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Honiton Evangelical Congregational Church November

Dear Friends,

Thinking about listening to God’s word

When I preach each week I remind myself that my responsibility is to deliver the truth of God’s word to God’s people. I say ‘deliver’ purposely – God’s word is given to us and my task is simply to pass on its truth as accurately as I can. Illustrations, stories, sermon outlines are all to serve the task of getting God’s word from the printed page, through my mind, heart and lips into your ears, minds and hearts.

I have particularly been thinking about this as we come to the end of our sermon series on John’s gospel.  We began on 7th May 2017 and forty-four sermons later we come to the final sermon. I have found riches in this part of God’s word which I hadn’t seen before. I have performed my task conscientiously and (of course) imperfectly.

For you – how have you heard God’s word? I want to make some suggestions which may be helpful to you as frequent listeners! Do ponder these and take them to heart.

Firstly: Listen critically. God’s word of course is above our criticism but preachers are not. The Berean Jews give an example of right hearing of the preaching of God’s word (Acts 17: 11), ‘they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.’ Check what I and other preachers say against the Bible – is what we say accurate and does it reflect the priorities of God’s word?

Secondly: Listen eagerly. I am not afraid of a right critical spirit but it is easy to have a wrong one. Your judgements about sermons you hear will be greatly helped if you ‘receive the word with all eagerness’. These are (John 6: 68), ‘the words of eternal life’ which God has given us out of pure grace. And there is eternal life and forgiveness of sins available nowhere else.

Thirdly: Don’t miss the main point. It is a great help when a Bible book tells us why it is written. John 20: 30 & 31), ‘Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.’ Whatever you may have learnt in John’s Gospel you have totally missed out on God’s intention if you have failed to see Jesus’ status as Messiah and eternal Son of God and have not put your trust in him as he is revealed in his greatness in this gospel. If you have seen this and trusted him you have eternal life with him forever but not to respond as God wishes is to reject the eternal life held out to you in the gospel.

An old hymn tells us what our prayer should be when we hear the gospel:

Pass me not, O gentle Saviour,
Hear my humble cry;
While on others Thou art calling,
Do not pass me by.

How I long each one of us should heed the Saviour’s call.

Yours in the Lord, Mike