason to repent. The Lord never appeals to "godly" motives as reasons for repenting, that is, motives that only born-again people feel. He appeals to motives that the natural man feels, even absent the Spirit dwelling in his or her heart.
This is the true God. There is hope for everyone, because God does not want to condemn anyone. He is forced to condemn human sin, so to speak, because of His own righteousness, but God does so reluctantly. He certainly does not ultimately cause anyone to sin, for then He would be causing that which He says He very much does not want to do -- which would be schizophrenic for God.
As long as someone draws breath, there is hope that they can be saved! The Lord wants it to be so, and He makes it possible. Don't give up on your unbelieving friends and family!
Jack is the teaching elder of Ironworks Pike Community Church. He is a graduate of Columbia Biblical Seminary http://www.ciu.edu.