Hearing God's Word - Part 1
The easiest of the discipline related to adsorption of God’s Word is simply hearing it. Why consider this a discipline? Be if don’t discipline ourselves to hear God’s Word regularly, we may only hear it accidentally, just when we feel like it, or we may never hear it at all. For most of us, disciplining ourselves to hear God’s Word means developing the practice of steadfastly attending a New Testament church where the Word of God is faithfully preached.
Jesus once said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28). Merely listening to God-inspired words is not the point. The purpose of all methods of Bible absorption is obedience to what God says and the development of Christ-likeness. But the method Jesus encourages in this verse is hearing God’s Word.
Another passage emphasizing the importance of hearing is Romans 10:17: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” This doesn’t mean that a person can come to faith in Christ only by hearing Scripture, for multitudes have become believers as Jonathan Edwards did, through reading the Bible. Still this verse concerns itself with hearing. We may add, however, that most who, like Edwards, were converted while reading Scripture are also like him in that they heard the proclamation of God’s Word prior to conversion. Furthermore, whereas this passage teaches that initial faith in Christ comes from hearing the inspired Word about Jesus Christ, it’s also true for Christians that much of the faith that we need for day-to-day living comes from hearing the Bible’s message.
One other text worthy of note on this subject is 1 Timothy 4:13. There the Apostle Paul instructs his young protégé in the ministry: “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” Though a lot more explanation could be given, it’s enough to say that it was important in the ministry of Paul and important to the Lord, who inspired these words, for God’s people to hear God’s Word Since this is so, it should become a disciplined priority for us to hear it.
A brief word is in order here about preparing ourselves to hear the Word of God. If you enter the typical evangelical church two minutes before the start of worship service, it sounds almost like you’ve walked into a gymnasium two minutes before a basketball game. Part of my pastoral heart appreciates the good things represented by people who are glad to see and talk with each other. There is a spirit of family reunion in the air when the family of God gathers together. But I think a larger part of my heart longs for reverence and a spirit of seeking God among those who come to hear His Word.
It is a practice of Korean Christians upon entering the church to bow their head for several moments of prayer to prepare themselves for worship. They do this before arranging their belongings, unbuttoning their coat, or acknowledging the presence of anyone else. This served as an effective reminder to their own hearts and to everyone else of their main purpose for that time.
One the English Puritans, Jeremiah Burroughs wrote in 1648 the following words of counsel regarding preparation for the discipline of hearing God’s Word:
First, when you come to hear the Word, if you would sanctify God’s name, you must possess your souls with what it is you are going to hear. That is, what you are going to hear is the Word of God . . .Therefore you find that the apostle, writing to the Thessalonians, gives them the reason why the Word did them so much good as it did; it was because they did hear it as the Word of God. “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of man but as what it really is, the Word of God” 1 Thessalonians 2:13