There is some danger in a pastor recommending guidelines on how to listen to a sermon. Is he trying to avoid criticism or, worse, setting an agenda for the congregation to follow? I believe these are valid concerns but not so weighty that they should overthrow good counsel from a godly Puritan!
The following statements were originally written by Christopher Love (1618-1651). Pastor Shane Lems of the Sunnyside URC posted these “seven practical directions for listening to the preaching of the gospel”.
1) Take heed that you hear the Word of God preparedly. As the preacher must take care to find acceptable words, so the people should labor to bring acceptable affections to the work – when we come to the service of God we should hear with all attention and pray with affection.
2) Hear the Word attentively, as those did in Acts 8.6. Those who hear the Word with gazing eyes, wandering thoughts, and sleepy bodies cannot hear it attentively, but are to be reproved.
3) Hear the Word of God retentively. Labor to keep in your memory what you hear, that you may put it into practice for your life. Hearing is for practice’s sake. This also has to do with treasuring the Word, so it will have a continual impression upon your hearts.
4) Hear the Word understandingly. Christ called the multitude and bade them hear and understand. This is what the Bereans did.
5) Hear the Word applicatively. If a patient has never such excellent counsel given him, never so powerful a medicine prescribed, if he does not apply it, it will do him no more good than if he had never known it.
6) Hear the Word of God reverentially. Many people represent God to themselves in such familiar notions that they ultimately breed a contempt of God which we ought not to have. We must demean ourselves with a humble reverence in His presence.
7) Hear the Word of God obediently. Come…ready, prepared, and disposed to stoop and submit to all the instructions, corrections, and reproofs of the Word of God, like those spoken of in Acts 10.33.
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