It is the Spirit who opens eyes to His beauty and opens ears to His call. Whether at the tomb of Lazarus or before the Athenian philosophers or to the hearers assembled before us, the response of the congregation is not elicited by the preacher but by the One preached.
A group of pastors was talking about preaching, evangelistic preaching in particular. The question was raised about the appropriate way to urge people to profess faith in Christ. How do we appeal to our listeners so that they know a response is necessary for them to realize the benefits of the gospel?
The group was theologically savvy enough to know that they could not cajole anyone into the Kingdom. They fully believed the apostle when he says: “My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4–5).
They recognized that they were not to be spiritual salesmen but spiritual midwives, working in tandem with what God would bring about.
The question then remains. How do we preach to the will? Knowing that many in our congregations are without the Spirit of God and thus do not have ears to hear (1 Cor. 2:11, 14), how do we speak to them with an eye to their confessing Christ?
Let’s examine our personal experience. How did you come to Christ? For me, I had heard the gospel in full or in part many times. But there came a point when what was at one time absurd to me began to make sense, what was repugnant began to be savory, when that which I resisted became irresistible.