In the parable of the sower, the seeds that fell among the rocky ground grew initially, but because they were not able to put down roots, the plants were not able to endure drought, or wind, or any kind of adversity. I am a gardener. From my own experience, I know that my peppers or tomatoes do not automatically grow just because I plant a seed. The soil must be properly prepared. They must get the proper amount of water. When they sprout, I always need to guard against bugs and diseases. But if the conditions are right, I will get fruit.
Today's preachers, for the most part, understand the gospel of grace. They will tell you that there is nothing you ever can do, or could do, to make yourself holy. Only by receiving freely the gift of God's salvation through Jesus Christ can a man be saved. I have staked my life on this truth. Yet how many who have "walked the sawdust trail" have later fallen away? Well, actually, I wish the old tent revival preachers were, in fact, preaching today. I doubt many of their converts would be so fickle. The problem I see today is that though the church correctly presents a message of grace, it is preaching to those whose lives have not been prepared to receive the Word. Somehow, our message is received as a free ticket to Heaven with no impact on how we live on earth. Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that this is how I understood grace when I first heard. I don't recall so much the part about denying myself, picking up my cross and following.
The truth is, we are all living on borrowed time. We are headed for destruction unless we stop, turn around, and head the other way. But most of us are not even aware of the danger. We are all alive only on account of God's mercy and grace. When Adam sinned, Death entered the world, and he remained physically alive because God's grace trumps justice. Today, 6000 years later, we do not realize that we also are alive only on account of grace. We are physically alive, but spiritually dead. Yes, the Gospel is indeed good news, but we can't receive it unless we understand first the problem.
I suppose this is the angst I have about today's preaching. They start with the good news without fully explaining the bad news. If I were to give counsel to the preachers, I would say start with the Holiness of God. Then present the depravity of man. Spurgeon and all the great preachers of the 19'th century understood this. Finney would make them wait, sometimes for days, in agony, before he would even let them walk that sawdust trail. We must come as mendicants, simple beggars with nothing to offer, to receive this unimaginable grace. But when we come, the soil of our hearts has been made ready.