Preaching That Calls For No Response Or A False Response
Preachers must guard against two false extremes: on the one hand, the failure to issue any call for response to the message; and on the other hand, the foolish notion that an immediate overt response to a presentation of partial truth always results in eternal salvation.
Much preaching appears pointless. If there is anything the hearers ought to do in response to it, they are left with no idea of what that response should be. A serious question must be raised whether this is preaching at all. Even if by some stretch of the imagination, or by some act of charity, pointless preaching can be favorably judged, a solemn fact must be faced: preaching that calls neither for a response nor moves people toward responding correctly is a hindrance to revival.
The hindrance to revival is equally as great when over-confidence is placed in overt responses. That the Holy Spirit is powerful enough to totally and permanently transform a person in an immediate response to a partial truth is not questioned. That this is the normal way the Spirit works is certainly not the case. In the ministry of Jesus, the bulk of the of the permanent responses, came as a result of years of disciplining. The records of those who had a one time exposure to a tidbit of truth and were eternally saved are scarce. The stress I place is upon partial truth. Most of today’s sermons are so brief and so shallow that almost any truth conveyed has to be incomplete. Surely there was wisdom in the practice of earlier itinerant evangelists in preaching for days, even weeks, before issuing any call for overt responses.
What is a major contributor to the moral and spiritual decline in this generation? Is it not the negative impact of the inconsistent lives of millions of professed Christians who have never experienced a transforming work of the Holy Spirit. To add to that multitude by overemphasis on premature overt responses to sermons is a grievous offense against the Savior. This is a problem that ever loving preacher can immediately correct.
Those of us who preach do not need to look for hindrances to revival in others until we have first eliminated all the hindrances already working in our own lives and ministries. Let us covenant together to make changes that are needed.
But what about those who are not called to preach? Is there some way you have contributed to those hindrances? If so will you repent? Then will you pledge yourself to pray that all the preachers you know will rise above these hindrances. To your prayers add whatever help and encouragement you can give. Together, with God’s help, these hindrances can be moved.