Below are the “Ten Commandments” of hearing the preaching of Gods word, originally outlined by Thomas Watson and here summarized by Joel Beeke and Ray Lanning in the book Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible.
1. When you come to God’s house to hear His Word, do not forget to prepare your soul with prayer.
2. Come with a holy appetite for the Word (1 Peter 2:2). A good appetite promotes good digestion.
3. Come with a tender, teachable heart (2 Chron. 13:7), asking, “Lord, what wilt thou have me do?” (Acts 9:6). It is foolish to expect a blessing if you come with a hardened, worldly-minded heart.
4. Be attentive to the Word preached. In Luke 19:48, we are told that the people “were very attentive” to Christ. Literally translated, the text says, “they hung upon him, hearing.” Lydia evidenced a heart opened by the Lord when she “attended” or “turned her mind” to the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14). Such attentiveness also involves banishing wandering thoughts, dullness of mind, and drowsiness (Matt. 13:25). Regard the sermon as it truly is – a matter of life and death (Deut. 32:47).
5. “Receive with meekness the engrafted word” (James 1:21). Meekness involves a submissive frame of heart – “a willingness to hear the counsels and reproofs of the word.” Through meekness, the Word is “engrafted” into the soul and produces “the sweet fruit of righteousness.”
6. Mingle the preached Word with faith: “The word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith” (Heb. 4:2). Roland H. Bainton, summing up Luther’s view, wrote: “Faith is not an achievement, it is a gift. Yet it comes only through the hearing and study of the Word.” If the chief ingredient of a medicine is missing, the medicine will not be effective; so be sure not to leave out the chief ingredient, faith, as you listen to a sermon. Believe and apply the Word. Put on Christ as He is preached (Rom. 13:14); apply the promises as they are spoken.
7. Strive to retain and pray over what you have heard. Don’t let the sermon run through your mind like water through a sieve (Heb. 2:1). “Our memories should be like the chest of the ark, where the law was put.” As Joseph Alleine advised, “Come from your knees to the sermon, and come from the sermon to your knees.”
8. Practice what you have heard. “Live out” the sermons you hear. Hearing that does not reform your life will never save your soul. Doers of the Word are the best hearers. Of what value is a mind filled with knowledge when not matched with a fruitful life?
9. Beg God to accompany His Word with the effectual blessing of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44). Without the Spirit, the medicine of the Word may be swallowed, but it will not result in healing.
10. Familiarize yourself with what you have heard. When you come home, speak to your loved ones about the sermon in an edifying manner: “My tongue shall speak of they word” (Ps. 119:172). Remember each sermon as if it will be the last you ever hear, for that may be the case.
Words have purpose. When words are used either frequently and/or in the wrong settings, they tend to lose that purpose and all meaning associated with them. An observable example of this is when we call customer service centers for support; they’ve told people to “Please hold, we will be right with you” so many times, that “be right with you” can mean anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes. Or think about how often we use words like “literally,” “starving,” or “explode.” “I’m literally going to explode from starvation if…”
No, you’re not.
In a similar fashion, today’s evangelical ghetto has lost its understanding of the word “salvation.” We often speak of “salvation” as equatable to our justification, that is, being “saved” and now in a right standing before God because of the work and sacrifice of Christ. The problem is, these two words are not equatable. Salvation does not simply mean justification or “saved.” It means so much more. We will only truly understand salvation when we understand all of who Christ is and all that belongs to him.
Our justification is only one part of our salvation. Some have spoken of this as not only understanding what we are saved from but what we are saved to. When we are justified before God we become united to his Son by faith. When this happens, we become not only partakers in his righteousness and justification, but in his inheritance as a son, in his likeness as we become progressively more like Christ, and eventually in his resurrection body when we receive our own in glorification.
These aspects are often spoken of as the benefits of Christ. Counter-intuitively and counter-culturally one of these benefits is becoming a partaker and sharing in Christ’s sufferings. The Apostle Paul explains this well in his epistle to the Philippians:
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law … and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. – Phil. 4:8-11
When we become united to Christ in faith, we become partakers in his sufferings. One aspect of this portion is gaining the above mentioned benefits which Christ earned as a result of his sufferings and death.
The other aspect is that we ourselves will suffer (Phil. 1:19), and it is an honor to do so.
