Listening to the Word of Christ
Listening well to the preaching of God’s Word is foundational to spiritual growth and discipleship. Indeed, sanctification is not unrelated to how attentive we are to the faithful proclamation of the Scriptures (c.f. II Pet. 1:19-21; Jn. 17:17). The inspired Apostle reminds us that saving faith is created by and nourished upon the Word as it preached: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). In Luke’s gospel we hear the voice of our heavenly Father joyfully and proudly declaring from the cloud, “This is my Son, my Chosen One, listen to him!” (Lk 9:35). Listening to the inspired, inerrant, infallible, authoritative, efficacious, and all-sufficient Word of God –– the Word of Christ –– is essential to saving faith and Christian discipleship. Therefore, it is vital that we consider what it means to be good listeners to the proclamation of God’s Word.
The first way to listen well is through godly preparation. We cannot expect to listen well to the preaching of God’s Word without tilling the soil of our hearts and minds during the week. Through daily personal Bible reading and regular family devotions, we foster a better spiritual frame and become more attentive to the preaching of God’s truth on the Lord’s Day. On the other hand, if we haven’t opened his Word or spent much time in prayer Monday through Saturday, we become spiritually dull, and listening on Sunday is proven difficult. Being a good listener on Sunday entails abiding in Christ during the week. Preparation also entails getting a good night’s sleep on Saturday night, as well as not allowing the Lord’s Day to become cluttered with myriad errands and activities. Listening well takes preparation.
The second way to listen well to the preaching of God’s Word is with an open Bible. Sadly, few Christians bring their Bible to church anymore. One reason for this is that preaching, in many places, has become man-centered, trite, and superficial. It demands very little of the congregation, and does little by way of serious biblical exposition. With many modern day sermons constituted of the preacher’s personal anecdotes, cultural analysis, and therapeutic solutions, the Word of God becomes a footnote in the message. Thus, many churchgoers find it unnecessary to carry their Bible to worship on the Lord’s Day.
At Christ Church, however, we are committed to careful, biblical, verse-by-verse exposition of the whole counsel of God (c.f. Acts 20:27; 2 Tim. 3:16). We are unapologetically dedicated to serious exegesis and bold preaching through entire books of the Bible, leaving no biblical stone unturned. We are devoted to heralding all of Scripture. Therefore, if you are not doing so already, bring your Bible to church. Have your kids bring their Bibles to church. Leave your cell phone and its infinite distractions in your pocket or purse, and open your Bible. Follow along in the biblical text being discussed, explained, and applied by the minister. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to be diligent students of His Word, not passive observers. So let’s be active listeners, and let’s hear those pages turning in Lord’s Day worship! Bringing your Bible to worship will undoubtedly help you better listen to the voice of your Savior in His written Word.
The third way to listen well to the preaching of God’s Word is by taking notes. Over the years many have expressed to me how note taking helps them to concentrate and focus during the sermon–– especially if they are not used to forty-five minute expositions! Moreover, if you take a few notes you can look back at them later and better digest what you’ve heard.
Christ Church, these are three simple ways that we can all become better listeners to the preaching of God’s Word. Since “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ,” let us renew our commitment to be good listeners to the life-giving, life-transforming Word of God.