Sharing the Gospel With Those Who Won't Listen

What now?

We've all been there. Stuck wondering if our friend or family member will ever open up to Jesus as we watch them grow more and more resistant to the Gospel...
Last week, we received the anonymous question on the weekend connect card...
"How do you share the word to someone that blocks you out and changes the subject every time you try?"
First, I just want to say that I feel you. Watching a loved one reject the Word is one of the most difficult things we will ever face in the Christian walk.

Second, I want to encourage you in this feeling. I believe it is a God-given desire that burdens you to see this friend or family member believe in Christ and hear the Word. However, just because we can find comfort in this being a God-given desire, it doesn't make it easy.

In this discussion, instead of looking at steps to take to be successful in these types of situations, we're going to look at two Biblical characters who fully embraced situations such as this and glean what we can from their lives.

You're probably familiar with the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel. Isaiah had this amazing encounter with God in a vision that is recorded for us in Isaiah 6. God is sitting on his throne, the unfolding scene is breath-taking and we're all pumped to hear God's call to Isaiah read aloud in worship services. "Here I am Lord, send me!" we all shout as we look at the gospel work before us through rose colored eyes. Yet we rarely continue reading past verse 8 in this chapter to find out that Isaiah's ministry wasn't easy. In fact, Isaiah's ministry was filled with people who would block him out and change the subject every time he would deliver the Word of the Lord. Ezekiel was similar. Called to the role of a prophet in Ezekiel 2 only to be told a few verses later that "...the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehand and a stubborn heart."  (Ezekiel 3:7 ESV). Called to the role of prophet, one who proclaims the Word of God... and then told that no one will listen.

How did these guys get books in the Old Testament again? If these brothers were QB's in the NFL their receiving corps is dropping passes left and right. These are the types of QB's that get benched, traded and discarded. Sound familiar? if you feel like there are people in your life that you're called to share the Gospel with, and yet they don't listen to you... then you're on the same bench as Isaiah and Ezekiel. What's interesting about Isaiah and Ezekiel is that God doesn't bench these brothers or radically change the play calls. These prophets keep preaching and God's promises to them remain faithful... The promise that Israel will not hear the Word nor repent. It is good news that God doesn't use traditional playcalls to win the game and He certainly doesn't use traditional players.

I think the greatest lesson that we can glean from these examples, as we ask how to pursue those who aren't responding to God's call of salvation, is to hold fast.

Hold Fast

Clearly, God's ultimate goal with Isaiah and Ezekiel wasn't the best prophet rating in the OT or a win streak that rivaled the Assyrian Rugby team. He was interested in faithfulness. The books of Isaiah and Ezekiel are filled with the prophets preaching only followed by a negative or nonresponse and yet God's plan was accomplished.
Now, let me say this. If salvation came from the success of the preacher or the presenter, then you, myself, Isaiah and Ezekiel can all take a number in the unemployment line. Timothy wasn't commanded by Paul in 2 Timothy 4:2 to "preach the Word" because people were responding to his teaching but because people were "not enduring sound teaching" (vs. 4). Thankfully, response to our teaching isn't the barometer. Faithfulness is the barometer. So hold fast and keep on being faithful. He is worthy of all our effort.

I recognize that these thoughts may not be exactly what we want to hear. There is a man in my life who I've been praying for for nearly 15 years and to my knowledge, he still hasn't accepted Christ. Yet I trust that God's plan and timing to call this brother to redemption is perfect and that my job is simply to hold fast, because Jesus Christ is worthy.

I have attached two songs that echo these words that I find encouraging as I think through the challenges that many of us are facing. I pray that you be encouraged and press on in faithful service, even when the going gets tough.

Pastor Matt

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