Hearing the Word of God


In reference to hearing the word, Paul writes these words in Romans 10.13-17: 

Romans 10.13-17:  "For 'whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!'  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our report?'  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

Let’s break this passage down and see what the apostle Paul is saying. 

In verse 13 Paul writes, “For, ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”  This passage begins with the assertion that salvation comes to those who call on the name of the Lord.  Actually, Paul is quoting the prophet Joel which is found in Joel 2.32.  

In verses 14,15, Paul asks four rhetorical questions.

  1. “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?”  If salvation comes to those who call on the name of the Lord, how can you call on the Lord if you don’t believe in the Lord.
  2. "And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?”  You cannot call on the name of the Lord if you don’t believe in Him.  And you can’t believe in Him if you have never heard of Him.
  3. "And how shall they hear without a preacher?”  You can’t call on the name of the Lord unless you first believe in Him.  You can’t believe in Him if you have never heard about Him.  You can’t hear about Him if no one comes and tells me about Him. 
  4. "And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” 

The salvation of your soul is dependent on hearing the gospel by someone coming to you to tell you about the Lord so that you can believe in Him and thus call on His name.  That makes those who preach the gospel extremely important.  Therefore, he goes on to say in verse 15, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things”

In verse 16, the apostle Paul continues, “But all have not obeyed the gospel.”  Salvation comes when someone tells others about the Lord.  They believe what they hear about the Lord, and they call on the name of the Lord.  However, there are some who have not obeyed the gospel.  In the mind of Paul, calling on the name of the Lord and obeying the gospel meant the same thing. 

In verse 17, we have the conclusion to this entire thought.  “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”   This passage emphasizes the importance of hearing the word of God.  You cannot call on the name of the Lord and thus obey the gospel without hearing the word.

  • You cannot have faith without hearing the word.  
  • You cannot confess without hearing the world.  
  • You cannot be baptized without hearing the word.  

Hearing the word of God which tells you about the Lord and how to call on Him is essential for salvation.



Hearing the Word and the Parable of the Sower

We find the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 beginning at verse 3:

Matthew 13.3-9:  “Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: ‘Behold, a sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.  Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth.  But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.  But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear!'"

Jesus then explains what the parable means in Matthew 13 beginning at verse 18.  

Matthew 13.18-23:  "Therefore hear the parable of the sower:  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.  But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;  yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.  Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.  But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." 

In this parable there is a phrase that is repeated several times and I have put it in bold to make it stand out.  Over and over Jesus talks about hearing the word.  Just by looking at the text, what do you suppose the parable is about?  It is clearly about hearing the word.   

Introduction to the Parable

Jesus found Himself in conflict with the Pharisees and Scribes, the religious leaders of that day.  In the previous chapter (Matt. 12), they were constantly trying to discredit Him. 

  • The Pharisees accused Jesus of allowing His disciples to violate the Sabbath day.  
  • The Pharisees plotted to kill Jesus because He healed a man in the temple.  
  • The Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan.  

All of this is because the scribes and the Pharisees did not want to believe that Jesus was the Christ.  These were people who were not willing to hear what the prophets said about Jesus.  They were not willing to listen to what Jesus was saying.  They would not interested in hearing the word.  That’s the background of the parable of the sower.    

We all hear things about Jesus differently. 

  • You may be a faithful New Testament Christian and are very interested in hearing the word because you want to know more about what Jesus has to say.
  • You may not be a Christian, and you are very interested in hearing the word because you want to know more about becoming a Christian.
  • There are some who will hear the word because they are skeptics and are looking for reasons to mock the word and reject it.  
  • There are some who will hear the word but read it as a good story rather than a life-changing message.

As the parable begins, Jesus says in Matthew 13.18,19“Therefore hear the parable of the sower:  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom…”  In this context Jesus is referring to the word of the kingdom.  In the Bible, any reference to the kingdom is a reference to one of two things. 

  1. Heaven as the dwelling place of God and final home of the saved. Peter referred to the kingdom when he wrote that “an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  (2 Pet. 1.11)
  2. The church.  In reference our becoming a member of the church, Paul wrote, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love”  (Col. 1.13).

