Summary: In a university speech class we were taught that every audience contains three groups of listeners: those who will be opposed to what you say, those who are neutral to your position and those who have a favorable disposition toward you or your issues. Whe
1. In a university speech class we were taught that every audience contains three groups of listeners: those who will be opposed to what you say, those who are neutral to your position and those who have a favorable disposition toward you or your issues.
When Peter spoke to the Sanhedrin he knew that the majority opposed his views, some were neutral like Gamaliel and a very few might have been inwardly favorable toward his message. Peter knew that his listenersâ predisposition toward Christ determined what they would actually understand him to say.
How people relate to Christ and the scriptures is a good indication of how they will respond to your Biblical teaching.
Application: Trust God to help you design your messages so as to have something for each of these three kinds of listeners.
2. The unfavorable are people who are resistant to the truth of the scriptures unless it agrees with their preconceived notions. Peter knew that the Pharisees resisted Jesus Christ because His truth threatened their secure positions, philosophies and social standing.
These were men who did not even realize that they were fighting against God. Evil people strive to block the advancement of truth, righteousness and goodness because they hate the light of truth and fear being exposed by it. Some religious people also fall into similar traps, but perhaps less consciously.
Throughout church history we have seen many Catholics persecute Protestants for resisting the authority of the Catholic church. We have witnessed zealot reactionaries throw unnecessary obstacles in the way of sincere young Christians who want to grow in Christ.
Occasionally, we have seen people like the Gnostics in the book of Galatians try to impose legalistic requirements on Christians and threaten them with excommunication.
Application: Whether these leaders do so knowingly or unknowingly, they are responsible for what they communicate. Ask the Lord to give you the grace to speak the truth in a gracious manner to those who are unfavorable realizing that some battles are just not worth fighting.
3. Those who are neutral are can be influenced either for good or bad depending upon their mood. Peter knew that he might gradually move these people toward positive responses for the truth.
Occasionally it may be all right to remain neutral towards a movement, a project or a person until you have gathered all the facts. It may also be wise to suspend judgment until you have consulted with wise people. Yet, many are neutral because they are led more by fear than by faith. Those who are neutral need to be reminded of what Jesus said,
"Whoever is not for me is against me." No one should deceive themselves into believing that their continual neutrality will be interpreted as anything other than rejection of Christâs truth.
Application: Ask God to help you avoid the problem of the lukewarm Laodicean church which heard these words from Christ, "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." (Rev. 3:15,16)