“On Your Mark”
Hearing the Word (Chapter 4 Verses 1-20)
The first response (v15). And remember, the word is actually heard. Until there is an encounter with the preached word, Satan is totally disinterested, completely at ease. Therefore, he is quite happy with Churches that do not preach the gospel. He would have no problem with an insular Church that never touches the outside world. The word is heard and in comes Satan with his many different wiles (2Corinthians 2.11) in order to destroy, or take away the seed. Perhaps to a pricked conscience, he would more than hint that the case has been exaggerated? The anxious soul just awakened by the word of God to the deadliness of sin, or the wrath of God due to our iniquity (Deuteronomy 9.14; Matthew 3.7; John 3.36). They would perhaps receive more than a suggestion that these are antiquated concepts, which belong to the days of Noah. But not for today. In many Christian minds, and in their Churches today, how the word has been snatched away by modern views and notions of the Bible. Well yes, it does contain the word of God. But when Paul speaks, well of course that is just Paul, not the Lord. No! It is the Word of God in its entirety, from beginning to end, every single word of it (2Timothy 3.16; John 10.35). And relevant in our and every generation.
The next response (v16-17), is one of joy, but there is a basic, a root problem right from the beginning. The result is, when pressure is applied by the world, persecution, because of allegiance to the word, these hearers are offended. They are trapped, because underneath the shallow performance, was hidden a heart that was stony, rock-like, the seed could never survive. The third response (v18- 19), is equally unproductive. In this case the worries of life (Matthew 6.25; Matthew 6.28; Luke 12.22; Luke 12.26), the deceitfulness of wealth (1Timothy 6.6-10), cause the damage. Those illusive riches which promise so much satisfaction, but in the end their promises prove to be empty (Mark 10.24-25). The seed is choked. But inevitably there must be a harvest (v20). It produces different yields in different hearts, but fruit there is. But the question we are posed with ultimately is, what are we doing with the hearing of God’s word? Is it producing the good fruit of repentance (Matthew 3.8), and faith in us (Colossians 2.7), in an ongoing sense? It is through the means of this word that God desires to change us (Hebrews 4.12), and to bring about his purpose for our lives (Romans 8.29). What hinders the word of God working in you? Some say we need better preachers today, no we don’t, we need better hearers.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)