Archive for January, 2012

Review of “Expository Listening”

January 31, 2012

Expository Listening
©2010 by Ken Ramey
Published by Kress Biblical Resources
127 pages

About fourteen years ago I quit listening to preaching. That’s when I became the pastor of Community Bible Church. I became the preacher instead of the listener. I don’t know if hearing myself while preaching counts as listening. I do listen to the recording of my Sunday sermon on Monday. However it is more embarrassment than edification. Of course I do listen to recordings of other people preach, but seldom do I get to hear a “live” sermon.

How many sermons have you listened to over the span of your life? How many do you actually remember? How many made a difference? Ken Ramey wants to make your sermon listening a more interactive and life changing experience. In his book Expository Listening he writes there “is no telling the dynamic impact the Spirit of God will make through the Word of God any time someone who faithfully explains and applies God’s Word comes in contact with someone who faithfully listens to and obeys God’s Word” (p 4). So how does one faithfully listen and obey?

He begins with a theology of listening. When a man is faithfully preaching the Word of God it is actually the voice of God being heard. This is why listening plays such a dominant role throughout the Bible. He sums up what the Scripture teaches with four theological statements (p 11).
1. God has spoken and commands us to listen and obey what He has said.
2. We all fail to listen to and obey God and deserve to be punished by Him.
3. God grants us the ability to listen to and obey Him by His Holy Spirit, whom we receive through faith in Jesus Christ.
4. God promises to bless us now and for all eternity if we listen to and obey Him.

In his third chapter Ramey gives us his suggestions on being the best listener possible. “When the preacher does his part and you do your part, God’s Spirit will effectively use His Word to accomplish His purposes in your life” (p 37). These are:

  • Read and Meditate on God’s Word Every Day
  • Pray throughout the week
  • Confess your sin
  • Reduce your media intake
  • Plan ahead, and schedule your week around the ministry of the word
  • Be consistent in church attendance
  • Go to church with a humble, teachable, expectant heart
  • Worship with all your heart
  • Fight off distractions
  • Listen with diligent discernment

Of course he explains how each of these are put into practice.

Ramey moves from discussing listening to obeying. The sermon isn’t over when the pastor closes in prayer. “There is an inseparable relationship in the Bible between listening and obeying” (p 95). Many do not realize is that “the sermon actually starts when it is over” (p 97). “Once you hear a sermon the ball is in your court” (p 85).

As would be expected each chapter ends with questions for personal application. There is also a handy “quick reference guide” in the back.

I highly recommend this book. For a briefer instruction guide (30 pages) I recommend Listen Up! A practical guide to listening to sermons by Christopher Ash.