New Horizons

Helps for Worship #29: The Sermon (Part 3)

William Shishko

Take heed how you hear. (Luke 8:18)

In preaching, Christ the King speaks to us and changes us by his Word and Spirit. As we keep in mind the exalted place of preaching, and what we are to listen for in preaching, we must not forget that how we hear the Word of God preached is of eternal importance. James 1:22–25 warns us:

Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

The Westminster Larger Catechism (Q. 160) gives a helpful summary of how we are meant to hear the preaching of God's Word:

Q. What is required of those who hear the Word preached?

A. It is required of those who hear the Word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation, and prayer; examine what they hear by the Scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the Word of God; meditate, and confer of it; hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives.

For Reflection

  1. Have you taken seriously that you are deceiving yourself if you simply listen to sermons and do not actually obey what Christ tells you in those sermons?
  2. How do you prepare yourself to receive the preaching of the Word?
  3. What do you learn about Christ from sermons? Are you called to believe in him as your Savior and Lord? How?
  4. How much do you pray for upcoming preaching? Are you quicker to criticize preaching than to pray for it?
  5. Do you receive the preaching of the Word with a love for the truth that is given in it? See 2 Thessalonians 2:10.
  6. How do you meditate on the sermons that are preached to you each week?
  7. Do you discuss the sermons afterwards, or do you forget them and act as if you never heard them?
  8. In specific ways, how do you bring forth the fruit of preaching in your life and in your family's life?
  9. How can you change to better "take heed how I hear" the Word of God?

The author is pastor of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Franklin Square, New York. He quotes the NKJV. Reprinted from New Horizons, May 2008. First article in series. Index.

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