How Can We Become Better Listeners to Sermons?

“When Paul preached in Berea, Luke describes their response this way: ‘They received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so’ (Acts 17:11).

“There is a duty to preach well and there is a duty to listen well. For this reason, I sometimes pray publicly before the sermon the words found in the collection of the martyr Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) for the second Sunday of Advent:

Blessed Lord, which hast caused all holy Scripture to be written for our learning: grant us that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them; that by patience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our savior, Jesus Christ.

“To rightly read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest, we must be good listeners. ..Nothing is more encouraging to a preacher than to see all eyes looking in his direction and a stillness in which one can hear the proverbial pin drop.

“How can we become better listeners to sermons? Allow me to make some suggestions.

“Listen with an expectation that God is addressing you. He will be teaching you and correcting you. Peter exhorts preachers in the early church to preach with authority: ‘Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God’ (1 Peter 4:11). Equally, listeners should listen in a manner that suggests God is speaking through this sermon. ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears” (1 Samuel 3:9-10).

Listen intelligently. The Bereans checked whether what was said was in accord with their general understanding of the rest of Scripture. That does not imply an overly critical spirit. Rather, it suggests a mind that is active, concentrating on what is being said, following the thought process from one sentence to the next. It is helps, take notes for consideration again at a later time. Most importantly, listen to see if what is being said actually comes out of the text.

Listen for the ‘so what’ aspect of the sermon. As James exhorts, ‘Be doers of the word, and not hearers only’ (James 1:22). Remember that Jesus warns of those who hear the Word but immediately forget it. The seed sown in good soil ‘are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience’ (Luke 8:15).”

Taken from the new book by Derek W. H. Thomas, Let Us Worship: Why We Worship the Way We Do (Ligonier Ministries, 2021), pp.58-59.

As we prepare the hear God’s Word proclaimed again tomorrow, may we have that humble and diligent spirit of the Bereans – eager to listen and careful to digest.

Published in: on July 9, 2022 at 10:11 PM  Leave a Comment