01 August, 2005

Thou Hast the Words of Eternal Life.

WHAT SHOULD BE THE ATTITUDE of the Christian sitting under the preaching of the Word? This is a question that at first thought is categorized as a "no brainer". You say, well we should listen and we should be respectful. Yes, but..

When we are in worship, we should not have the attitude that it is JUST your minister in the pulpit giving HIS OPINION of what the Bible says. This has never been the confessionally Reformed stance on preaching. It has always been richer and fuller in biblical understanding.

The Reformed position has always been that the Word being preached is Christ speaking to His church. This view takes the position that preaching is the ongoing pastoral care of Jesus Christ for his sheep. The Puritans spoke of preaching in terms of the art of prophesying.

When we come to the worship with the attitude that Christ is speaking to US, we are less apt to have criticism of style as well as less prone to have the "well, I would have said..." attitude. We need to listen attentively and say, "What is Christ saying to me?" "What does Christ have for our church?" This approach will help us in our Christian walk and will help us to see preaching for what it is: Christ's care for His sheep. His sheep hear His voice.

When the worship service has come to competion the Christian hearer should attempt to have an outline prepared in his or her head for the sake of defending the text. The hearer should also be willing to have a Barean spirit and search the scriptures for conformation of the truth spoken. We should also speak of the sermon with our family and our fellow worshippers so that we are able to retain the most out of the Word.

This should be an encouragment to all of us who are the followers of Jesus Christ, giving us a sense of urgency to sit at the feet of Christ to learn of Him.

This should be a reminder to us who are heads of households (and singles, you are heads of your homes as well!) that we need to ruminate over the Scriptures and their meanings with those in our care.

This should instill a sense of fear and trembling in the hearts of the those who preach (or attain to preaching) the Word. You are speaking on behalf of Christ. You are giving the words of life. Are you dilligent in the preparation of sermons and in the meditation for application?

Let us all come boldly to the throne room of Grace that we main attain mercy.

The Westminster Larger Catechism

Q. 160. What is required of those that hear the Word preached?

A. It is required of those that 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.

Proverbs 8:34. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
1 Peter 2:1-2. Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.
Luke 8:18. Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.
Psalm 119:18. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
Acts 17:11. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
1 Thessalonians 2:13. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
Proverbs 2:1. My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee.
Luke 8:15. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
James 1:25. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.


Janna said...

Great post, Nate. It's so easy to forget that we are called to humbly place ourselves under the preaching of God's Word, being open to instruction and rebike. It's far easier to critique the style of the delivery (yum-yum! Roast pastor!).

Janna said...

Ahem*rebuke*ahem - sorry

Gisela said...

Thanks Nathan for your posts. I enjoy your writings. It is easy to fall into "routine" on Sundays, go to church, sing some songs, hear a sermon, pray....and not have one's heart in it. What a refreshing little blogbit.
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P.S. What cute kids you have!
www.nathanandlydiaeshelman.blogspot.com HEEHEE

Mark said...

Good points, all in all. Listening is not a virtue common in mankind, generally because we don't want to hear what's being said.

Julio said...

How wonderful to see the confessional Reformed (and indeed, historic Christian) understanding of this matter articulated so well and so succintly! The Preaching of the Word is Christ speaking to you--how simple, yet how life-giving.

The bastardization of Preaching in our day is yet another symptom of the lack of concern for doctrine that afflicts the Christian world. People have simply ceased to look at such fundamentally important matters "from Christian point of view", as Kierkegaard was wont to say, and fancy themselves the (utilitarian) judges of The Ancient Way. And indeed, how much easier it is to stand in judgment of the Preaching of the Word, than to stand judged by It!

Anyway, thanks for this.

notliberal said...

What did you just say? Anyway, good post.

Jeff said...

Unfortunately, too many ministers are preaching from the book of Anthony Robbins. Maybe they received so many criticisms of their style and choice of topic that 7 Steps to Success replaced the Bible in order to placate the congregation. Too bad. Good post though. We should always approach worship and preaching with a teachable spirit. The berean example in Acts should spur us on..."in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."