Whether they listen or refuse to listen — for they are a rebellious house — they will know that a prophet has been among them. – Ezekiel 2:5
It has been my privilege to speak in many different locations to many different audiences (in a couple of different languages) over the past 30+ years and the experience has taught me that it is not easy to gauge receptivity. In some places and with some attendees, I felt like the message was falling on deaf ears and hard hearts … only to learn later that God had affected change in some wonderful ways. At other times, I felt warmly received, but the message seemed to invoke no long-lasting difference among the listeners.
While those who present a biblical message should certainly do their best to speak with clarity and zeal, there is an abiding principle to be understood by all. Reception of God’s truth … “whether they listen or refuse to listen” … is a synchronous act of an audience’s will and the Holy Spirit’s regenerative conviction. Whatever the outcome, may those who are present when we speak know this, “that a prophet has been among them” and they have heard God’s truth … received or not.
Preaching is effective as long as the preacher expects something to happen – not because of the sermon, not even because of the preacher, but because of God. – John Hines