Coming to faith is a process. I’ve been studying the early chapters of Daniel and the early chapters of John. It’s not uncommon to find, in the Bible, that there is a process involved in understanding God for who He is and accepting His role and self-presentation. Whether or not Nebuchadnezzar is truly “converted” in chapter 4, there are key incidents in the previous two chapters. What might this all mean for us as preachers?
1. View each message as an opportunity to move people forward one step. It takes repeated exposure to the gospel for people to gradually be drawn closer to that point of heart-level understanding and response. Even once people are saved, the process continues. So let’s not have the mentality that says, “I’ve already told them this, they should get it now!” Our listeners, just like us, are notoriously slow and gradual in responding to God.
2. Remember that the process happens apart from preaching too. While that visitor may be a first-time listener to your preaching, they may have already been through many steps on the journey (listening to preachers on the radio, reading books, interacting with believers, etc.) So while we should view each message as an opportunity to prompt the next step, we should not underestimate the opportunity and fail to present an opportunity to fully respond. Somehow we need a real sensitivity to God and to people in this aspect of ministry.