1. Text: Lk. 8:18.
  2. If the gospel has a prerequisite, it is humility — we must be humble enough to hear what the gospel says to us. (The process can go no further if there is anything that filters the gospel out of our thinking.)
  3. Like any message, the gospel of Christ requires a fair hearing.
    1. We must be humble, open, willing to be persuaded — the gospel won’t have a chance if we don’t give it a chance.
    2. No amount of evidence will be enough if we are simply “unpersuadable.”
    3. There are none so deaf as those who will not hear. Cf. Mt. 13:13–15; Jn. 5:40; Ac. 7:57; etc.
    4. In Jas. 3:17, one of the qualities of wisdom is that it is “easy to be entreated” (KJV) or “open to reason” (ESV).
  4. All the people who heard Jesus heard the same words, but there were many different responses. Cf. Mt. 7:24–27.
  5. Simple “hearing” is not enough — the question is, how will we hear and what will we do about it? Cf. Hb. 4:2.
  6. We are all prone to the problems of denial and defensiveness. (Rather than “hear,” we tend to “hide” — Gen. 3:8–10.)
  7. So Jesus said, “Take heed how you hear” (Lk. 8:18). Let’s think first about the message that must be heard.

I. The Gospel Story

  1. The gospel is the message of the cross — it’s about “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).
  2. The gospel is the story of God saving us from the eternal consequences of our rebellion against Him. 
    1. When mankind rebelled against God, God was not willing to leave us in our lost condition.
    2. He sent His Son into the world to live a perfect human life, and then die, taking our punishment upon Himself.
    3. Raised from the dead after His crucifixion, Jesus now reigns at the right hand of God and offers forgiveness and salvation to all who will obey His gospel.
    4. When the time is right, He is going to come back, destroy this world, and take His forgiven people to heaven to be with Him forever.
  3. Four passages that point to the heart of the gospel. 
    1. Mt. 20:17–19.
    2. Jn. 3:16–18.
    3. Lk. 24:46–49.
    4. 1 Cor. 15:1–8.
  4. The gospel story has an invitation attached to it — but it is a two-fold invitation.
    1. Accept forgiveness — “Repent . . . be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Ac. 2:38).
    2. Become disciples — “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me” (Mt. 11:28–30).
  5. Hearing this message requires being open to all the truth we need to hear.

II. Life’s Most Important Issue

  1. The gospel challenges us to deal seriously with whether there really is a God. 
    1. Truth . . . Is the gospel of Jesus Christ true? (Honesty — truth is not always what we want it to be.)
    2. Response . . . What am I going to do about it? (Courage — truth is not always easy to respond to.)
  2. There is no in-between, no safe middle ground: if the gospel is true, we should devote our lives to it — but if it is not true, such a lie needs to be eradicated from the earth.
  3. Well might Jesus have said, “Take heed how you hear” (Lk. 8:18).

III. Two Truths, Both Hard to Accept

  1. The gospel confronts us with two truths. 
    1. The sinful truth about ourselves (the gospel’s diagnosis of our malady) — the problem.
    2. The saving truth about God (the gospel’s plan for our redemption) — the solution.
  2. From the beginning, the first has always been the hardest to accept — we all struggle with defensiveness and anger. 
    1. Adam and Eve — Gen. 3:8–10.
    2. Cain — Gen. 4:4–8.
  3. If we’re not prepared to hear the gospel penitently, we should go back home — Mt. 3:7,8.
  4. Consider the story of David and Nathan — 2 Sam. 12:1–14. All of us face the same decision: how will we hear what God says about our sins?
    1. Nathan: “You are the man” (v.7).
    2. David: “I have sinned against the Lord” (v.13).


  1. How receptive are you? Honest? Courageous? 
    1. We must not define truth in terms of what we want it to be.
    2. Truth is what it is, regardless of our preferences. “Truth is not always what we want to hear” (Jewish Proverb).
    3. The more painful a truth may be to accept, the more we must be willing to go wherever truth leads us.
  2. Without honesty and courage, hearing the truth is worse than useless — it will, in fact, condemn us. Cf. Jn. 12:48.
  3. How have you “heard” the gospel up to now? In what manner have you listened to what God has said to you? 
    1. What is your track record?
    2. What have you done when you’ve had to deal with uncomfortable truth?
    3. How have you reacted when you’ve been told told something you didn’t want to hear?
    4. Are there any limits on how far you would go to follow Jesus?
  4. We alone can determine what kind of hearers we are going to be — and our salvation depends on our decision.

Gary Henry — +

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