In his time here on earth, Jesus himself promised that we will have trouble in this life (John 16:33). Because they first hated him, they will hate us also (John 15:18). One guaranteed sign that you are part of Christ’s elect is that you have or are suffering in this life. It is promised to us.
What this means is that just as our Savior and Lord was beaten and bruised to a bleeding pulp, so too can we expect this life to bruise us and beat us until we think we can take no more. And, when we feel like giving up, we remember that he has overcome the world and there is a prize far greater than we can imagine being kept for us in heaven (1 Pet. 1:4). We may want to tap out, but we remember that when Christ suffered and died, death itself sucked in innocent blood. When it did so, it ingested poison; death died. So we run the race, we persevere until the very end, seeking after the one who has gifted us with sharing in his sufferings.
Then, on that day this bruised and beaten body will finally be taken home and we will see him face to face. We will see his scars and wounds (Rev 5:6) and we will say, out of supreme worship and adoration, “Your scars are beautiful.”
Then – and only then – will our sufferings finally and truly make sense.
Whence knowest thou thy misery?
Out of the Law of God.
As you consider this new film, remember that we have been here before. Remember that there are a lot of people hoping to make a lot of money from this film. Remember that God promises to bless the preaching of his Word, not the display of that Word on the silver screen. Don’t expect a movie to do the Word’s work.
For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back: sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no real woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover: no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself…. And it is not only the faculty of love which is thus sterilized, forced back on itself, but also the faculty of imagination.
And I don’t think reading your blog is helping with that. Whether I agree with you or not, all you do is make me mad. And what’s worse is, you’re funny and charming while you do it. You make me like being mad. And I don’t want to like being mad.
So, I feel terrible for doing this. But I’m breaking it off, before we get too serious.
And while this stool is hurling through the air towards the minister, Jenny Geddes is said to have called out, “The devil cause you colic in the stomach, false thief! Dare you speak the Mass in my ear?” Well, like I said, this is one of my favorite stories in church history. Wouldn’t you love to meet Jenny Geddes? They say there is a sculpture of the stool that she would have sat on there in St Giles’ as a memorial to her.
You see, when you admit your limits, you’re a humble and restful person. You’re humble enough to admit weakness, always open to learning. And you’re restful, because you know that control is in the hands of God – and not yours.
Have you ever tried honeysuckle? Man when I was a kid I used to love tasting honeysuckle. If you’re not familiar with the plant, it is essentially a small white or yellow flower that produces small amounts of edible nectar that can be pulled out and eaten. Each individual flower hardly provides enough satisfaction, and so as kids it wasn’t uncommon for us to sit by honeysuckle bushes and eat nectar for 10, maybe 15 minutes at a time. It wasn’t that we thought it was real honey or anything, but it was tangible and reminded us of what the real thing was like. Each taste only left us longing for more.
Isn’t that what its like for us now in our communion with Christ? There are some days that go by where everything I do, whether its in prayer, reading the scriptures, sharing my faith with others, engaging in Christian fellowship and worship, participating in the church gathered; everything I do just leaves me longing for more. Experiencing the grace of God is so satisfying and never lacking. I just can’t get enough.
Other days are quite the opposite.
Some days feel more like a desert than sitting near a provision of his grace. There are some weeks where it feels so long since I’ve had just a drop – a small drop – of anything even remotely satisfying or quenching that I’m left desperate even for one microscopic taste of grace. Oh how I would desire just a taste! Oh God on those days would you just grant me one small drop of your grace again? Do not keep your presence far from me! As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God! My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Psalm 42:1-2)!
And this is his kindness toward us, that when we feel ourselves distant and in a drought, God is eager to once again lavish on us the taste of his goodness and grace. His Spirit cries out from within us, “taste and see that the Lord is good!” For those who are in Christ, God promises a river of living water (John 7:38) and bread that will never leave us hungry (John 6:35). Like the Israelites who ate manna in the wilderness, so too does God give us means of grace to nourish us on our pilgrimage.
There is a tension now in the reality of this life. As we look forward to the day when our cup will never be empty and our plates will always be full, in this life God has given us his means of grace to nourish and satisfy us. Every moment in prayer, every moment in the word, every moment gathered with the church, every time we partake in the Holy Communion is as if grasping for small tastes of something sweet and nourishing. Satisfied yet never full; delighted and always longing for more. Mere drops of what is to come with the flowing, endless rivers of joy, peace, love and grace.