The Art of Persuasion

The Art of Persuasion

Written by Jeffrey A. Stivason |
Friday, September 30, 2022

The response of Habakkuk is not to pull up his bootstraps but to call upon the Lord. He asks him to bring about faith that shall enable him to live. It seems that this is an excellent example of where inducements ought to lead hearers. When they hear them, they should turn to the Lord.  However, it is also a good reminder for preachers and teachers. They are to persuade men, women, and children, yes, but they are to realize that God’s Spirit is the ultimate persuader.  They are only instruments in the hands of the Redeemer. They are not more. But they are certainly not less. May God make his ministers persuasive men.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of pastoral work is the work of persuasion. In other words, how do we persuade others? How do we persuade unbelievers to see the beauty of Christ (II Cor. 5:11)? And how do we persuade Christians to do what they ought to want to do (Heb. 3:12)? The temptation for the minister is to act like a magistrate. However, there is a problem. We don’t have the power of a magistrate. John Chrysostom delineates the difference between the magistrate and the minister in his worthwhile, The Six Books of the Priesthood.[1]He writes,

“For Christians above all men are forbidden to correct the stumbling of sinners by force.  When secular judges convict wrong doers under the law, they show that their authority is complete and compel men, whether they will or no, to submit to their methods. But in the case we are considering it is necessary to make a man better not by force but by persuasion.  We neither have authority granted to us by law to restrain sinners, nor, if it were, should we know how to use it, since God gives the crown to those who are kept from evil, not by force, but by choice. For this reason a lot of tact is needed, so that the sick may be persuaded of their own accord to submit to the treatment…and be grateful for the cure.”[2]

A page after this quote Chrysostom writes, “But if a man wanders away form the right faith, the shepherd needs a lot of concentration, perseverance, and patience.  He cannot drag by force or constrain by fear, but must by persuasion lead him back to the true beginning from which he has fallen away.”[3]Strikingly, we have an example in Scripture as to how to do this very thing.  The Christians in the book of Hebrews were thinking of deserting the Faith and returning the Judaism. And in Hebrews 10:32-39 we have an example of persuasion.  I’d like to briefly unpack the thought.  In other words, I am going to show the inducements used by the preacher to persuade.

The Experiential Inducement

The preacher encourages his hearers to “recall former days when, after you were enlightened…” In other words, he asked them to remember the early days of their faith when God’s gospel light poured through the windows of their soul (II Cor. 4:6).  Obviously, the days had become difficult.

Read More

Scroll to top