Preachers have always played an important role in the church, but have you considered the responsibility of the listener? In this episode, Robert reminds us of the important part the audience has in this part of our assemblies together, as well as the importance of the one speaking.

ROBERT >> True worship involves preaching. I’ve been a preacher for many years; but did you know that every Christian is responsible to preach, to tell others about Christ, to help others towards heaven?

And remember, preaching is a two-way street. If our worship is to be acceptable to God, we must be good listeners of the preaching as well, we must take the preaching into our heart and live it out in our lives. What does the Bible say about true worshipers and preaching?

Stay tuned. We’ll be back in just a moment.

SINGING>>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love. ROBERT >> On the last several Sundays we’ve been talking about worship, how that true worshipers worship God in Spirit and in truth. Just last week, we discussed prayer.

And this week we want to talk about another aspect of their worship, preaching.

In Acts 8:4, when the Bible speaks of the church that was scattered by the persecution, it says, They went everywhere preaching the word. Now, this was a unique aspect of the church.

Judaism had something like that in the prophets and afterwards in the readers and the speakers of the synagogues; but preaching had no essential part in the worship of the temple.

In the ministry of Jesus, preaching occupied a central place. In the synagogue at Nazareth he described himself as having been anointed by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to the poor, to preach deliverance to the captives, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, Luke4:16-21.

But according to Luke 8:1, “he went through every city and village preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.”

All the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, give unforgettable pictures of the itinerant preacher in the synagogues, on the mountains, by the seaside, going from village to village, drawing after him almost unbelievably large crowds and amazing the people by his words of grace and the authority of his teaching. His preaching was a cry of urgency.

As John reports, “Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink,” John 7:37.

At the end of Jesus’ ministry, he gave the great commission to his church, which according to Mark was a very simple command, to go everywhere preaching the gospel, Mark 16:15.

In the book of Acts and in the New Testament epistles we have the record and the power of that church preaching. We see the when and the where of their preaching. On the day that the church was established, in response to the first gospel sermon, about three thousand souls were saved according to verse 41 there in Acts chapter 2.
But verse 42 says,“They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.” And in verse 46, as you read on here in Acts 2, they were daily in the temple.
And in verse 47,”The Lord added to the church daily.”

You see, as they went forth teaching and preaching, God was adding saved people to his church. Peter and John were preaching in Acts chapter 3, 4, and 5, and I want you to see what was happening at this time.

In Acts 4:4 the Bible says, “However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to about five thousand.”

God began to add new Christians to his church as his apostles went forth preaching.

And in Acts 5:42 the Bible says,” And daily in the temple, and in every house they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Every day in every house, publicly and privately.”

You see,
with the preaching of the gospel, the church was multiplying in number. Many people were hearing about Christ, they were coming to Christ, and they were being added to the church. And as you look on through the book of Acts, you see how Stephen preached in Acts chapter 7; and when the church was scattered by persecution, how they went everywhere preaching, Acts 8:4.

Philip went preaching in Samaria and also to the Ethiopian who was returning home from Jerusalem in Acts chapter 8. Paul was preaching to the Gentiles in Acts chapter 9. Paul and Silas and Barnabas and John Mark and Luke and all of these were on missionary journeys, and they were confirming and they were strengthening for months, for years at different places, preaching before rulers and from prison.

They were turning the world upside down, according to Acts 17:6. Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos privately in Acts 18:26.

“The gospel was preached to the whole creation under heaven by that church,” Colossians 1:23.

Yes, we see the spirit and the power of that preaching, and how we need to bring that home to the church today. I’m afraid that preaching has become a major part of our assemblies, but not a major part of our lives. We’ve almost limited preaching to a building on Sunday morning. But in the church you read about in the Bible, it was a daily occurrence in the synagogues, in the homes, publicly and privately, at home and abroad, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile. That’s the when and the where of their preaching. But also I want you to notice that preaching and teaching was not just limited to the preacher with a capital P. Consider the who of their preaching. That church went everywhere preaching, we read from Acts 8:4.

The apostles stayed back in Jerusalem, but it was the church, the other members that went out preaching the gospel.

Yes, the apostles and the prophets were preaching and the evangelists were preaching; and the pastors, they were teaching and feeding the churches with the word of God. The deacons were preaching, great servants like Stephen and Philip. There were many teachers among them that were teaching and preaching the word. And the fathers were also involved in this.

In Ephesians 6:4, Paul said, “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.”

We need to bring that teaching and preaching home, and fathers, we need to lead in bringing God’s word to our families in the home.

Older women were involved in teaching and in preaching.

In Titus 2:3-4 they’re described as teachers of good things who admonished the younger women. And so the older are to teach and preach to the younger. In time, every Christian was to be teaching others the word.

Hebrews 5:12, Paul said, “By reason of time, you ought to be teachers.”

