Apologeet.nlEight Reasons Why People Won’t Accept The Gospel
Reason 8 – They are not content with Christ but on terms of their own making
The eight reason of why people won’t accept the Gospel:
They are not content with Christ but on terms of their own making
They are not content with Christ but on terms of their own making. They are like those who seek to buy a commodity which, yet they can be without. If they can get it at their own price, they will take it; if not, they can want it. There are right-eye sins, yet they will by no means part with them. They are not pleased with the covenant, some things are in it which they must have out; there are some things out which they must have in, else they will not come into it. Hence, they care not for the gospel, or that covenant which it reveals.
That’s quite something, isn’t it? Boston says that many unbelievers do realise they need the Gospel, but they have a fixed price of what they are willing to pay for it. When it demands a little more than that what they want to give, they will willingly go without it. Like Boston said: “They can want it.” In other words: it is just another thing on their list. If it suits them and when the demands change they may reconsider.
This is exactly what I did before I became a follower of Jesus. At one point I believed the whole story. God created the world. Humans sinned against Him. We needed to be saved. Jesus died and rose again. Salvation was only possible through Him. Oh yes, salvation sounds nice… Nope, I am not going to give up my life. Say what? That’s the price. Okay, in that case I can go without! It’s a good thing God’s Spirit is more stubborn than I am.
The precious pearl
Our children loved the story of the precious pearl.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”
We read them this story from a children’s book. The merchant is rich! He’s got a huge house with a pond and fountain. He’s got 15 rooms with furniture and six fridges with food and bubbly lemonade. He is literally sleeping on stacks of money. But then he sees a beautiful pearl! He goes home and sells his furniture, the fridges, his food and lemonade. Then he also sells his house with the pond and all the fish with it. Yes, he even sells his lovely coat. Then he goes back to the shop to buy the pearl… Oh bother! He is six coins short. The seller says that if the man gives his hat with the wobbly feather he may have the pearl. Deal! Says the man. And happy as could be he goes his way with the precious pearl in his hand.i
Is the price to high to pay?
The unbeliever’s mistake ‘numero uno’ is that he or she is looking at the price it will cost to be saved, and, if the asking price is too high, they will go without. Or else, they will look for a ‘saviour’ who is less demanding. If following Jesus means they have to pluck out the right eye, the price is too big. They will either continue their way on the broad road, or, they will see whether they can find a gospel which allows him to keep the ‘eye’— and for that matter, also their ‘right’ hand, their lusts, and their riches—and still go to heaven. You see, the road to heaven is narrow. A narrow road is very difficult to travel when you want to keep all your belongings. The unbeliever might think he can bring a shovel and start to widen the road! That way they believe they can set the terms of the gospel.
Let’s quote another scholar from the old times, shall we:
Stephen Charnock, who lived from 1628-1680, wrote:
“The happiness the gospel proposes is naturally desirable and desired by all men, but it is not entertained by men, because of their natural enmity against it, not against the good things proposed in it, but against the means and methods, which God hath ordered for the attainment of them. […] It is man’s enmity, and not his ignorance makes him reject that in the Gospel, which he desires by his natural constitution as a rational creature. And this is such a folly… to refuse those things… for a vanishing trash, a lust, which is but a magazine of torments, and treasure of everlasting wrath.”ii
Now you might think this only plays a role when someone has a lot to lose. Like the rich merchant in our story. Also, people with a huge ego don’t want to give up that ego and admit they too need to be saved. People who love certain habits of which they know they have to give it up when they accept the Gospel.Their love for these habits might be bigger than their love for eternal salvation.
I even see the same attitude here in the in-lands of Madagascar. People here don’t have much and an adult man makes about 1 Euro a day, when he has a job that is. People love the rituals that come with ancestor worship. Mind you! They are petrified of many aspects of their religion, but some things are just to sweet. Getting intoxicated of plants during ceremonies. Getting drunk during funerals or any other party for that matter. Sexual behaviours that are more or less accepted as part of life. Giving those habits up is way too expensive for many. Just like many in Europe, they might decide to go to church on the Sunday morning but during the rest of the week they quickly run back to their much treasured live style.
Very hard to preach to them
Personally I see this as one of the most stubborn and frustrating reasons of why people won’t accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That might be different for you but for me, it is like looking in a mirror. I have been there. I just flat out refused Jesus’ salvation because my ego was way too dear to me.
Like I said, I am happy that the Holy Spirit is more stubborn than I am. In the end I gave in. I could not save myself and needed Jesus. I was close to the words of Proverbs 29:1
“A man who hardens his neck after much reproof Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.”
Are you like someone who hardens his neck? In other words: Are you someone who knows the Gospel but hardens in the fact that you are not going to give up your own treasure? Let me give you some advice! Stop it! You’ll end up broken beyond remedy. You’ll end up like one of the many unbelievers who have hardened their hearts in such a way that it almost impossible to heal. I do say ‘almost’, because I know that for God nothing is impossible.
“When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
i Butterworth, N., Inkpen, M., Acht verhalen van Jezus, (trans.) Marijke Bleij, Ark Boeken – VVHS/BKV, Amsterdam, 1995.
ii Parsons, E., The Works of the Late Rev. Stephen Charnock: With a Prefatory Dedication and Memoir, Vol. 6, Baynes, London, Leeds 1815, pp. 406.