How to Listen to Sermons, Part 2
Christopher Ash, the director of Cornhill Training Course in London, England, has a special interest in seeing preaching done well. His work involves training next generation leaders in the church, and making sure they are well equipped to preach is a priority of his. (In fact, he wrote a fine book called The Priority of Preaching.)
Ash is also concerned that the church knows what to do while sitting under the preaching of God’s word. To that end, we continue our look at the seven points from his booklet, Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons.
Sorry to keep you in suspense for so long. We return to what I began in yesterday’s post. Now that you’re (1) expecting God to speak, (2) admitting that God knows better than you, and (3) checking up on the biblical foundation of the message you’re hearing . . .
4. Hear the sermon in church.
We live in an age when it’s easy to listen to sermons without ever setting foot in a church. That is a blessing and help to many people. But don’t fall into the trap of drifting away from the communion of the saints. We need the encouragement of others and the accountability of community. Downloading a sermon onto your iPod does not give you pass on obeying Hebrews 10:24-25!
Not only that, but the Internet gives us access to vast numbers of dynamic preachers to suit every taste. Be edified if you choose, but know that they are not the ones who “are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account” (Heb 10:17). That happens in the local church.
5. Be there week by week.
Ash makes a great point here. If we come to every sermon with a bless-me-if-you-can attitude, resolving to be unsatisfied if we don’t walk out with a ready-made application for Monday morning, we’re not being teachable. What you think you need to hear may not be what God has planned for you!
Sermons are not instant fixes for what ails us. They are part of a long-term treatment regiment driving us toward spiritual maturity.
6. Do what the Bible says.
Obvious, yes, but do we do it? Obeying the Bible takes us in two directions: faith and action. Some texts point us to specific actions we need to take–ironically, these are often the hardest to hear. Others direct us in what we should believe. Thinking in a particular way about God, yourself, the world, or sin may not seem like “application,” but it is a matter of obedience just the same.
7. Do what the Bible says today – and rejoice!
“That was a nice sermon . . . ,” is usually the first step to forgetting it and neglecting the blessing God extends. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7-8). The ready response to God’s Spirit is a joyful thing!
What do you think? Is there anything else that helps you get the most out of sermons?