Listening to Sermons? So What?

Here are two helpful warnings from J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) on listening to sermons, a kind of listening that according to him is “utterly worthless”:

sermon

There are thousands who listen regularly to the preaching of the Gospel, and admire it while they listen. They do not dispute the truth of what they hear. They even feel a kind of intellectual pleasure in hearing a good and powerful sermon. But their religion never goes beyond this point. Their sermon-hearing does not prevent them living a life of thoughtlessness, worldliness and sin.  Let us often examine ourselves on this important point. Let us see what practical effect is produced on our hearts and lives by the preaching which we profess we like. Does it lead us to true repentance towards God, and lively faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ? Does it excite us to weekly efforts to cease from sin, and to resist the devil? These are the fruits which sermons ought to produce, if they are really doing us good. Without such fruit, a mere barren admiration is utterly worthless. It is no proof of grace. It will save no soul. (Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke, page 79)

Let us beware of despising preaching. In every age of the Church, it has been God’s principal instrument for the awakening of sinners and the edifying of saints. The days when there has been little or no preaching have been days when there has been little or no good done in the Church. Let us hear sermons in a prayerful and reverent frame of mind, and remember that they are the principal engines which Christ himself employed, when he was upon earth. Not least, let us pray daily for a continual supply of faithful preachers of God’s word. According to the state of the pulpit will always be the state of a congregation and of a Church. (Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke, page 86)


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