How do you hear the Word of God? That’s not the beginning to a cheesy riddle or a bad joke; it’s an important question. In Luke 8:18 Jesus gives a sobering warning when He says, “Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” He’s speaking of those who hear the Word of God saying it can be understood, obeyed, and cherished or it can be dismissed and forgotten. How do you hear it?
So that you will be equipped to hear and respond to the Word of God, I want to answer two questions for you. First: Why is the Word of God so important? The second question is: How do I listen to the preaching of God’s Word?
Why is the Word of God so important? The answer to this is simple: God has chosen to reveal Himself through His Word. In the Bible, Jesus is called and is the incarnation of the Word of God (John 1:1). In addition to Himself, God has also given us Holy Scripture as His Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (see also 2 Peter 1:21). In Hebrews 4:12, we learn that, “The Word of God is living and active.” Hebrews 11:3 says that the, “universe was created by the Word of God.” Throughout the Gospel of Luke we have seen Jesus perform miracles and cast out demons simply by speaking. It is even through the Word of God that the new birth comes (1 Peter 1:23). If you know God, it is because of the power of His Word (Romans 10:17).
This is why we are a church saturated with the Word of God. We study it together in groups, carefully select Bible-centered curriculum for children, and spend more than half of our worship service preaching the Word of God. This brings me to the second question: If Jesus warns people to listen carefully, how should we listen to the preaching of God’s Word? I want you to know that I do not write these comments in order to justify myself as the main preacher for our church, but rather, for all of us, if the Word of God is so important, how do we be sure to hear it well and follow its teaching?
If you read 2 Timothy 3:16 and its context, you would see why preaching is so important and, I believe, should be at the heart of our worship together. In 3:16, Paul reminds Timothy that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God,” then Paul says that God gave us Scripture so that, “The man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (3:17). Finally, in view of that, Paul commands Timothy to, “Preach the Word…” (4:2). In other words, here is how the Apostle Paul thinks about preaching: 1) God has given people His Word; 2) so that they may be complete; 3) in order for that to happen most effectively, they must hear it preached.
Hearing the Word of God preached, especially on Sunday mornings, is at the core of what we are commanded to do and in Luke 8:18 Jesus warns us to take great care in how we do it. So that we may all hear well on Sunday mornings, here are a few ways to prepare yourself and your family for the preaching of God’s Word:
- Read the passage we will be studying together on Sunday morning several times during the preceding week. You will find the next three or four preaching passages listed in the bulletin. Meditate on these passages in advance. You might consider choosing a night of the week where you will read it during dinner.
- Listen carefully to the songs we sing and the complimentary Scriptures that are read prior to the sermon. Each of our services are prepared with two themes in mind, one that communicates who God is and another that teaches us how we should live. The themes come from the main passage for preaching. The songs that are sung and other Bible verses that are read are chosen to draw our attention to these themes. This is done to bring unity and clarity to our services.
- Prepare your mind, heart, and body to hear the Word of God. Get a good night of sleep on Saturday night. Lay out clothing (especially for young kids) and gather everything you will need to take to church in the morning so you are not unnecessarily hurried. Consider riding in silence on the way to church, asking God to focus your mind and awaken affection in your heart.
- Enter the sanctuary anticipating and expecting to hear from God. That room is certainly not the only place where God can speak to you, but there is often something helpful about a space set aside for a specific purpose. God will speak during our worship services, because, if nothing else, we will read several passages of Scripture and it is His Word.
I love to preach to our church. I love that God has given me that privilege, but I love so much more that we are a church family that loves to hear the Word of God. That time is not about me or anyone else who is up there. It is about God, His glory, and His goodness in giving us His Word. May we be careful how we hear it.
For the sake of His name,