Every one of us who know the Lord, who’ve been saved by the gospel of Jesus Christ need to be sharing that with others, telling them about Christ, teaching and preaching God’s word in our home, in our communities, everywhere that we go. When the church comes together, we’re a part of the preaching. You know, we’re to consider one another, to stir up to love and good works, exhorting one another, according to Hebrews 10:24-25.

When you come together, look for opportunities to teach and to encourage with God’s word those in the assembly.

In Acts 20:7, “Now on the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them, and continued his message until midnight.”

Certainly there was some preaching going on in that assembly.

And in 1 Corinthians chapter 14, the church at Corinth was to
usetheir gifts for, Paul says, the edification, exhortation, and comfort of all. But in the assembly there is one caveat. The women were not permitted to speak, that is, to use their gifts, to speak over the men, verse 34 and verse 35.

Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 these very important words, and I want to read them to you today.

1 Timothy 2:11-12, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.”

If we want to be that church that we read about in our Bibles, true worshipers, then we’ll not have women teaching and preaching over men. That’s the when, the where, and the who of preaching.

But now the why of their preaching. You look back in the Bible, and you see that only preaching will save the lost.

Paul said in Romans 1:16, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Yes, the power of preaching is the power of God to salvation.

In Romans 10:17 the Bible says that, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

And so if we want to instill faith in the hearts of others, we must be doing some preaching and some teaching, we must be getting the word out to the people. It’s the word of God that convicts and that melts the hard heart, that changes lives, that leads people to God. And it’s that same word that keeps us who are Christians from sin, that helps us to grow up in our salvation, to mature in our spiritual thinking.

In Psalm 119:11 the psalmist, David, writes these important words about God’s word. He says, “Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

Psalm 119:11 reminds us that we’ve got to put God’s word in our heart. And when God’s word is in our heart, we can battle the struggle of temptation and sin.

Or as James puts it in chapter 1 verse 21 when he tells us, “Receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls.”

Peter, in 1 Peter 2:2-3, reminds us to “earnestly desire the sincere milk of the word as newborn babes, that you may grow thereby unto salvation.”

Yes, we must continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, 2 Peter 3:18. Without the daily nourishment of the word, we become weak spiritually.

As Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, how that the word of God is what feeds us each day, that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

Paul, to the elders at Ephesus, left them with these words in Acts 20:32: “We commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus.”

Yes, it’s the word of God that can get us to heaven. Without that word, then we’ll never make it. But we need to go to God, we need to go to the word of his grace that we might be built up and edified and strengthened spiritually, that we might make it home to God. Preaching is a two-way street. And how well we preach is one thing, but how well we listen is another. And not only how well we preach, but how well we listen will determine whether or not our worship to God is acceptable to him. So I want to encourage us all to be better listeners of God’s word.

I want to give you four practical points as we leave this lesson today. Number one, when you come to the worship, you come prepared to listen. I know it’s early sometime on Sunday mornings, and some come dragging into worship, and they’re tired and they’re drowsy, and some have been working all night. I know it’s hard to stay awake and alert and to concentrate
on the lesson. Somebody wrote, Now I lay me down to sleep, the sermon’s long and subject deep; if he should quit before I wake, somebody give me a little shake. We all sometimes need a little shake, don’t we?

We need to listen carefully and come prepared to listen. Jesus said, “Take heed how ye hear,” Luke 8:18.

Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear,” Revelation chapter 2 and chapter 3, as he closed out each of the letters to the churches.

He was emphasizing the importance of being prepared to hear God’s word. And Luke commended the Bereans in Acts 17:11 with these very important words. Notice what he says here. “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the scripture daily to find out whether these things were so.”

Yes, they were ready, and they were prepared to listen. They had their Bibles in hand, and they were looking up the passages to check it out for themselves. And that’s the way we need to come to worship. Let’s make a special effort to really get involved in the preaching of God’s word. Secondly, listen to benefit. You see, there are great benefits to listening to the word of God.

We’ve already talked about some of them, how that it helps us to grow unto salvation from 1 Peter 2:2-3, and how Paul commended the word of God and his grace to the Ephesian elders so they could get to heaven.

I also like these words that Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. Notice over here in 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 where he writes these words, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe,”1 Thessalonians 2:13.

Yes, receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls. I’m afraid that many miss out on the benefits of God’s word because they don’t come to really listen and to benefit. Many come and are just listening to criticize. It seems that there are some who always find fault with the preacher. His grammar, his mannerisms, his tie, what he left out, what he should have put in his sermon. And I know these things make for a good time at lunch over roast preacher; but we miss out on what the word would have for us to benefit our souls now and for all of eternity. But you know, we also sometimes miss out on the benefits of preaching when we’re thinking about how it applies to everyone else but ourselves.

It’s kind of like the man who went to the pharmacist, and he asked what he could get to stop the hiccups. And the pharmacist hauled off and slaps him in the face, thinking that that would stop them. And the man said, It’s not me, it’s my wife that has the hiccups. I’m afraid that we come to church that way sometimes. We don’t come for ourselves. We come for our wife or we come for somebody else. And we keep looking over there and saying, yeah, I’m really glad the preacher said that, he really needed that; or I’m really glad the preacher said that, she really needed that.

