The Lost Art of Listening

Chapel began with pre-service music by the Seoul Theological University Choir from South Korea. The director of the choir is Hyo Dong Sohn who is a former student here at Southern Seminary. Jon Eliff, Senior Pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church and a graduate of SBTS, brought the Word today in chapel.

Sermon About Listening From Luke 8:4-15

Preaching from Luke 8:4-15, Dr. Eliff challenge everyone to be me more attentive in class as well as in chapel and worship services. He gave us three imperatives as to how to listen well as a student and Christian. First, we are to be mindful of our own wicked and deceitful hearts. The first three soils in the parable describe the non-believer or the non-listener in class. Second, we should be humble because our ability to understand parables is a gift from God. As a matter of fact, any desire you might have at all to want to hear the Word preached is a gift from God. Third, as Christians, we must be diligent. It is obvious he good soil refers to those experiencing true regeneration. Dr. Eliff closed with the following: Do not be something you really are not. He encouraged us to strive to have a listening heart.

If you regularly skip chapel, and you are capable of attending, Pastor Eliff was talking about you. Obviously, if you are providentially hindered from attending, that is one thing. However, I know of at least three people in my immediate circle that normally skip chapel because they want to sleep in or study Greek or Hebrew. It is a shame that more people do not take advantage of the great preaching we have each week at Alumni Chapel.

Download This Sermon

Please listen to Dr. Eliff’s message from 21 February 2008 (as soon as they get it uploaded) here. You can read a more detailed account of today’s sermon here.

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4 Responses to The Lost Art of Listening

  1. Riley Byers says:

    Terry,
    I appreciate the post. I do have one question for you. Can you explain to me why it is so important for students to attend chapel? You can just email me if you want (riley.mac.byers@gmail.com). I was required to attend during my first two semesters because of class, but since then, I have not attended chapel. Sometimes I do have to work, but other times I just need to study, read, or catch up on other things. I don’t really feel guilty about not attending. I have never understood why people think that it is so important. Please forgive my ignorance. I am a very active member of an awesome local church. I hear the Word faithfully preached every week on Sunday morning and Sunday night. I am also being taught the Word in Sunday school and during a Bible study on Wednesday night. If I want to, I can listen to other sermons via the internet several times a week. To me, seminary is what it is, a place to be prepared for ministry. I go to class and then leave. I am never on campus and try to study at coffee shops or other public places. So, if a person is an active member of a local church, has Christian fellowship and accountability in that setting, is being taught and hearing the Word preached in the local church, why is it so important to go to chapel? Seminary is not my church but to many students (maybe not many but some) it is. Some students never leave the seminary, don’t have friends outside of seminary, and don’t make membership in a local church a priority. Maybe chapel is the only place they are hearing the word preached so they should go. Furthermore, I can see how chapel would be very beneficial to many students. For example, young pastors of small churches who never get fed themselves. But should people like me feel guilty for not going?

    Thanks for any insight you can offer. I appreciate you taking the time to write on this topic and for thinking it through. I look forward to hearing from you. God bless.

  2. Josh says:

    I really enjoyed that message (thank you iTunes). This message is one of the finest I’ve heard in a long time. And its like that all the time in chapel? As a regular old church member I’d just say to the seminary students who skip: You just don’t know what you’ve got.

    Josh’s last blog post..Preaching repentance for judgment

  3. Riley,

    I greatly appreciate your heart-felt question and I do not think your question is ignorant. I am going to answer in this public forum in order that others may hoepfully be edified.

    I have many reasons for my conviction that everyone should attend chapel if they are capable. To begin with (and in no particular order), I do believe it is foolish to not take advantage of the exhortations and preaching of God’s Word in the chapel setting because many times, the one bringing the message realizes he is speaking to the “next generation” of preachers.

    As in the case of Dr. Eliff and this particular sermon, there were many instances of his exhorting us to learn from his mistakes. There is much to be said about learning from those that have gone before us.

