Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hearing the Word

In Romans 10: 17 Paul says, "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." In our highly literate society, where reading is prized above all else (it seems), we've forgotten how to listen to the word. We do word studies, read commentaries, and some of us learn to study the Scriptures in Greek and Hebrew. We read and analyze the text ad infinitum. But do we hear the text? Can listening to the Bible bring insights that reading may overlook due to mental/input familiarity? I wonder.

So this year I'm not reading my Bible through. I'm hearing my Bible through. Some time back we bought the entire Bible on CD-ROM in the NIV. Now, I know that for serious study the NIV is not the best version to use. I prefer something more literal, like the New American Standard Bible or the English Standard Version; however, I don't have either of those in audio edition, and I've not worked through the NIV in several years. So I'm listening to the Scriptures every day. I'm getting some Old Testament and some New Testament. Right now, as might be expected, I'm working through Genesis and Matthew.

Here are my initial thoughts. The Bible was originally intended to be heard. In the days in which the biblical writers were living most people couldn't read and access to written materials was limited due to the expense involved in producing them. For thousands of years God's people listened as a handful of learned people read the text or recite it from memory. Listening to the Bible is a discipline that has to be learned. You don't just pick it up. I'm finding that in our day learning just to sit and listen takes a lot of effort. But this morning as I listened to the Sermon on the Mount I noticed things I'd never noticed before. Chapter 5: 1--20 is a kind of prologue to the rest of the message, and introduction if you will. The rest of chapter five is "stitched" together by means of the phrase "You have heard" (NASB). These become the connecting seams that hold that section together. In reading I never noticed that. It took hearing the text for me recognize the connecting flow of the Sermon at this point.

Try listening to the Bible and see what God shows you. You might find it challenging at first, but I thing you'll find it reward in the end.


  1. Thank you so much for your insights and for sharing of your experience. It is good to be encouraged in the right pathway.

  2. I went to mostly listening to the Word on CD a couple of years ago. Just hearing it made it different, and brought out the contexts.