The importance of hearing God’s word is emphasized in the Bible. The Apostle Paul wrote: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. It is important to gather together to hear what God wishes to make known to us through his Spirit. But faith does not come unless the Holy Spirit does work in the preacher of the word and in the listener.
A small baby grows in the first months on the mother’s milk alone. The mother’s milk is strong and nourishing. The apostle Peter also compares God’s word to mother’s milk: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (1 Pet. 2:2-3).
What is listening to God’s word?
God manifests himself to all people in his creation work (Rom. 1:19-20), in the phases of nations, in human destiny and conscience (Rom. 2:14-15). Something else is still needed for salvation: God’s special proclamation which is told about in the holy Bible and the message of Jesus Christ preached by the Holy Spirit. The word is Jesus himself (John 1).
Hearing God’s word is to come near to Jesus and hear of him. Jesus lives resurrected as the Lord in the congregation which God’s Holy Spirit has assembled.
The Bible exhorts to listen to the word
Throughout the Bible, the exhortation to hear the word is emphasized. In the writings of the prophets, God calls his people to hear his word. This word includes comfort and a promise of God’s caretaking, but also, often a judgment to those who have left him. In Prophet Isaiah’s book, God comforts his people: “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.” (Isa. 51:1)
Listening to God’s word also includes searching for fellowship from the one and only true God: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deut. 6:4). In the gospels, Jesus often ends his sermons with the cry “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Math. 13:9). The apostle Paul wrote about hearing to the Romans: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17). So hearing God’s word is connected to the proclamation of the word. This is why it is important to gather together to listen to what God wishes to say through his Spirit.
The Holy Spirit brings forth faith
Martin Luther wrote of the work of the Holy Spirit: “For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Ghost through the preaching of the Gospel.” (Large Catechism : Article 3).
Current technology, such as the internet, makes the hearing of God’s word possible even when it would not normally be possible. Sometimes we may be house-bound so that we are not able to gather with the believers.
In beginning Christianity, gathering together had an important place. ”And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple.” (Acts 2:42, 46). When the early congregation had difficult questions, the congregation gathered together to discuss (i.e. Acts 15). Also, we children of God nowadays sometimes need joint discussion occasions.
The Bible exhorts to nurture the fellowship of the congregation. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Heb. 10:25). The believers should always encourage each other to come to the hearing of the word so the connection to the Word – to Christ – would remain and grow.
When I asked my children why it is good to go listen to God’s word, they answered: “So that we would stay in faith and get to heaven!” That is it: that we would one day reach the destination.
Text Markku Kanniainen
Translation A. H.
Published Siionin Lähetyslehti 6/2013
Julkaistu englanninkielisessä kieliliitteessä 11/2014.
Raamatun mukaan jokainen Jumalan valtakunnan jäsen on avoin lähetyskirje omassa toimintaympäristössään (2. Kor. 3:2–3). Tämä asia voi olla kipupiste uskovaiselle ihmiselle, sillä henkilökohtaisesta uskosta puhumiselle on korkea kynnys nyky-yhteiskunnassa.