Three Things that Keep People from Christ

Well, we’ve been studying the book of Titus, but we have some very special things planned over the next few weeks, and so I didn’t want to launch into the next section of Titus for a while. And I was reflecting, as I often do, on the Christmas season. I spend a lot of time doing radio talk shows by telephone and talking to people about Christmas and what it means; sometimes even unbelieving people who called in and wanted to talk about it.And, of course, I watch the world, like you do, go by, and nominally, superficially celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, understanding this is the Son of God in human flesh who died and rose again, and all of that gospel data that they know. And I watch the world with that sort of shallow apprehension of fact and truth, look at Christ, celebrate this particular time of year, and then go right back to the way they’ve always lived, if in fact they ever changed anything even during Christmas. They have some kind of interest in Christ, some kind of fascination about Christ, maybe some appreciation of Him. But it never ever causes a change in their life; they ultimately reject Him.And I began to sort of pose the question in my own mind, “How can people do that? Why do people reject Christ?” I mean, if someone came along and said, “Look, I want to forgive all your sins, and remove them as far as the east is from the west so that they’ll never be remembered again; and you’ll be eternally free from guilt, shame, and any punishment,” that sounds like a fairly good offer. You can’t imagine a rational person saying, “I’m not interested.”If someone comes along and says, “Look, there’s a real possibility that you’re going to spend forever in a burning pit, where you’re going to live forever in torment and torture, and you’re going to cry out in pain forever And I want to deliver you from that place, and I want to take you to a place called heaven where everything is bliss, and everything is joy and rejoicing and happiness and fulfillment and satisfaction.” Now you would assume that any rational person would respond by saying, “That sounds like a pretty good offer. I think I’ll take that.”Somebody came along and said, “I want to tell you about life. Life can be frightening, life can be terrorizing, life can be uncertain, life can be debilitating, life can be painful, life can be sad, life can be unfulfilling; I want to change all that. I want to fill your life with joy. I want to fill your life with abundance. I want to fill your life with peace. I want you to be able to live life in this world to the maximum level. I want to make possible for you the fulfillment of every relationship and every experience.” Sounds like a pretty good offer, doesn’t it?And those are precisely the things that Jesus Christ offers, and they are precisely the things that people refuse. Why? Because they don’t understand them? No. There is a major hindrance here, and it is at the heart of understanding a gospel call or a gospel presentation.We’re being told today that if we were more effective in marketing the gospel, more people would be buying it. If we were more clever in presenting it, more people would respond to it. If our presentations were more entertaining, or more dramatic, or more attractive; if we could just throw in some added stuff like signs and wonders, and health and wealth, and a little worldly fun, we could get people to buy Christ much more easily.Is that really so? Is it a matter of marketing strategy? What is it that keeps people from responding to Christ? What causes people to ignore the truth and reject Him, even understanding what that truth offers?Well, I think the Lord Jesus gave us deep insight into that question and gave us the answer in some illustrations found in Matthew 8 and Luke 9. Let’s look at Matthew 8, and then in a moment I’ll read you from Luke chapter 9.Matthew chapter 8, verse 18: “Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side. A certain scribe came and said to Him, ‘Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ And another of the disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.’”Then over in Luke chapter 9 we find the parallel passage. Verse 57: “As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, ‘I’ll follow You wherever You go.’ Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’ And He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ And he said, ‘Permit me first to go and bury my father.’ And He said to him, ‘Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.’ And another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say goodbye to those at home.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one

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