Hearing the Gospel
"Take heed how you hear!" Luke 8:18
The gospel is a message sent from God to man; it is directed to everyone who hears it, and is as much intended for each, as if every man's name were appended to it. No one has therefore a right to say, "I am not interested in it, it does not concern me;" nor can any one be justified in refusing to listen to it. It is sent to all, it is addressed to every creature; and it proves either a savor of life unto life, or a savor of death unto death. Every man is either softened or hardened by the gospel; it always has an effect — but not always the same effect; therefore, "take heed how you hear!"
The gospel should be heard with close attention, for it is the Word of God — and not the word of man.
It should be listened to with deep seriousness; for it speaks of the most solemn and important subjects.
The thoughts should be exercised upon it, for it is deep, and conveys the thoughts of God.
It should be heard with prayer; for as the Holy Spirit alone can unfold and apply it to the heart, so that it shall work effectually — prayer should ascend while we are hearing, that the Holy Spirit would take of the things of Christ and show them unto us.
It should be mixed with faith, or be cordially and heartily believed; it demands our credence, it calls for the confidence of the heart, and should be received with warm affections.
Every one should hear for himself, as though there was no one present but himself to listen to the Word; and should hear as if death was at his back, judgment before his face, and eternity opening in the distance before him.
"Take heed how you hear!" for there are many thoughtless people, who hear the word — but understand it not!
There are many trifling hearers, whom Satan amuses even while they profess to listen to the voice of God!
There are many prayerless hearers, on whom the Word falls as good seed upon a barren rock!
There are many unbelieving hearers — and the Word does not profit them, because they have no faith!
There are many who hear for others, instead of themselves, and imagine that the Word is suited to those around them, forgetting that it is God's message to them!
So many are hardened by the Word, and become twice dead, like trees plucked up by the roots, and dried in the summer's sun.
"Take heed how you hear!" for all is not done when you have heard; you are accountable for the use you make of the Word, and must answer for the use or abuse of it before God. God will not allow any one to trifle with His gospel, slight His mercy, and insult His messages with importunity. He is a jealous God. He will maintain His right. He will avenge His injured grace!
The gospel brings a vast responsibility with it, and places us in very solemn circumstances. It brings God near to us; by it He speaks with us; and we either welcome Him — or say, "Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of your ways."
"Take heed what you hear." Compare it with God's written Word; for many false teachers have gone out into the world." Imitate the noble Bereans, who searched the Scriptures daily, to see if what an Apostle preached corresponded therewith. We are solemnly bound to compare the preacher's message — with God's Word; and receive or reject it, in proportion as it corresponds with or differs from it. We shall be judged by the Word of God; which Word of God, in His kind and gracious providence, has put into our hands, in our own mother tongue.
"Blessed are they who hear the Word of God — and keep it;" who . . .
hide it in their hearts,
write it on their memories,
embrace it with their affections,
and obey it in their lives.
It is a blessing to have an opportunity to hear it;
a greater blessing to have an inclination to embrace it;
but the greatest blessing of all is, to be conformed to it in our hearts and lives.
Such are indeed blessed; for they have . . .
a lamp, to enlighten their darkness;
a map, to mark out their road;
plentiful provision for their souls, and
eternal life in promise and prospect!
Reader, is this blessedness yours? Do you hear the Word of God as a message sent to you from God? Do you hear it regularly, thoughtfully, prayerfully, with faith, for yourself? Do you keep it, in your thoughts, in your affections, in your life?