Whitefield: How To Hear Sermons

George Whitefield once gave a sermon about hearing sermons. His text was Luke 8:18, “Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who had not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.” 

After exhorting his hearers to listen to as many good sermons as they possibly can (translation: don’t skip the Sunday gathering), Whitefield goes on to give 6 helpful and timeless tips on how Christians can listen to sermons in a profitable way (I’ve paraphrased his main points):

1. Desire to Know God’s Word

“…come to hear them, not out of curiosity but from a sincere desire to know and do your duty.”
 
“…prepare your hearts by a humble disposition, to receive with meekness the engrafted word and then it will be a means, under God, to quicken, build up, purify and save your souls.”
2. Pay Attention!
“When God descended on Mount Sinai in terrible majesty, to give unto his people the law, how attentive were they to his servant Moses? And if they were so earnest to hear the thunderings and threatenings of the law, shall not we be as solicitous to hear from the ministers of Christ, the glad tidings of the gospel?”

 

3. Don’t Think Too Lowly of The Preacher
“For could a preacher speak with the tongue of men and angels, if his audience was prejudiced against him, he would be but as sounding brass, or tinkling cymbal.”
 
“Though we should even hear a person teaching others to do what he has not learned himself, yet that is no sufficient reason for rejecting his doctrine. For ministers speak not in their own but in Christ’s name.”

4. Don’t Think Too Highly of The Preacher
 
“And are not all ministers sent forth to be ministering ambassadors to those who shall be heirs of salvation?”
…popularity and applause cannot but be exceedingly dangerous, even to a rightly informed mind. And must necessarily fill any thinking man with a holy jealousy, lest he should take that honor to himself which is due only to God, who alone qualifies him for his ministerial labors and from whom alone every good and perfect gift cometh.”
 
5. Apply What You Hear to Your Own Heart
 
“…we are apt to wander too much abroad; always looking at the mote which is in our neighbor’s eye, rather than at the beam which is in our own.”

 

6. Pray, Pray again, Then Pray Some More
 
“If you would receive blessing from the Lord, when you hear his word preached pray to him, both before, in, and after every sermon, to endue the minister with power to speak and to grant you a will and ability to put in practice what he shall show from the book of God to be your duty.”
Excerpts from the sermon Directions How to Hear Sermons in The Sermons of George Whitfield, Volume 1.

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