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British preacher and theologian J. I. Packer has written, "We complain today that ministers do not know how to preach; but is it not equally true that our congregations do not know how to hear.” I am convinced that Packer is right on both points. Pulpits are glutted today with preachers who at least apparently, don’t know how to preach and pews are filled every week with people who don’t know how to hear what is being preached.

Many sit under the preaching of pastors who faithfully preach God’s Word, but they don’t listen as they should, do not receive the truth as they should and consequently don’t apply the truth in and to their lives as they should. These are those who are “Ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7).

To all seven of the churches of Asia addressed in Revelation 2 and 3 Jesus said, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Obviously, not everyone had an ear to hear the truth then, and the fact is that not everyone sitting in churches have an ear to hear the truth now. Why? Because they neither apprehend, appreciate or apply to their lives the Word of God that is preached to them.

Jesus said to His disciples in Mark 11:24, “Take heed what ye hear.” In Luke 8:18 He said, “Take heed therefore how ye hear.” Believers need to pay attention to “what” they are listening to in terms of its truthfulness and they need to pay attention to “how” they listen to preaching in terms of their attitude.

As for preachers, many are preaching who shouldn’t be preaching. Why? Some of them have no calling of God on their lives to preach. These are those of whom God speaks in Jer. 14:14: “I sent them not, neither spake unto them.” Some men shouldn’t be preaching because they aren’t competent to preach, either because of their lack of spiritual preparation or because they’ve never learned the difference between preaching the Word of God and delivering a humanly manufactured talk. These fit into the category of whom God says, “They shall not profit my people at all” (Jer. 23:32).

These preachers that can’t preach and pew-sitters who can’t hear are in churches all over America; churches that would identify themselves as “Bible-believing,” “conservative,” “traditional,” “fundamental,” “old fashioned,” etc., etc. And this situation hasn’t taken place overnight. It has been steadily taking place and getting worse and worse for years. In our day it has taken root to the extent that what would once have been the exception in churches, has now become ver common.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

—John 8:32

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