Another Puritan nugget on the subject of, well, hearing the word with profit:-
1. What is meant by ‘the word’?
It is the word of God, as written in Scripture, or (here) as preached by Christ’s ministers, 2 Tim 4:2. Examples of preaching the word: Christ, Lk 4:17ff; 24:27; Peter, Acts 2:14ff; Paul, Acts 28:23. See also Neh 8:7f; Acts 13:15; 15:1; 1 Tim 4:13.
2. What does it mean to ‘profit from the word’?
We profit from the word, when we gain a spiritual advantage from it, as God intended. God appointed that by his word we should be:-
(a) Instructed, 1 Cor 14:31; Col 1:7; Phil 4:9.
(b) Converted, Acts 26:18; Lk 1:16.
The word accomplishes this by
(i) exposing sin, 1 Cor 14:24f; Mt 3:9;
(ii) bringing people to confession of sin, Mt 3:6; Acts 19:18; working a sorrow for sin, Acts 2:37; Neh 8:9; Jer 3:21; (iv) working amendment and reformation, 1 Thess 1:9; Col 1:5f.
(c) Built up, Acts 20:32; 18:23,27; 1 Tim 4:6.
(d) Comforted, 1 Cor 14:31; Acts 8:5,8; 16:32,34. The word does this as it reveals: God’s attributes, such as mercy, wisdom, faithfulness, and power; Christ, and the promises and privileges of the saints; the marks and characters of God’s children; answers to the doubts and fears of saints.
3. How shall we profit by hearing the word?
How shall we obtain the benefit for which the word was appointed?
(a) Hear it attentively. Christ calls his hearers to “listen”, Mk 4:2f. Cf Lk 19:48; Acts 8:6; 10:33; 13:16; 16:14; Rev 2:7. Attend particularly to the Scripture itself as it is read and explained; to those words which speak to your own personal condition; and to those things which the preacher declares with special warmth and fervency.
Attention can be hindered by,
(i) wandering thoughts, be they filthy thoughts, thoughts about what people are wearing, or thoughts about one’s worldly business and calling;
(ii) drowsiness, which ill-becomes a professing Christian.
(b) Hear and receive it with humility. So this verse. Don’t be angry with the word, Jer 26:8f; Mt 15:12; Acts 5:33. See also 2 Chron 16:7-10, which shows that men are most angry with the word which,
(i) reveals their sins, and challenges their consciences;
(ii) reproaches them for their sins;
(iii) threatens them for their sins.
What people are most likely to be angry with the word? –
(i) those who are great in the world, Lk 19:47;
(ii) the proud, Jer 43:1f;
(iii) the guilty, Lk 16:13f.
4. Hear the word with a good and honest heart, Lk 8:15
The heart should be
(a) understanding, Mk 7:14,18; Mt 13:51;
(b) believing, Mk 1:15; 2 Chron 20:20, paying particular attention to the threatenings, Jon 3:5, and the promises, Ex 4:31, of the word;
(c) loving, 1 Pet 2:2; Psa 119:140,167, etc.
5. Keep it, Lk 8:15
‘Hold fast to it’; don’t let it slip away, 1 Thess 5:21. Also Lk 4:42; 1 Cor 15:2. Cf Mk 4:15; Mt 13:19; Lk 8:12. As the seed must be able to germinate in the soil, so the word in the heart.
How shall we keep the word? –
(a) repeat it in your families, Acts 17:11;
(b) talk of it as you go from hearing, Lk 24:32; Acts 27:29; pray that the Lord would preserve the word in your hearts, 2 Tim 1:14; 1 Chron 29:18.
(Based on ‘How we may hear the word with profit’, by Thomas Senior, Sermon vii in Puritan Sermons, Vol 2, 47-57)