Martyn Lloyd-Jones once wrote, “The world is dying for want, not of good preaching but of good hearing.” A recent book dealing with preaching are not actually targeted at preachers. It is aimed at those who listen to sermons, which we hope includes at least most of our congregations. Joe Thorn’s new book Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself is not about preaching but about applying the truths of Scripture to your own life. As he explains, “Preaching to ourselves is the personal act of applying the law and the gospel to our own lives with the aim of experiencing the transforming grace of God leading to ongoing faith, repentance and greater godliness.” In this brief volume, he argues that we must go beyond listening to the preached Word and integrate that Word into our own lives.
Unlike Bergemeier’s Helping Johnny Listen, which features lengthy chapters with substantial content (the result of a D.Min. project), Thorn’s small volume consist of 48 brief chapters categorized under three major headings: “The Gospel and God,” “The Gospel and Others” and “The Gospel and You.” The book is written in the form of short notes to oneself about ways to apply God’s truth to one’s own life.
Both books are helpful reminders that the preaching of the Word in and of itself is not sufficient to change lives. It also takes listeners who have ears to hear and whose responsiveness to the gospel will create a fruitful context in which the work of the Holy Spirit will take place.