No, let’s learn to listen so that we can each one personally benefit from the hearing of God’s word.

And then thirdly today, listen so not to be offended by the truth. Some people will storm out of a worship right in the middle of a sermon because they didn’t like what was being preached. Others have left and they never return again. Some people will try to run off the preacher.

Why?

Because they didn’t like what they heard. Maybe it was too close to home. Or maybe they just didn’t want to accept what the Bible says. Perhaps you remember John the Baptizer when he was going about preaching, and on one occasion
rebukes King Herod. King Herod didn’t like what he preached. As a result, he arrested him, he put him in prison, and he had his head cut off.

Let me read to you what the Bible says about this in Luke 3:19-20. “ But Herod the Tetrarch, being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, also added this above all, that he shut John up in prison.”

You see, John the Baptizer got too close to home. He started talking about Herod’s wife.

And in Matthew 14, he told him, “it’s not lawful for you to have her.”

Rebuking him about his wife, rebuking him about all the evils he had done, Herod didn’t want to hear it.

So what does Herod do?

Puts him in prison and ultimately has his head cut off.

People still don’t like hearing what the Bible says, especially about things like divorce and remarriage, especially when it affects our own family. Too many had rather attack the messenger instead of accepting the message. Oh, but preachers must preach the truth. Not what is popular, not what is pleasant or agreed upon.

Look back with me in the book of Acts in Acts chapter 20. When the apostle Paul was rehearsing his ministry before the elders there at Ephesus, he makes this statement about his preaching, Acts 20:20,” How I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house.”

Paul wouldn’t keep anything back that they needed to hear. Even if it wasn’t popular, even if they didn’t really want to hear it, he was going to tell them because it was helpful. And we look in verse 27 of this same chapter, he says, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”

That’s how we must preach. We must preach the word. We must preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

The charge to every preacher is found in 2 Timothy chapter 4, to “preach the word, to be instant in season and out of season, always ready to preach, to reprove, to rebuke, to exhort with all longsuffering and teaching.”

For, as Paul said, The time will come when men will not endure sound doctrine. They’re not going to put up with that. But having itching ears, they heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts, and turn away from the truth, turn aside unto fables.

Let me tell you, if the preaching does not disturb your complacency, if it does not prick your conscience and challenge your faith, then you’re either perfect or insensitive, or the preacher is just not doing his job.

Paul warns those who do not receive the love of the truth in 1 Thessalonians 2:9-11, saying, “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

And so when we come to listen, let us listen so not to be offended by the truth. And then finally, listen to obey.

James 1:22-25, listen to what James teaches us here about the worship of preaching and how involved we need to be as listeners of the preaching.

James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he’s like a man observing his natural face in a mirror. For he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

Yes, it’ll do none of us any good to come week after week and hear the sermons to then leave and forget what was said and do nothing about it. All the preaching in
the world is in vain if we do not put into practice the things that we hear. My greatest fear as a preacher is apathy on the part of those who listen. Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 through 7, a masterpiece, the sermon of sermons. And the people were astonished at his teaching according to chapter 7, verse 28. But Jesus did not preach to astonish the people, but to get them to obey. As he concluded his sermon, he tried to persuade the people to respond in obedience, telling them to be like that wise man who hears his word and does what he says, not like the foolish man who hears the word and does not do what he says.

We need to be like that church we read about in the Bible, that church that preached every day, everywhere, every one, to save the lost, to build up the church. And let’s make a special effort to be better listeners of the word. Remember, we’ll be judged someday by the Lord’s word. And he that rejects Me, Jesus says, and receives not My saying has one that judges him; the word that I spake shall judge him in that day.

SINGING>> Each day I’ll do a golden
deed by helping those who are in need.
My life on earth is but a span,
and so I’ll do the best I can.
Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
a few more days,
and I must go to meet the deeds that I have done,
where there will be no setting sun.
To be a child of God each day,
my light must shine along the way.
I’ll sing his praise while ages roll
and try to help some troubled soul.
Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
a few more days,
and I must go to meet the deeds that I have done,
where there will be no setting sun.
While going down life’s weary road,
I’ll try to lift some traveler’s load.
I’ll try to turn the night to day,
make flowers bloom along the way.
Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
a few more days,
and I must go to meet the deeds that I have done
where there will be no setting sun.

ROBERT >> I do hope that you found today’s lesson helpful. And to help you in your continued study, we’d like to offer you a free copy of today’s lesson. Thankfully, members of churches of Christ make these materials available to our viewers absolutely free of charge. And all you have to do is contact us, let us know the name of the program you’d like to have a copy of. You can see the title of today’s program on your screen. Let us know the format which you’d like to have it.

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>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven,
sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary,
when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven,
sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven,
sing the sweetest song of all.

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