Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 13, 1955

"Take Heed How Ye Hear"

James P. Needham, Haynesville, Louisiana

The Bible, especially the New Testament, emphasizes the necessity of man's hearing the Word of God. When Christ gave the Great Commission he said, "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel . . ." (Mark 16:16.) The gospel was and is to be preached that men might hear. The importance of hearing is emphasized again by the fact that God has made the preaching of the gospel the PRIMARY mission of his church. According to Paul in Ephesians 3:10 the CHURCH is duty bound to "make known the manifold wisdom of God." But in spite of the importance of the subject of hearing, men are exceedingly careless with reference to it. It shall be our purpose in this article to study some scriptural teaching with reference to the subject of hearing the gospel.

Take Heed That Ye Hear

The indifference of men toward hearing the gospel is amazing! It is not unusual for gospel preachers to conduct meetings in thickly populated communities and have to preach to a very small fraction of the people that live in them. This condition seems to get worse as the years come and go. It hasn't been long since people would flock to open air, and brush arbor meetings to hear the gospel of Christ. It seemed that the felt it a part of the business of life to hear the Word of God. It is a different story now, however. All over the world the gospel is preached next door to people who never hear it. These people will one day stand before God in judgment and give an account, not only for what they know, but for what they could have known. We must take heed THAT we hear!

Take Heed Whom Ye Hear It is not sufficient to hear just anyone. We must hear the one whom God has sent. That naturally brings up the problem of how to identify the man sent of God. This is easy for those who study their Bibles. John said, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1.) Spirits, or teachers, are to be tried by the word of God. John, in this same chapter the sixth verse, tells us how to detect the spirit of truth and the spirit of error: "We are of God; he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth and the spirit of' error." No man refuses to hear the words of the apostles, which are written down in the New Testament, should be regarded as one sent of God; to such an one we must not listen.

This excludes many teachers of our day who are esteemed as faithful teachers of the Law of God. Many are anxious to hear the so-called revelations of Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Ellen G. White or some other supposed prophet. All of these refuse to hear the words of the apostles and must be identified with the "spirit of error" as mentioned by John. Others are zealous for the 'voice of "Moses and the Prophets," the "still small voice" of a dramatic dream or a fantastic vision. While God has, in the past, spoken through these mediums He does not use them today. This is proven by the first verses of the Hebrew epistle. The writer says, "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past to the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. (Heb. 1;1,2.)

This verse tells us then, that God's speaking in divers manners was for "times past, but that His speaking "by his son is for us in "these days. Other verses reveal the same thought, such as Acts 3:22,23; Matthew 17:1-5 and Revelation 3:21. It is highly important, then, that we be absolutely certain that the one to whom we listen is sent of God, that he speaks the words of God faithfully. Take heed WHOM ye hear.

Take Heed What Ye Hear

This admonition was given to the disciples by the Lord in Mark 4:24. We must not be like the Athenians who "spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing. (Acts 17:21.) We must make sure that WHAT we hear is the ancient Gospel, not a modern theory. What is true in religion is not new, and what is new is not true! We MUST take heed WHAT we hear! The spirit of our day is that of extreme gullibility. People, like little birds, will swallow without question, anything their preacher has to say. We must be aroused to the spirit of investigation if we are to be safe in religion.

The necessity of taking heed WHAT we hear is seen when we realize that we develop our faith from what we hear. (Rom. 10: 17.) Faith is based upon testimony, if the testimony be wrong, the faith is wrong. It is again emphasized when we note that through his preachers (2 Cor. 11:15) and churches (Rev. 2:9) Satan, "As a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8.) The very air we breathe is literally filled, and overflowing with his false doctrine. We must be careful lest we hear it. False doctrine is destructive to the soul of man; it doesn't lead to heaven — if it did the world would have been saved long ago! Take heed WHAT ye hear.

Take Heed To What Ye Hear

The Hebrew writer admonishes thus, "Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest HEED TO the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." (Heb. 2:1.) One of the great besetting sins of the human race is a failure to take heed TO what is heard, even when the truthfulness of it is freely admitted. Men deceive themselves by unwittingly leading themselves to believe that hearing the gospel is sufficient. James says. "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, DECEIVING YOUR OWN SELVES. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deeds." (James 1;22-25.) Jesus compared the man who hears and does not to a FOOL. (Matt. 7;26.) It's a very serious matter to refuse or fail to obey the gospel once we have heard it. To delay our obedience is to harden the heart (Heb. 3:15), and sear the conscience. (1 Tim. 4:2.) There is no time like the present to obey the gospel. (2 Cor. 6:2.) We have not time but the present; yesterday is gone never to return again, and we have no promise of tomorrow; that leaves us today only. Take heed TO what ye hear.

Take Heed How Ye Hear

The Lord enjoined this upon his disciples in Luke 8:18. It has to do with the disposition we make of what we hear — our attitude toward it. The Bible reveals many ways of hearing. There was the lawyer in Luke 10:25 who heard the truth with NO INTENTION of doing it. Felix heard the truth with the intention of doing it later, Acts 24:24,25. He pushed his obedience to the gospel out in the future to a "more convenient season" which never came. History records that two years later he was banished to Gaul, not France, where he died a miserable wretch. From his day until now "a more convenient season" has been the theme song of thousands of lost souls. Then there is the prejudiced hearer, Matthew 13;15; 2 Thessalonians 2:10,11. He hears the gospel, knows it is the truth, but is determined to die and go to hell before he obeys it. Too, there is the "glad" hearer, Mark 5:16. He is searching for the truth, and when he finds it, he hears it with "gladness." And there are those who hear profitably, Hebrews 4:2. These are those who hear the gospel, and who mix their hearing with faith — they believe the gospel — they obey the gospel. This is the kind of hearing that pleases God. What kind of a hearer are you? Take heed HOW ye hear!