The Biggest Obstacle to Faith in Christ the Savior

Amid the rampant unbelief in the world, one often hears people putting up roadblocks and obstacles by describing that which keeps them from believing the good news of reconciliation with the Creator through Jesus Christ.  The most common objections verbalized tend to be along the lines that evidence is lacking for God, for the integrity and truth of the Bible, that the morality revealed in Scripture is outdated, or that the Bible’s record on such things as creation is contradicted by modern science.   But as we know from human experience, things are not always as they appear when it comes to people saying why they do not accept something.  People are prone to not indicate the real obstacle that prevents them from coming to Christ.

Would it surprise you to know that the biggest obstacle to people’s acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ today is not a lack of evidence, but self-righteous pride?  The Bible humbles the pride of man.  It describes him not as righteous, but as ungodly, unholy, evil, undesirable, and unworthy of any consideration or favor from the Creator.  According to the Scriptures, the good news is that God has offered eternal blessing in Christ to those who only deserve His eternal curse and punishment in hell forever.

Romans 3

10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

15 Their feet are swift to shed blood:

16 Destruction and misery are in their ways:

17 And the way of peace have they not known:

18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

People just cannot accept the picture that God paints of them in Scripture.  They are offended by what He says about them in His word: that they are vile, corrupt, and worthy only to be cast into hell forever.  That is the biggest obstacle that the average person has to receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  It is pride.  It is an unwillingness to accept that they are as worthless as God says they are.  For it is only those who recognize their need as sinners, and their utter inability to help themselves or to do anything pleasing to the Creator, which makes them ready to receive the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ the Savior.  The world’s biggest obstacle to receiving the gospel is not a lack of evidence for God or the Bible; It is the pride of humans who think they are good people.


Old South Church, Boston

Ebenezer Pemberton, a Congregational minister who served as the pastor of the Old South Church, Boston from 1700-1717, puts it this way,

“The freedom and riches of divine grace to the greatest of sinners is an essential part of the glory that is displayed in the gospel.  But we are naturally slow of heart to believe; a self-righteous spirit appears in a variety of forms to obstruct our approaches to God through Jesus Christ*.”

Thanks be to God that for those of us who have embraced Christ when we heard the gospel, the Lord subdued our self-righteous pride and stubborn will, informing us of our miserable condition, making us willing and able to receive Him as He was offered to us as Savior.

*Ebenezer Pemberton, Don Kistler, ed., The Puritan Pulpit, Orlando, FL: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2006, p. 207.

Categories: Doctrine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “The Biggest Obstacle to Faith in Christ the Savior

  1. Ray B.

    How about just a simple explanation as to “what keeps sinners from Christ?” The fact is that we are ALL born spiritually dead and therefore have nothing within us to seek God in any way other than a religious system of works and merit? Practically every false doctrine has its root planted firmly in the soil that denies the total depravity of man. I heard it said once; “There are only two religious systems in all the world. One system is that of works, whereby man is responsible to secure his salvation as prescribed through a variety of meritorious religious systems. The other, based on God’s Word, is the one of the Bible, whereby man is saved not by any action of himself, but one of grace alone.” Not too long ago, I showed a young man (that attended a “fundamentalist” Baptist church that taught “free will”) Ephesians 2: 8, 9 … in particular “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” I asked the young man “what exactly is the gift of God?” “Is it just grace, or is it faith also that is included as a gift from God?” My young friend was stunned, because he has always been told that his “faith” that “originated” in him (a spiritually dead person) “saved” him. This young man was struggling spiritually, mainly because his pastor is a huge Charles Finney proponent. If you know anything about Charles Finney and his Systematic Theology, you will know readily what the problem is.

    I feel very sorry for people that are believers in “free willism” because I too was one that held to that unbiblical position. During that time, I was miserable. As a young believer searching for answers …. and asking God to teach me His truth, I ‘stumbled’ across Luther’s “The Bondage of the Will” in a public library. That book also contained Erasmus’s “Free Will” argument; one that I recognized as an argument that could very well have been written by a modern day Evangelical. Also, my wife to be, while attending a Bible Institute found A. W. Pink’s “Sovereignty of God” in the school’s library and told me “I don’t know why, but I feel you need to read this book.” God, in His tender mercy, always answers the prayers of a contrite heart searching for His truth.

    Free willism makes one a slave to deception and ultimately, works. It cause confusion, and brings into question numerous passages (throughout the entire Bible) that addresses God’s sovereign grace. Free grace is the truth that sets one free to “believe God” …. not just “believe in God.” There is a world of difference between the two.

  2. Rayburne F. Winsor

    I agree with Ray B. My spiritual journey to Christ crossed similar lines. I believe that the biblical teaching of human human (pervasive) depravity (Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19) is absolutely essential to understanding why salvation (past, present, future) is all of God’ s grace, without which spiritually dead, blind and rebellious sinners would be helpless and hopeless to come to Christ in repentance and faith for salvation apart from the regenerating, convicting, drawing and adopting power of the Spirit of God in the new birth to enable them to believe in Christ in order to be saved (see Acts 16:14; John 6:44, 63, 65; Titus 3:5; 2 Cor. 5:17, 21).

    • Yes, but pride is that characteristic of of a depraved nature that prevents man from admitting he needs the Savior. He is dead. Pride is a characteristic of that death which directly impacts his ability to submit to Christ’s love.

  3. Ray B.

    I was slightly surprised to see the recent replies to my post that was made back in 2013.

    While I totally agree that “pride is a characteristic” of the fall, I think we need to keep in mind, that the result of the fall was the complete, total, spiritual death of all human beings. Because of this spiritual death, fallen man cannot “see” the Kingdom of God, and consequently, cannot see the benefits of partaking in that Kingdom. Fallen man “enjoys” (or so he thinks) being the lord over his own sinful, rebellious kingdom and has no interest in being a subject to the sovereign King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.”

    I heard it once said by a preacher that he wished people knew John 3:19 as well as they knew John 3:16. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

    Do men really seek God, and only need to have someone properly explain Christ to them in order to be saved? Will they respond by merely explaining God’s love to them? By far, most will not, simply because they do not have the desire within themselves, apart from God’s sovereign grace.

    “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” I Cor. 2:14

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