by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 18 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Meet The Holy Spirit)
Much is said about Spirit-filled preaching. Many manuscripts have been written on the subject of the man of God preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit. The spiritual pastor goes to his prayer closet day after day pleading with God to give him the power of the Holy Spirit as he delivers God's message to the people. The layman in the pew prays for God to give his pastor power as he preaches. An unbelievable and justified amount of interest is shown toward this subject. The preacher prays as he enters the pulpit, "Oh God, give me power! Give me power!" It is not unusual for us in the song service to sing, "Holy Spirit, breathe on me," or "The Comforter has come," or "Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me." Books are written, sermons are preached, lessons are taught, and publications printed to deal with the importance of the preacher having the power of the Holy Spirit upon him as he delivers God's message.
`Tis sad but true, however, that few of us have ever heard a sermon or read a manuscript dealing with the Spirit-filled listening. The Bible, however, does not delegate this subject. Great emphasis is placed on the Holy Spirit filling the listener as well as the speaker. There is an abundance of Scripture dealing with this truth.
Revelation 2:7, "HE THAT HATH AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."
Revelation 2:11, "HE THAT HATH AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."
Revelation 2:17, "HE THAT HATH AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it."
Revelation 2:29, "HE THAT HATH AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH unto the churches."
Revelation 3:6, "HE THAT HATH AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH unto the churches."
Revelation 3:13, "HE THAT HATH AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH unto the churches."
Revelation 3:22, "HE THAT HATH AN EAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH unto the churches."
Note the emphasis given on the Holy Spirit and hearing in these passages. The person in the pew is just as obligated to be filled with the Spirit as he listens as the man of God in the pulpit. For yes it has been my policy to seek the Holy Spirit's power upon me as I listen to a sermon and as I listen to the special musical number. It is amazing how many times the Holy Spirit helps me understand what is being said. Then He often tells me things that are not being said. Perhaps a preacher will say something, and the Holy Spirit will remind me of another truth. He also gives me seed thoughts for sermons and Bible studies. He also applies the message to my own life, and so many times he still lift out one statement that the preacher makes that I need in a special way.
When I was a young college student I received a call to pastor a nice church that gave me a unanimous call. Within a few days I received a call from another church asking me to be their pastor. This, however, was a call that I received by only one vote.
The logical thing was to accept the church that wanted me and that extended to me the unanimous vote. For some reason, however, I felt led to wait a few days before I made the decision. I was sitting in college chapel. As I sat down I asked the Holy Spirit to give me ears to hear. While I was listening, the preacher made this statement:; "Sometimes God wants us to do those things which are not logical." Immediately I knew that that was the Holy Spirit's message for me in that sermon. Immediately He told me that this was His way of letting me know that I was to go to the church where I was called by only one vote. Though the battles were many at this church, we had a wonderful ministry, and though it was a small country church, we had a wonderful ministry, and though it was a small country church, there are now 40 pastors and missionaries serving God across America and around the world who were called to preach while I was pastoring that country church. It is possible that I would not have accepted that pastorate had I not asked the Holy Spirit to fill me as I listened.
It would be a wonderful thing if God's people would plead for His power as they listen as much as the preacher pleads for the power of God as he preaches. It would be a wonderful thing if God's people would plead for the Holy Spirit to impower their listening during the congregational singing and as the special music is presented. It would be a wonderful thing if God's people would pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to be upon them as they hear the message from God's man. Think of it! A Spirit-filled preacher in the power of the Holy Spirit to a Spirit-filled congregation listening in the power of the Holy Spirit-what a combination!
It is interesting to note that on the day of Pentecost it is recorded in Acts 2:6, "Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language." Notice the words, "Every man heard them speak in his own language." The emphasis here is placed on the hearing. Then in verse 8 we read, "And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?" Notice again, when these people had come together, many of them could not understand the language which was being spoken. God miraculously gave them the ability to hear the truth each in his won language. It is just as possible that the miracle was in the hearing as much or more than it was in the speaking.
A similar statement is made in Acts 10:44, "While Peter yet spake these words, The Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word." Notice the emphasis on Spirit-filled hearing.
A blessed statement is made in Isaiah 50:4, "The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how the speak a word inseason to him that is weary; he wakeneth morning by morning, HE WAKENETH MINE EAR TO HEAR as the learned." Notice that last statement, "He wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned." So we find that the Holy Spirit cam waken the ear to hear. We find the admonition that we have an ear to hear what the Spirit says. Throughout the Scriptures there is a definite emphasis placed on hearing in the Spirit, or Spirit-filled hearing.
In I Corinthians 2:9, the Apostle tells us, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." Then in verse 10 so beautifully he says, "But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit," which means the Holy Spirit can let us see things that the eye cannot see and hear things that the ear cannot hear. The deep things of God come when our hearing is empowered by the Holy Spirit. Now how do we receive these things? This is answered explicitly in I Corinthians 2:12, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." Then in I Corinthians 2:14 we are reminded that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God." God is saying that the natural ear cannot hear all that God has for us; there is a spiritual ear and a spiritual hearing that God has for us. Oh, the things that God has to reveal to us if we would but hear!
A Christian's life could be transformed if he would enter the Sunday school class pleading for the Holy Spirit to fill him as he listens and if he would enter the preaching service likewise, begging for the Holy Spirit to impower his hearing. The natural ear cannot hear all that God has for us in a spiritual song. The natural ear cannot hear all that God has for us when a Spirit-led pastor proclaims the truth of the Word of God. The natural ear cannot hear lessons that God has for us during a prelude or an offertory. There is not doubt that thousands of us have not known the will of God because we have not entered into this great blessing of listening in the Spirit. God has things for us that are beneath the surface of the spoken word. He has truths for us that cannot be comprehended by the natural ear. There is an entire new area of the Christian life awaiting that believer who will plead with God to give him ears to hear what the Spirit saith. There are unexplored depths of truth and heights of experience that God has for that believer who exchanges his casual indulgence in a spiritual service for the spiritual ear to hear what the Spirit saith as well as for the physical ear to hear what the preacher says. Such Spirit-filled listening would make baby Christian mature, prevent hundred of church problems, prevent tragedy in the lives of God's people, and sweep thousands into the kingdom.
The word "heard" in Acts 10:44 could also be translated, "perception." This perception is available for every believer who will plead with the Holy Spirit to give him "an ear to hear what the Spirit saith to the churches." This perception is not available to those who glibly talk to their neighbors during the offertory, thumb through the songbook during the preaching service, and lightly enjoy the surface of a special number.
The wise believer will resolve that he will ask for Holy Spirit power as he fellowships the next Lord's Day, as he participates inn the congregational singing, as he quietly listens to the offertory, as he is blessed by the ministry of music, and especially as the man of God preaches God's message! Such Spirit-filled listening is life-transforming and life-changing. If, as the man of God enters the pulpit pleading for the power of the Holy Spirit as he preaches, the hearer is pleading for the power of the Holy Spirit as he listens, God can communicate to us and we can fellowship with Him in a manner maybe too unknown.
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"I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years." —Billy SUNDAY