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that evidence is lacking for God, for the integrity and truth of the Bible, that the morality revealed in Scripture is outdated, or that the Bible’s record on such things as creation is contradicted by modern science.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.
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.
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.