What does Scripture teach about the results from preaching? Does it quantify them or in any way provide an expectation of what should be the result of preaching?
Yes. ‘God causes the growth’. [I Cor 3:7b].
Also, in the parable of the sower the Lord Jesus describes the growth from seed planted into good ground, “And others (seed) fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty and some thirty”. [Matthew 13:8]
The first point is the results are caused by God and the actual result is the seed bringing forth fruit of its kind – in other words the Word of God brings forth eternal life when it is sown in good soil.
What has to happen prior to the seed bringing forth fruit? It must be sown and watered.
This is the point today: the preacher’s job is to sow and water the Word. He is not responsible for God causing an increase but is responsible for sowing and watering the Word.
Let’s look at the earlier verses in 1 Corinthians 3:5-6, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”
Even here you read Paul exhortation to Timothy which is to in essence sow and water the Word:
I Timothy 4:13, “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and to teaching.”
II Timothy 4:2, “preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction.”
If it was Timothy’s job to produces results then Paul would have instructed Timothy to do so; but his instruction is to do the very thing, sow and water, that leads to a result.
Even in Acts 6 when the Apostles set aside seven men to be Deacons in the first Church in Jerusalem they say in verses two to four: “So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, ‘It is not desirable for us to neglect the Word of God in order to serve tables. Therefore brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word”.
Hopefully the Scripture is clear that the evangelist’s job is to sow and water the Word and that is what brings forth a result caused by God.
Can we increase the results caused by God? That is somewhat of a mystery but what we can do is continue to prepare, Acts 6:4, in prepare in study of the Word. Continued preparation is bound to produce more results caused by God amongst your hearers.
But perhaps the best way to think about this is that we grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus through our preparation and that is God’s goal for us as evangelists; then as men who bear much fruit in our own life we are able to sow and water with potentially greater results caused by God.