I live in the Bible Belt. This is a place that certainly has a lot of bad teaching in terms of theology. But there is also great access to the gospel. And sometimes I wonder, “Why aren’t more people Christians?” Sure, I understand God is wholly sovereign in salvation. And I rejoice in this! (see this post)
But, from the human perspective, I still am curious at times as to what it is that prevents more people from embracing Christ in saving faith.
In general, I have two main answers. Some reading this post may understand the facts of the gospel and believe that they are true. But you have not entrusted all that you are to Christ. You have not laid hold of His person and work in desperation as your only suitable and all-sufficient Savior.
Here are my two reasons. The first is sin. While you believe the facts of the gospel, you still desperately love your sin. You love self. You love your ways of doing things. You love the pleasure sin brings you. You love to be your own little god and, if truth be told, you wish other people would love you more than they do because you deserve it and if you could demand their worship you would.
You may mentally acknowledge that sin is bad but you keep doing it anyway. You are okay living in sin before God. You keep living as though Christ will not righteously judge every one of your sins. But He will if you do not turn to Christ in your heart, if you do not stretch the open hand of faith to Christ and let Him fill it with Himself.
Why do so many people know what the gospel is, but do not exercise saving faith in Christ? The first answer is sin.
Here is my second answer for what will keep you from savingly trusting in Jesus. Your righteousness.
Perhaps that sounds strange. But in your heart of hearts, you are trusting your works. You are trusting your church attendance. Your tithes. Your Bible reading. Your own morality.
Sure, you may admit you need Jesus, but you’ve not come to that point where you have said “I’ve got Jesus and nothing else” to warrant God’s acceptance. While you might acknowledge that you have sin, you don’t deem it worthy enough to spend an eternity in Hell.
You’re ready to defend yourself to others. You’re ready to commend yourself to God. And this ultimately keeps you from trusting what you truly need: Christ alone. The only way you will be accepted by God is in Christ. By faith in Him we are imputed with His righteousness. Yours won’t stand a chance. After all, it’s filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
How can you overcome these obstacles? If you do, it is ultimately by grace. But perhaps God is being gracious to you even know in the fact that you’re reading this post. My advice to you is to call out to God to help you understand more fully the reality of your situation. Go to the Scriptures and talk with a pastor or believing friend about your specific scenario. Most importantly, resolve that your sin and your righteousness will not keep you from Jesus. Cast them aside and run to Him in faith!