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The Pleasure and Power of Preaching with Sincerity

imagePaul addressed the issue of sincerity in preaching on several occasions throughout the New Testament. One such instance is 2 Corinthians 2:17, “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” As I have reflected on this verse, it’s given me some comfort to know that the issues that plague modern Christianity also faced the apostles. I’ve also found an important value in preaching – sincerity.

Sure, there are false teachers, hucksters, and impostors in pulpits across the land today. There were in Paul’s day too. It’s nothing new. But the contrast to this trend is a revival of sincerity in the pulpit. Preaching has been defined by D. Martin-Lloyd Jones as “the communication of God’s truth through human personality.” So we preachers get to represent God’s truth through our very personality. The prayer, “hide me behind thy cross, O Lord,” doesn’t reflect an accurate understanding of what preaching is all about. God has called me to represent Him as only I can, and for you to do the same.

So sincerity is a key to effective communication. You can’t fake sincerity for obvious reasons, but you can certainly do a self-test to ask the tough questions…

  • Do I really believe what I’m saying?
  • Do I live what I’m asking others to live?
  • Am I preaching as me, or as Billy Graham?
  • Am I wearing a mask or being transparent?
  • Am I preaching at people, or having a teaching conversation?

I greatly appreciate fine oratory. Two generations ago and further back, oratorical skills were at the top of the list of qualifications for great preaching. There’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, if preaching can be viewed as a creative art, then we certainly ought to make it pretty for God’s glory. And words are certainly the tools of our trade, so we should study them and utilize the power of them. Nevertheless, preaching is still a conversation that takes place between a preacher and each member of his congregation. It ought to come from the heart.

One of my own heroes was W. A. Criswell, who often referred to himself (making light of what others were already pointing out) as “a holy roller with a Ph.D.” I’ve listened to hundreds of his messages over at WACriswell.org and I can tell you, this genius of a man involved his emotions in the communication process, as should we today. It’s part of sincerity – bearing all.

Sincerity is one of my own core preaching values as well as somthing I continually have to fight myself for. And it can’t be faked. So how do you bear your honest heart for a greater impact in communicating the gospel?

Believe the truth

It’s my strong opinion that those who do not trust the entire Word of God as the whole, pure, and perfect book that it is, should not be in a preaching ministry. Period. We may not understand it all, but we can certainly take God’s Word at face value if we’re going to claim to represent it.

Prepare Well

Preparation prevents faking it in the pulpit. One HUGE rule of preaching is “don’t just make stuff up!” So study, prepare, work hard. Every Sunday is a test of your dedication and commitment to the Word.

Preach With Few, If Any Notes

This adds time and energy to preparation. You not only have to compile material and arrange it in a way that makes sense, but you must commit it to memory. If I’ve studied well, the sermon flows from the heart rather than having to leap off of the page. Having said that, some of the greatest preachers in history have been those who utilize manuscripts, so this is admittedly my own angle and not prescriptive for everybody.

Make Eye Contact

See the eyes of your people when you preach to them and you’ll see a piece of their heart as well. Of course, preaching without notes helps this process a great deal, but even if you use notes, glance at them and then return your attention to those from whom you’ve asked attention.

Tell Your Story

Every sermon represents biblical and doctrinal truth, but it also says something about your life, so tell your story. Your testimony and experiences mean a great deal to your congregation. They know you more by hearing about your personal life, so let them in and they’ll trust you more and respond well when you have to apply the truth in highly convicting ways. And, humorous and painful stories create highly teachable moments with our fellow human beings.

Live It Out

Jesus embodied all of God’s truth. He “tabernacled” Himself among us. He is God wrapped in human flesh. We ought to follow in His steps and be God’s truth, wrapped in flesh. Sermons are not just taught on Sunday, but demonstrated daily as we are observed by those who listen to us. We live life in a fish bowl, to some degree, so put on a show – not the kind where you act like a believer, but where you become a trophy of God’s marvelous and powerful grace.

Love Your Listeners

One of the things I pray before every sermon is “Lord, help me love people as I preach.” It’s easier to get messy in ministry when we love people the way God does. And what we say matters to people only when we’ve loved them in saying it.

Do It All Over Again

Sincerity goes along with consistency. We must be sincere week in and week out. There must be a pattern. Sadly, one mistake can blow our testimony for a long time into the future, so we must live consistently, prepare consistently, and preach consistently.

Sincerity matters in preaching. It’s a key value, a core component of effectively representing the gospel and communicating God’s truth in this present age. In fact, we need it more than ever!

The Sword of the Spirit

Sword of VictoryIf you know Jesus, you are equipped with everything you could possibly need for the battles you will face in this life. We’ve spent the last few days walking through Ephesians 6 – the “armor of God” passage, and each piece of armor has served a protective purpose. There is only one weapon mentioned. Paul challenges us to take up,

the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

– Ephesians 6:17 (NIV)

Scholars tell us that there were a couple of different words for sword in the Greek language. Rather than referring to the long, heavy sword used in a full-on frontal attack, Paul here urges us to take up the smaller blade – more of a long dagger – for the close hand-to-hand combat we’re going to be involved in. Sometimes, the battle is too close for comfort, but we have the most effective weapon of all – God’s truth.

When the enemy gets within striking range, which he loves to do, God’s truth is our one great defensive weapon with which to engage the enemy as he attempts to strike blows upon our hearts at close range.

Jesus modeled this when He was tempted by Satan. Three counterfeit offers are made by the enemy in an attempt to lure Jesus from His unbroken allegiance to the Father. And Jesus, for our sakes, answered each attack with the phrase, “it is written…” In other words, what God has inspired in His Word is the key to withstanding the enticements of the evil one.

I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

– Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

If you want to effectively stand against Satan’s forces on a continual basis, it means…

  • Reading God’s Word.
  • Studying God’s Word.
  • Applying God’s Word.
  • Memorizing God’s Word.
  • Meditating on God’s Word.

So stand courageously, sword drawn, and be confident that God’s truth wins.

photo credit: fallentomato

Our Most Precious Commodity: God’s Word

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This article is adapted from my sermon from 1 Samuel 2-3

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Three Functions of the Word of God

Every time I stand up to preach, I have the privilege of watching God’s living word accomplish dynamic things in the lives of people. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul spells out three distinct functions that the Word of God performs in our lives…

As you know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father does his children.
~ 1 Thessalonians 2:11

Now watch this…

To “exhort” is to BUILD UP people.

To “comfort” is to HOLD UP people.

To “charge” is to FIRE UP people.

I don’t know about you, but I need all three of those in my life every single day I need to be built up because I crumble on my own. So Word of God… exhort me. I need to be held up because I falter on my own, so Word of God… comfort me. I need to be fired up because I flicker out on my own. So Word of God… charge me.

And every time I preach, counsel, advise, or encourage, let me do these three things in the lives of others.


By the way, have you "liked" Grace Hills Church on Facebook yet?


A Firm Foundation For Life

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Download the MP3

Based on 1 Peter 1:17-25

ONE GREAT TRUTH: The foundation upon which our faith is built – the blood of Christ and the Word of God – is unshakable, unchanging, and everlasting.

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