Author: Ron Graham
Hearing the Gospel
—The first step
Christians are committed to preach God’s word to people. But those people are responsible to hear and receive God’s word. What is God’s wish as to how people should listen to his word, the gospel, and receive it?
To answer that question, we will look at three good Bible examples. Notice in each passage both the good attitude and action. There is a right attitude to have, and a right action to take, in receiving God’s word.
1 The example of the Thessalonians (1Thessalonians 2:13)
In spite of opposition from Thessalonica, there were people there who received the word. Paul thanked God for them, because they received the word "accepting it not as the word of men, but as it was, in truth, the word of God", which worked in those who believed.
It had to be the word of God that the Thessalonians received. They rejected the word of men. In this respect, the Thessalonians were hard to please. But they were not impossible to please.
They did not dismiss the preacher’s every word with “that's just your interpretation; that's just what you say.” When it was in fact the word of God, they accepted it.
Their minds were open wide enough to accept God’s word, but they were narrow minded enough to reject what was only the word of men. They obeyed God’s word, and it worked in them.
2 The Example of the Bereans (Acts 17:11)
These had a better attitude than those in Thessalonica. They "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily" to see whether the preaching was true.
Two things stand out in this passage. In Thessalonica, certain Jews opposed the word of God, even to the extent of following Paul to Berea to stir up trouble for him there. But in Berea, the Jews received the word with all readiness of mind. Think about that "readiness of mind".
- They did not have to be bribed or pushed into receiving the word of God. They were ready and eager to be taught.
- They were willing to be humble and lay aside any prejudice.
- They were watchful to see that what was promoted as the word of God was indeed his word.
- They knew enough of the Scriptures so that they could search them to test what was preached.
- They were willing to believe and obey what turned out to be God’s word.
If only there were more people with that sort of readiness!
3 The Example of the First Converts (Acts 2:41)
In Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost, three thousand people who "gladly received the word were baptized".
Notice their attitude. They "gladly received" God's word. They welcomed it.
But also notice, in this example, the action they took. They "were baptized". People who receive God’s word, receive baptism. People who reject baptism reject God's word.
“Receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).
1. What is necessary in hearing and receiving God’s word? (Honesty, Humility, Heeding, or all three of those?)
2. Who were 'more noble' in hearing God's word? (The Beareans, the Thessalonians, or were both equally noble?)
3. In this lesson we studied three examples of hearing God’s word. What did the hearers need to have? (A right attitude in listening, a right action in response, or both of those?
4. Which of the following did the Bereans show in receiving God’s word? (Eagerness, Examining, Obedience, or all three of those things?)
5. What should we hear and receive? (Whatever the preacher says, whatever we like to hear, whatever is truly God’s word?)