Have you ever considered how thrilling it is that we belong to a speaking God? From the first "And God spoke" of Genesis, to the last chapter in Revelation, God speaks.
If we belonged to a mute deity, the act of listening would not be important. But we don't. Our God speaks and that makes our listening a significant responsibility.
In last week's podcast, Take Care How You Read, we focused on getting the most out of the books we read. This week, we discuss how to get the most out of sermons we hear.
There are multiple types of listening. In Take Care How You Listen, Dr. John Snyder and Matthew Robinson focus on the two most basic: listening that does not hear, and listening that does hear.
There is spiritual deafness of varying degrees in every church. It begins small. John illustrates by saying that we may be in a conversation and believe we heard every word of it. But we didn't. There were important parts we missed, but because we couldn't hear them, we didn't realize it.
This progresses until, by the kindness of God, we become aware we are missing large chunks of spiritual conversations. When that happens, we can respond with realizing the problem is with us. Our ears are clogged, our hearts are hard, and we need to plow the soil of our souls. Or we can respond by saying the preacher is mumbling and doesn't preach the way he used to. The deafness and hardness of our hearts will only compound until we come to God in humility and repentance.
The second type of listening John and Matthew discuss is of a soul yearning to hear and apply the Word of God.
This listener approaches Scripture and preaching with respect and humility, coming to God as a beloved child to a parent. If your child came to you asking for an apple, would you refuse? Would you say no to something healthy and beneficial to your child? In the same way, when we come to God asking to know Him more deeply and intimately, as a result of sitting under a sermon, He will grant those requests.
Whitefield's directions for getting the most out of sermons.
George Whitefield, a man considered by many to be the greatest English-speaking preacher, was used by God in the United Kingdom and America during the First Great Awakening.
He preached hundreds of sermons to tens of thousands of people. Sadly, the vast majority of his writings have been lost. However, one of the sermons preserved for us is his directions for getting the most out of a sermon. John and Matthew discuss each of his six points in the Supporter Appreciation Episode.
Below are all of Whitefield's six points:
- Come to hear, not out of curiosity, but from a sincere desire to know and do your duty.
- Give diligent heed to the things that are spoken from the Word of God.
- Do not entertain even the least prejudice against the minister.
- Be careful not to depend too much on a preacher, or think more highly of him than you ought to think.
- Make particular application to your own hearts of everything that has been delivered.
- Pray to the Lord before, during, and after every sermon.
You can read the Whitefield's notes here.
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1 Thessalonians 2:13
1 Corinthians 1:21
For a careful treatment of the statement, “The Preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God,” see Ronald S. Baines, "PRAEDICATIO VERBI DEI EST VERBUM DEI: — Heinrich Bullinger and The Second Helvetic Confession" parts one and two.
Supporter Apreciation Episode Resources:
1 Thessalonians 1:5