    Others, like Dr. Yousseff and Dr. Lutzer, and Rev. Miller last semester, simply preach the Word and bring about conviction and comfort in a way that is not found in most churches each Sunday morning. Where else can you hear the likes of these men (or even those who are not as “famous” as these) for free?

    I cannot count the number of times a Tuesday morning message was exactly what I needed that day even though Sunday’s message by my pastor was exactly what I needed for that day. I struggle to see any validity to wanting to study or sleep in when you can sit under some of the greatest preachers of our day. (I am sure that when John Piper was at SBTS there wasn’t a seat to be had. Sadly enough, we seminary students popishly declare who deserves our attendance and who does not).

    Second, I am not sure most of us know the work that goes into finding the men who preach on a weekly basis, but I am sure it is more than we know. I agree that seminary is a place to be prepared for ministry, but it would seem to me that the same effort that goes into the classes goes into the chapel services.

    Third, you lose out on some wonderful worship music. Back on 10 October 2007, we sang “It is Well.” The manner in which Dr. Bolton arranged that song stirred my heart in a way that had never been done. You don’t get the musical aspect of the service unless you are in attendance or watching on local television.

    Fourth, I think it is irresponsible to not want to join your fellow seminarians in corporate worship of God at every opportunity you are offered. I have heard stories of the Puritans attending church services every day. I believe we must cultivate that hunger of God’s Word and worship of God at every opportunity afforded.

    Finally, I believe the more we sit under godly preaching, the more we will discipline our hearts to live the life we should for God. It becomes harder and harder to sin blatantly against God when we are saturating our lives with the preaching, teaching and reading of His Word. I believe that Romans 10:14-17 not only applies to evangelism, but to believers post salvation as well. Obeying hte gospel is more than just repenting once and accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. It is a live of repentance and a life of believing. For this reason, I believe that this passage also applies to the regenerate.

    I should let you know at this point, that I used to skip chapel in my undergrad. The biggest reason for that was that it was man centered and rarely did you hear a gospel message. I believe the campus pastor actually caused a problem when he preached a sermon entitled “God hates the sinner as well as the sin.”

    With that being said, we are attending one of the foremost seminaries in the United States (and perhaps the world), we should make every opportunity to sit under the practical exhortation of God’s Word. It is one thing to attend classes and lectures on preaching, it is something completely different to experience the preaching we are striving to emulate.

    Finally, unless there is a class attendance policy, in no way am I trying to be legalistic about chapel services. I just think that it is in our best interest to so saturate ourselves in the Word of God that those fiery darts of Satan are extinguished before they even strike us. These are simply my convictions and I feel very strongly about them. There is also the simple problem of sheer laziness on many students’ behalf. Those are the ones that really anger me because their attitude is usually one of “I don’t need to hear that” or “He is not worthy of my time.”

    I would caution you that if you do feel guilty, perhaps you need to look at your motivation for not attending. Maybe the spirit is challenging you in this area of your life. If you are feeling guilty because of me, then I would say that your guilt is unfounded. That is for you to discern and not me to tell you. I pray my answer is suitable. I would love to continue the conversation in whatever forum you would like. God bless, brother.

    For His glory,

    Terry Delaney

    Terry Delaney’s last blog post..Sleep, Glorious Sleep!

  4. Josh,

    Sorry, I got wrapped up in answering Riley’s question. As for it being “this way all the time in chapel” I have actually said in other places that the worst chapel messages I have heard have been from Dr. Mohler and that is only because of the style in which he is preaching due to his preaching through the Apostle’s Creed.

    That is not to say that his have been horrible. It does mean that we regularly have top notch preaching on a week-to-week basis. You should check out last semester’s sermons (esp. Lutzer, Yousseff, Price, and Hill) and be blessed all over.

    Also, I did blog most of the chapel messages last semester as well. If you would be interested in checking those out, go to diary of a seminary student and click on “chapel services” on the lower right hand side under “Labels.”

    God bless.

    Terry Delaney’s last blog post..Sleep, Glorious Sleep!

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