WHY ARE PEOPLE IN NORTH AMERICA SO HARD HEARTED TOWARD THE GOSPEL?
by Alan Yusko
This is a question that many have asked. Here in North America the Gospel is freely available. However most are not interested. In fact we are witnessing North America actually turn against the Gospel? Why is this so? If the Gospel is everywhere in North America then why is it met with apathy or hostility? This tract will examine a few reasons why we are seeing the rejection of the Gospel.
In North America we are privileged to have the Gospel presented by print, TV, radio, and many other ways. However we do not live in a 'Christian land' even though the Gospel is throughout the land. There must be a reason for such a rejection of the Gospel. We will begin our search for a possible answer to this problem by looking at portions of Scripture that deals with the distractions of wealth.
RICH YOUNG RULER
The following is the story about a rich young ruler who at first wanted to have eternal life. However the end result is he walked away sad...in rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
16. And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
The story begins by the young man coming to the Lord Jesus and asking the Lord what must be done to have eternal life. The real answer is that nothing must be done to merit eternal life. However this rich young ruler wanted to justify himself. As he approached the Lord he called him, respectfully, good master. Next is the Lords' answer. Remember the Lord is answering him in context of the question: 'what good thing shall I do....'.
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
One way to be saved is to keep all the Old Testament law. If a person could live by the Law and never sin once from birth to death then they could go straight to heaven. However since we are ALL sinners... no one can live life without sinning. In answering the Lord Jesus tells the man to keep the commandments. This means ALL of them at all times.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and [thy] mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
The young man was a bit of a liar (or self deceived)... no one can keep all the commandments perfectly. At any rate he answered stating that he was without sin and had nothing lacking in his life. This is just not true as no one is sinless before God. Next here is what the Lord Jesus said in response:
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.
The Lord Jesus pointed out one characteristic that was lacking. The sin of coveting riches. The Lord just asked the man to give up all the things of this world and come and follow the Him.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Here is the reaction of the young rich man. He couldn't handle the commitment. Instead he walked away from the Lord and eternal life. He made a choice and it was between the riches of this world vs the Lord and eternal life. The young rich man chose the riches of this world over the things of God.
23. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.
24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
The Lord commented on what happened to His disciples. Why is it so hard for the rich to be saved? Well their hearts are bound up in the riches of this world and they cannot give that up for anything. Are riches evil? No, but the love of riches over the Lord certainly is an evil thing.
So lets relate the above story to the topic of this tract. People in North America are like a nation of rich young rulers. Even the poor are quite wealthy compared to other places in the world. What happens when a person is rich? In many cases they do not see their need for God and the salvation He freely offers. Instead the rich want to come to God on their terms. That was the goal of the rich young ruler in the above story. He wanted eternal life but he wanted it on his terms and not on God's terms. The end result is he walked away sad when he heard the terms from the Lord Jesus.
So wealth can keep a person away from the Gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ. The wealthy in most cases do not see their need for God and a Saviour. Instead they are self sufficient in their riches. In North America the Gospel is presented by all forms of the media. It is printed, broadcasted on radio, TV, movies, and even by computers! The end result is the same. There is a tremendous amount of apathy from those who hear it. The Gospel message reaches a few here and a few there but the majority are not even interested. Instead the majority of rich young rulers in North America have other priorities instead of the Gospel and eternal life. Yes it is true that everyone certainly wants to spend eternity in heaven. However few are willing to obey God and accept salvation on God's terms. The terms of salvation are a total commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is giving the Lord control of your life. This is a tall order for the rich young rulers in North America who pride themselves on their self-sufficiency and trust in their riches.
LAYING UP TREASURE: WITHOUT GOD
What do rich young rulers do? Well they live their lives trusting in riches instead of God. The goal is to accumulate wealth and one day retire and enjoy their wealth. God is not needed as wealth does offer a temporal satisfaction in life. Below is a parable of a rich man:
16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, [and] be merry.
