By Al Behel
“...the message which they heard did not benefit them, because it did not meet with faith in the hearers” (Hebrews 4:2)
I read a stimulating article by Joe Barnett entitle “Lousy Sermons.” Every preacher has experienced the varied reactions of people to sermons they preach. The same sermon might be met with comments like, “I really needed that message”, or “I was moved by that sermon to try harder to please God”, to “that did nothing for me”, or “I didn’t get anything out of it.” Still others are overtly critical of the delivery or the message itself or the messenger.
Ministers are usually their own hardest critics. “Did I say what I needed to say?” “That wasn’t very effective,” or, “I should have chosen something different to talk about today.” Sometimes the problem lies with the preacher. Maybe he really didn’t know much about the topic, or, perhaps he is a dedicated man who didn’t have the equipment for the job.
But, there may be another possibility—one that has nothing to do with the message itself or the one delivering it. The problem can be with the hearer. Hebrews 4:2 tells of times the message of God failed in its purpose or intent because “it was not met with faith in the hearers.” A good sermon must involve the speaker and the hearer. The presentation and the reception are equally important.
The message needs to be clear, truthful, and delivered with the right attitude on the part of the speaker.
The reception of the message can depend on the condition of heart and mind, and the “faith” of the hearer. Unless there is a willingness to believe and accept truth the words spoken are ineffective.
The message of the cross will be lost when it is not met with faith. The result will be that it “did not benefit them” (Hebrews 4:2).
- Al Behel preaches for the Great Smoky Mountains Church of Christ in Pigeon Forge, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://greatsmokymountainschurchofchrist.com/