‘Take heed therefore how ye hear’, Luke 8. 18.
In every generation, God has His messengers. In Old Testament times, preachers like Noah declared the righteousness of God to an antediluvian audience, and a multitude of prophets, including Moses and on down the centuries, to the peak of God’s human mouth-pieces, declared, ‘Thus saith the Lord’.1 God, who will not fail in this regard, still provides His people with those who sow the precious seed – the gifts of evangelists and teachers, provided by divine, sovereign grace, to serve His people in local churches.
In our day, there might be the temptation to resort to thinking that the problem amongst the people of God is down to a paucity of good preachers and teachers. But God still has His messengers, and He will not fail to provide what is needed for His work. Rather than a lack of gift, might it be that where low levels of spiritual health exist among the people of God the cause lies much closer to home? Might it lie in our individual, personal attitude to what we hear?
In this simple, yet profound parable of the sower, the Lord issues a warning, which, if we see as an application solely in terms of an individual’s response to the ‘gospel’, we avoid an uncomfortable truth which the Lord is reminding His disciples about.
What we hear is, of course, to be guarded. The seed is the word of God, and we should take note of that above everything; this sacred tome must be proclaimed, expounded and perused. It, and it alone, is the touchstone for all that honours the Lord, and the mere opinion of any individual must never usurp it, Rev. 22. 18, 19. In our generation, it does seem ironic that while we are blessed to have greater access than ever before to what the word says, we may have abandoned the equally important issue of how we hear. To draw on, but paraphrase, the wisdom of an old preacher, ‘to the arranging of, and attendance at meetings, there can be no end’, but how futile and fruitless it is to have the word nigh us, and not to allow it to challenge and change us!
The people in the Lord’s day had gathered out of every city to hear Him, but He knew that for many, they would simply be hearers and not doers. Which will we be? The same preacher of old, would remind us of the conclusion he came to as to the whole duty of man – ‘Fear God, and keep his commandments’, Eccles. 12. 13.
As we launch in on another year in His will, maybe we can examine how we hear the word.
We would wish to thank those who have, with a genuine desire to encourage and challenge our interest in the scriptures, expended significant efforts in writing for us. We, with them pray, that the word of God will be heard.