Jesus was preaching about the coming of the kingdom.  He was preaching about the coming establishment of the church.  The word of the kingdom refers to anything that pertains to getting into the church, maintaining your relationship with God in the church, or you might say that it refers to anything pertaining to becoming a Christian and being a Christian.  This makes hearing the word of the kingdom take on a much broader application.

Jesus presents four ways in which people hear the word.


Four Ways You Might Hear the Word

1.  Hearing the word for some is like seed falling by the wayside.

Matthew 13.19:  “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.”

The wayside was a hard packed walkway.  In Palestine, a garden was very different than what we have now.  Typically, a garden is a plot of land, usually a rectangle, and you till the ground and you kneel down and plant your seeds in rows. 

In Palestine during the days of Jesus, sowers would have their plot of land, and they would have these walkways made of compacted dirt from which they would sow seeds. 

As they would toss seeds out into the cultivated ground from the wayside (walkway), some of the scattered seeds would fall on the the wayside itself.  Because the wayside was compacted dirt, the seeds could not penetrate the ground.  Instead, the birds would come snatch the seeds up.

This is what happens to some who are hearing the word.  They listen to the Bible with hard and stubborn hearts.  

  • They will not hear what the Bible says about the plan of salvation because they have their preconceived ideas of what they think is right.
  • They will not hear what the Bible says about the church because they have hardened their hearts with their own version of the truth.
  • They will not hear what the Bible says about morality, so they will go from church to church, preacher to preacher, until they find someone who will tell them what they want to hear.  In 2 Timothy 4.3,4, Paul described them like this:  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”


2.  Hearing the Word for some is like seed falling on stony places.

Matthew 13.20,21:  “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;  yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”

There are some people who, upon hearing the word, are receptive to the gospel.  They hear it with joy, and they act on the commandments of God and become Christians.  They take their new found faith and they begin living it.

Suddenly they realize that it is not so easy.  They are excited about this message of hope and they take it to the world and the world is not interested.  In fact, they may even mock him for it.  They become a Christian and immediately they are at war with the world and with Satan as the prince of this world.  They begin to feel the pressure and persecution because of the world.

There are people who were once faithful members of the Lord’s church who will now no longer walk into an assembly of the Lord’s people, who have abandoned the whole concept of God and Christ and are living according to the way of the world, all because they could not handle the difficulties and challenges of being a Christian.  They just could not hold up under the pressure that comes from remaining faithful to Bible based principles.

Are you a Christian?  How strong of a Christian are you?  Have you ever compromised what you believe because it was too difficult to stay true to what was right? 


3.  Hearing the Word for some is like seed falling among the thorns.

Matthew 13.22:  “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”

The “cares of this world” refers to problems.  However, these problems are different than the tribulation and persecution mentioned in verse 21.  Those problems came as a direct result of the word.  Those problems involved persecution that came from the world who was opposed to what the Bible says.  The cares of this word in verse 22 refer to problems in general.

Life is hard.  Problems are going to come.  Too often Christians who were once faithful will allow the problems of life to pull them away from God.  When problems arise, it is our Bible based faith and trust in God that will be the only thing that gets us through.

The “deceitfulness of riches” refer to having a love of money.  Whether it is the pursuit of money or the possession of money, there are some who put their trust in money instead of God.  They will say that they don’t need God anymore.  They have all that they need in their bank account or my portfolio.  So they either become lazy in their responsibilities toward God or they give them up entirely.

There are some who hear the word, but will allow the world to literally choke the Bible’s teachings out of their heart.


4.  Hearing the Word for some is like seed falling on good ground.

Matthew 13.23:  “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Some hear the word with an honest heart.  Is this not the way we all ought to be when hearing the word?  We must read our Bibles with an honest heart.  Be honest with ourselves.  Let it craft our character.

When we read our bibles we need to make sure that we are listening well.  How well do you listen? 

  • Do you hear the word with a hardened heart so that it cannot penetrate?  
  • Are you being pressured away from the word by persecution?  
  • Are the cares of this world, riches, and the pleasures of life causing you to abandon the word?  
  • I hope that you hear the word with a good and honest heart, so that you are challenged by what the Bible says.  

If you are not a Christian, I hope that you have listened with a good and honest heart and being honest with yourself see your need for the blood of Jesus. 



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