I have read many books on how to teach God’s Word and have many more on my to-read list in the near future. One day when I was looking for another resource to help me teach better I came across a book on how to listen to Bible teaching better. And I couldn’t click to the next page. I was froze. A book on how to listen to preaching better. That is something I had never heard of before. And I had to have the book and read it. The book is titled Expository Listening by Ken Ramey and here is my review of this wonderful, helpful, important book.
In the introduction Ramey hits on something that I had never thought about - how often the Bible speaks about listening. If you are like me you think of all of the commands the Bible makes about getting up from my chair and do something, not sit in my chair and listen. What I have failed to realize is that listening is an action as much as helping the poor. Here is what Ramey says about this:
From cover to cover, the Bible is jam-packed with verses and passages that talk about the vital necessity of hearing and obeying God’s Word. God is very concerned about how preachers preach. But based on the sheer amount of biblical references to hearing and listening, it is unmistakable that God is just as, if not more, concerned about how listeners listen.
Something I mention often in my teaching and preaching is that when we stand before God we will give an account for all that we have said (Matthew 12:36) and done (Hebrews 4:13) but what I never thought about was giving an account for all of the sermons I have heard.
And at the end of your life you will stand before God and give an account for every sermon you heard. On that day, God will essentially ask you, “How has your life changed as a result of the thousands of times you have heard my Word preached?”
That is a staggering reality. We will give an account of how we allowed the sermons we heard to transform our lives. I won’t ever listen to another sermon the same way again.
Ramey, in the chapter on how to prepare beforehand to hear a sermon, says that we should Come to church with a spirit of anticipation, fully expecting God to speak to you through His Word in ways that will make a lasting difference in your life.
Of course only listening to God’s Word does nothing for you (James 1:22). The quote I gave earlier on standing before God and giving an account on how we listened to His Word taught implies that we must put what we hear into practice for that is how we will be judged on our listening, our doing what we have heard preached.
At the end of the book is a section I will turn to often titled “A Quick-Reference Guide for Listeners.” It is a summary of the vital truths found in this book.
If you have problems listening to sermons, if you find yourself distracted, not remembering what you were taught, then this book is for you. If you are a Bible teacher like me, get this book so you can know what God expects from our teaching. If you love to hear sermons, this book will encourage you and possibly point out some areas that you can improve your listening.