Preaching with Conviction

Preachers who speak without conviction are almost useless. If there is no passion, no urgency, no compelling sense of reality punctuating our pulpit utterances, we might as well sit down and shut up.

It is a grave sin for preachers to tell lies with their words in the pulpit, to peddle fiction in the name of truth. It is also a great sin for preachers to tell lies with the tone of their words, peddling truth as though it were fiction.

G. Campbell Morgan tells the tale of that great English actor Macready. An eminent preacher once said to him: "I wish you would explain something to me."

"Well, what is it? I don't know that I can explain anything to a preacher."

"What is the reason for the difference between you and me? You are appearing before crowds night after night with fiction, and the crowds come wherever you go. I am preaching the essential and unchangeable truth, and I am not getting any crowd at all."

Macready's answer was this: "This is quite simple. I can tell you the difference between us. I present my fiction as though it were truth; you present your truth as though it were fiction."[1]

Is there conviction in your preaching? Do your people take your presentation of God's Word seriously . . . because they sense that you take God's Word seriously?

Paul was able to say to the Thessalonians, "And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers" (1 Thess. 2:13, emphasis added).

Why did they receive the Word of God in this way? One reason is "because [the] gospel came to [them] not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" (1 Thess. 1:5, emphasis added).

The Puritan Richard Baxter well understood the weightiness of the preacher's calling: "I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men."[2] Make his motto your own, brothers. Let your preaching be with conviction.

Making It Personal

Do I present the truth as though it were fiction?

Is there discernible passion and urgency in the tone of my voice when preaching?

Have I received the Word with enough conviction that it has changed my life?

Do the people who hear me preach think that I take God's Word seriously?


[1] G. Campbell Morgan, Preaching (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1937) 36.

[2] Quoted in I. D. E. Thomas, A Puritan Golden Treasury (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1977) 223.


Jeffrey A. Norris said...

I think these are great! I think I could answer these as yes to my first sermon, but I think we all need valuable whet-stones to sharpen us. I know I often don't see obvious flaws in my own life.

mwh said...

Along the same vein...

"When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as {one} having authority, and not as their scribes."

Matthew 7:28-29