If you’re reading this, you’ve likely logged a lot of hours listening to sermons.
Can you explain why you do this?
Our postmodern contemporaries have a pretty fair lead on the anthropological truth behind our listening: Human beings are hearers. And having tapped into this reality, they are all about keeping the discussion going. That’s why there is a 24-hour news cycle, talk radio, presidential debates and an endless array of podcasts.
Human beings are hearers who want to tune in.
But as you may have noticed already, the informative ear candy listed above often offers little in the area of absolute truth. Most won’t touch it with a 49-and-a-half-foot pole. This is where preaching stands in the gap.
We aren’t just born to hear endless prattle, we are born to hear the very words of God. And the purpose of the preached Word of God is to declare truth and demand that you follow it. The greatest hearing you can ever do is listen to the voice of the Christian preacher because he is the prophet placed at the epicenter of our generation.
The role of the Old Testament prophets was fulfilled in Christ the prophet. But Christ the prophet is no longer present in bodily form, so that role is now charged to the biblical preacher. Under the New Covenant, Christ governs His people by the written Word preached by preachers.
This truth directly addresses our saunter into the Saturday or Sunday service. We aren’t showing up for a Bible study or a discussion. This isn’t a debate or a democracy. It’s a theocracy. And the King’s chosen mouthpiece is His preacher. You will listen to him.
Hearing the preached Word indicates listening (The Priority of Preaching). This is something much different than reading. When you read, you control the pace, the page and, to a point, the interpretation. No such room exsists when you listen to an oral event.
Under the Old Covenant, God’s people submitted to Him by listening to His prophets deliver His decrees. We who are under the New Covenant submit to Christ by listening to His preacher expound and recall for us the promises of God.
It is in our listening that we model submission to God. Preaching is the vehicle God has chosen to communicate His will and Word. It is nothing less than the message God has for you (see Rom. 10:14-17). Those who argue against absolute truth will likely not care for preaching (even those of us who believe in absolute truth will wrestle with the preached Word as it grates against our flesh). This is nothing new. The Lord tells us in 2 Timothy that these final days will produce those who refuse to endure or submit to sound teaching.
But a heart changed by God sits in eager anticipation of and astonishment at the Word of God preached. We view preaching as a solemn occasion (I use solemn in the classical sense, an occasion of great emotional weight and restrained joy) because God is speaking directly to us through the preacher of His Word. As such, we long to hear the revelation of God delivered boldly.
Listen expectantly to the preached Word. Be sober and consider what God is telling you. Pray for your preacher. As you enter the worship center, say with Cornelius, “Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us” (Acts 10:33).