20 But God said unto him, [Thou] fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21 So [is] he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
The rich have their life here on earth. Notice the above rich man did not have God in his thoughts at all. Instead he was planning ways to increase his riches. He didn't realize that he lived life just one heartbeat away from hell. Here in North America we have many people pursuing riches. God is not in their thoughts or in their life. The goal is not to draw close to God but rather to increase wealth. This is why the Gospel can be preached throughout North America with little results. In fact to day North America is turning against the Gospel and the things of God. Today the goal of gaining riches consumes the empty lives of many as they set their goals on temporal things.
One day death will come to all the rich young rulers. They spent their lives ignoring God. However there comes a time when everyone must stand before a holy God and give account for his life. Did that person accept the Lord Jesus and the free gift of eternal life? Or did that person reject the Lord Jesus and die in his sins. Sin must be punished and either a person allows the Lord Jesus to pay for his sins or that person will pay for his sins himself. Death can be an unwelcome surprise. It can be a unhappy surprise at the end of a long life of ignoring God and His salvation.
In light of the rich man's self-sufficiency God has special plans for the rich. Those who trust in their riches will one day weep and howl as God judges their treasures in these last days.
1. Go to now, [ye] rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon [you].
2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
God is not pleased with those who heap up treasure as their main goal in life. It is quite foolish to ignore the eternal for short term temporal riches. Put God first and He will take good care of His children. If riches come your way then be thankful and keep God first... not the riches.
IN LOVE WITH DARKNESS AND SIN
Why do people seek riches and reject the things of God? Well one answer is the love of sin. When a person loves sin and darkness they do not want to turn from it.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
Today we are seeing a rejection of the things of God in North America. Look at verse 19 above. Light (the Gospel) has come into the world but people loved and chose darkness rather than light (the Gospel). Then in verse 20 those who have chosen evil actually hate the light (the Gospel). We are seeing the fulfillment of verse 20 today. The closer we get to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ the more the Gospel is hated in the world.
THE NARROW WAY
Another characteristic of the Gospel is that it is very narrow. Man does not come to God on his own terms. God expects a person who wishes to be saved to come to salvation on God's terms. Those terms are repentance of sin and a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Good works do not save. Rituals, statues, prayers, and other so-called religious leaders do not save. Only the Lord Jesus saves. In fact the Lord Jesus is the ONLY way to God and all other ways actually lead to an eternity in hell. Salvation is a very narrow way that is rejected by the rich young rulers. You see the rich like to come to God on their own terms. The end result is that salvation is a narrow path (the Lord Jesus) and few find it! I might also point out that few actually WANT salvation on God's terms.
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Why do people ignore the way to salvation and eternal life? Could it be that their eyes are so attached to the temporal things and riches of this present world that they have no desire for the eternal? What a price to pay for a few good years in light of an eternity without God!
It really does not make any sense to be a rich young ruler. To have the goal of accumulating wealth and ignoring God is quite foolish.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
What will a person profit if he accumulates the wealth of the world but in death he loses his eternal soul? When a person is living eternal things are far from consideration but it is still a very important reality. Ignoring eternal life for some temporary earthly riches is foolish.
In this tract we have asked the question: Why are people in North America so hard hearted toward the Gospel? We gave a possible answer. We are a nation of rich young rulers who are more interested in accumulating wealth than in any consideration of the eternal things of God. We saw in Scripture how those who are attached to sin are not interested in God. In fact those who reject the light actually turn hostile to it. However God calls that attitude foolishness. One day all men must stand before God and be judged. What was done with the Lord Jesus Christ? Did a person accept Him as Lord and Saviour or did that person choose instead to lust after the wealth of the world?
What kind of a person are you??? Are you a wealth seeker instead of one who seeks God? Is it more important to you to gain wealth and the things of the world than to have eternal life through the Lord Jesus Christ?
Think about it.... It is an eternal question!
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