Jerry Bridges: The Greatest Obstacle to the Gospel
I believe that human morality, rather than flagrant sin, is the greatest obstacle to the gospel today. If you ask the average lawabiding person why he expects to go to heaven, the answer will be some form of “because I’ve been good.”
The rich young ruler (see Matthew 19:16-20), the prodigal son’s older brother (see Luke 15:28-30), and the Pharisee praying in the temple (see Luke 18:9-12) all had this in common: They were confident of their own goodness.
Their attitude is replicated throughout our society. And the more religious a person is, the more difficult it is for that person to realize his or her need for the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
I once read a story about two men who happened to be kneeling side by side at the communion rail of an English church. One was a former convict who had served time and was now out of prison. The other was the judge who had sentenced him to prison years before. After the service the minister asked the judge,
“Did you recognize the man kneeling beside you?”
“Yes I did,” replied the judge. “That was a miracle of grace.”
“You mean that a man you sentenced to prison should be kneeling beside you?”
“No, not at all,” said the judge.
“The miracle is that I should be kneeling beside him. You see, that man knew clearly he was a sinner in need of a Savior. But I was brought up in a religious home, have lived a decent, moral life, and have served my community. It is much more difficult for someone such as I to recognize his need for a Savior. I am the miracle of grace.”
Jerry Bridges, The Gospel For Real Life, 121-122.