"How to Listen to a Sermon"

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The Bible tells us, "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Therefore, the lost sinner must hear the gospel, the message about Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and risen from the dead, in order to be saved from his sins (1 Corinthians 1:21, 23; 2:2; 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 4:5). Furthermore, he must hear this message with faith (Galatians 3:2, 5; Hebrews 11:1, 6), which is a gift from God (John 6:29; Ephesians 2:8-9)!

Put another way, a Christian’s election unto eternal life (Ephesians 1:4; Acts 13:48) cannot insure his salvation apart from hearing the gospel message of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). This is Paul’s precise point in 2 Timothy 2:8-10: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” So then, a proper hearing of the gospel is vital to the eternal welfare of an unsaved soul. But it is also crucial for the ongoing spiritual maturity of every believer. Yes, the Christian must still work at properly hearing God’s Word: before, during, and after he has heard it. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews addressed this looming problem over every Christian’s life. That is, with our everyday spiritual struggle with dull-headedness (or if you care to call it bed-headedness, or even dead-headedness). It's one of the greatest obstacles to our spiritual growth, “about this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing” (Hebrews 5:11; 6:12). Should we wonder why the apostle Paul said, "Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness" (1 Timothy 4:7),  and "…take every thought captive to obey Christ' (2 Corinthians 10:5)? Beloved, our spiritual dullness in hearing the Word of God preached each week, often is the result from the wrong choices we make during the week. We, too often, are driven along by "the tyranny of the urgent" rather than by our Biblical priorities (Colossians 1:18; Matthew 6:33; Philippians 3:13-15). And the result? Spiritually-dull and religiously guilt-driven lives. This explains why we so often are not changed when we listen to the preached Word! Instead, we allow our culture easier access to our lives in order to train us toward not being good listeners of God's Word. These many "lawful or legitimate" distractions are regularly offered to us by our culture through the plethora of print, digital, and visual media. However, we must discerningly-resist these unsolicited and unprofitable overtures.  Why? Because they negatively-affect our ability to listen to sermons and sadly create within us, a man-centered, carnal, and my needs-are-not-being-met, type of attitude, while we ourselves are really our problem. Yes, Biblical preaching demands an audience! It demands reciprocal-exchange between the pulpit and the pew! It demands heart and body preparation from BOTH the preacher and the listener … way beforehand! So, the great Baptist preacher C.H. Spurgeon rightly asks, “Which needs more preparation, the sower, or the soil into which the seed is sowed?” … So, away with our hyper-critical, hypocritical, unprepared hearts, which too often come to "get", and not to "give" God the true and acceptable worship He requires (John 4:19-24)! Instead, let us come with our heart-soil thoroughly ready to “…receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save our souls” (James 1:21). That being said, ministers are still fully responsible to prepare their hearts, through serious Bible study and intercessory prayer, in order to feed God's people a banquet every Sunday (2 Timothy 2:15; 4:2-4)! “That the Bible is opposed, is to be expected ...that it is disbelieved, is inevitable ...But, that God’s Word be thought dull, because of poor preaching, is intolerable.”     -- Anon. If this message is heeded by God’s people, then we should expect to see a noticeable increase in a "Luke 19:48" type- of-response to preaching in our churches – as Luke says, “for all the people were hanging on [Christ’s] words” -- Which is  none other than a Christ-honoring attentiveness to the preached-Word. May God help us each day to get the necessary physical rest and exercise, nutrition, meditative Bible-reading and prayer-time we need. And may it also produce within us a desire to un-clutter our minds before we enter God’s house, so that we might be better prepared to receive God’s Word, with His people, on His day (Ecclesiastes 5:1; Revelation 1:10). Let’s be ready tomorrow morning to receive God’s Word!

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