One of the very first things the Lord taught me when I started street-preaching was that I am not responsible for how people respond. My work was to simply speak forth the Word
of God. He showed me that I am not to consider how or even if the message will be received, I am simply to speak it forth in obedience.
If people respond well, praise God. If they don’t, praise God anyway.
I have seen many different responses to the preaching of the gospel. Sometimes there is conviction by the Spirit and sometimes reception to the Word of God. But most often it is this:
- Demonic manifestations, including cursing Jesus, foul/sexual language and personal abuse
- Shaking heads sadly
- Turning off the PA or trying to steal my microphone from my hand
- Laughing and mocking
- Hardness of heart, those who are completely unreceptive/unresponsive to the gospel
The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) demonstrates that there is a variety of different grounds of reception to the word of God. Whilst many different responses are possible, the one I dislike encountering the most is the last one. I would much rather encounter demonic manifestations or outright aggression to the Word of God than the completely unresponsive, hard-hearted receptions I get from some. Why? Because with the aggressive/demonic I know something of the Word has penetrated somewhere and it is bringing about a response.
But the proud, unreceptive person is just that – unreceptive. Unable and unwilling to receive of God. They are able to stand right in front of me while I am preaching about hell or about the amazing love of God and send a text message. Nothing penetrates.
Whilst I must keep going and not let that deter me from my mission, there is One who cares deeply how His Word and how His prophetic voice are received. That is, of course, God.
Standing right between the parable of the Sower and Christ’s explanation of that parable is this passage:
“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.” Matthew 13:13-16
And so I have to ask: Do our eyes see? Do our ears hear?
You see, each of those responses listed above from unregenerate sinners, I have also encountered in the church (excluding the cursing of Christ).
Beloved, this should not be so.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.”
Are we able to receive of God? Am I able to?
Oh yes I know we are Christians. I know we know lots about the Bible and about God. But are we able to actually receive from Him?
Have we learnt so much over the years, and been to church for so long that we now know it all? Has the earth of our heart become stony again?
Can the seed of the word of God still penetrate? Or is it only possible when we hear a “positive” word that is complimentary or affirming to our flesh in some way?
Can we be reproved? Or are we immediately on the defense? What if God wanted to correct us and what if He sent an “unlikely” prophet to do it? Would we be able to receive from Him?
Or would we reject the prophet and his words?
God takes very seriously the reception or rejection of His prophetic Word and there are consequences to both responses.
- the consequences of the reception and the rejection of the prophetic word
- Testing the spirits