"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Month: February 2011

Integrity in the Pulpit (Part 3)

Our third installment in this ongoing series of posts relating to integrity in the pulpit.

Integrity with Self — Questions About Authenticity

Questions & Queries:

  • Do we preach better than we live?
  • Do we preach better than we believe?
  • How does integrity come into play when we know we must preach a passage we know we’ve been struggling to live personally?
  • How does integrity come into play when we know we must preach a truth that we’ve been having quiet, nagging, doubt-filled questions about?
  • How does this relate to questions of theology we simply are not certain about? (e.g., timing of the rapture)
  • How do you handle discovering you’ve said something wrong in a sermon?

Notable & Quotable:

  • “I traveled with him in conventions and what he preached he lived . . . He was the greatest heart preacher I ever listened to.  He preached out of his own rich dealings with God.”  (Paul Rader speaking of A.B. Simpson)[i]
  • “It takes a tremendous amount of relationship to God for a man to be what he is.”[ii]

[i] Larsen, David L., The Company of the Preachers(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1998), 659.

[ii] Chambers, Oswald, quoted in Oswald Chambers: The Best From All His Books (Nashville:Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1987), 135.


Integrity in the Pulpit (Part 2)

Continuing our exploration of just what integrity would look like in the pulpit.

Integrity with ScriptureQuestions About Authority

Questions & Queries:

  • What does it mean to handle Scripture with integrity?
  • How may our preaching model integrity with the text of Scripture for our people?
  • In what ways may we violate integrity with the text of Scripture?
  • What does integrity with Scripture have to do with the shape and form my sermon take?
  • How does integrity with Scripture relate to the issue of authorial intent?
  • Can we say with integrity “This text illustrates the truth that . . .”?  as opposed to saying “God’s purpose for having this text written is . . .”?
  • How does this relate to the work of setting forth a preaching calendar/schedule?
  • How does this relate to preaching in response to crisis moments in the church?
  • How does this relate to preaching a “prophetic” message to a particular situation?
  • What makes for authority in preaching?
  • Is our aim to preach with authority?  Or to preach a message that has authority?
  • How might confusing the two potentially jeopardize our integrity?

Notable & Quotable:

  • “Our authority as preachers sent by God rises and falls with our manifest allegiance to the text of Scripture.  I say ‘manifest’ because there are so many preachers who say they are doing exposition when they do not ground their assertions explicitly—‘manifestly’—in the text.  They don’t show their people clearly that the assertions of their preaching are coming from specific, readable words of Scripture that the people can see for themselves.”[i]
  • “The issue of authority is inescapable.  Either the preacher or the text will be the operant authority. . . . We are called, not only to preach, but to preach the Word.”[ii]

[i] Piper, John, The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1990), 41.

[ii] Mohler, Albert, “A Theology of Preaching,” Michael Duduit, ed., Handbook on Contemporary Preaching (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 15.

Integrity in the Pulpit (Part 1)

In this series of posts I’ll be speaking to the preachers. All others are welcome to listen in, but I’ll be talking to those who share my calling as a proclaimer of God’s Word.

Gentlemen, we all want to preach. God has put that compulsion within us. Rightly, we all want to preach well.  History affirms that one can preach without integrity, but eternity will reveal that no one ever preached well without it.

So, may I ask: What is integrity? What does it look like in a preacher? Perhaps an answer to those questions lies on the other side of an answer to this one: What is the opposite of integrity? Is it compromise? Is it a divided heart or mind? Are there truths that we, even as preachers, simply tip our hats at, but fail to truly believe? We expound them. We can alliterate three points related to them. But do we believe them?  How does this relate to integrity in the pulpit?

I have never found a better explanation of integrity than that of Warren Weirsbe in his book The Integrity Crisis.

What is integrity?  The Oxford English Dictionary says that the word come from the Latin integritas, which means ‘wholeness,’ ‘entireness,’ ‘completeness.’  The root is integer, which means ‘untouched,’ ‘intact,’ ‘entire.’ . . . A person with integrity is not divided (that’s duplicity) or merely pretending (that’s hypocrisy).  He or she is ‘whole’; life is ‘put together,’ and things are working together harmoniously.  People with integrity have nothing to hide and nothing to fear.  Their lives are open books.  They are integers.[i]

What, then, does that look like in the pulpit? In this series of posts I’d like to suggest six areas to which integrity is essential, if we as preachers are to preach well — by eternity’s and God’s accounting. I will take the suggestive approach, rather than a declaratory approach. I want to invite (even instigate) your thinking. To that end I’ll set forth both some questions and quotations in each area. First, then, is . . .

Integrity with God — Questions About Accountability

Questions & Queries:

  • What makes for a “good sermon” in God’s estimation?
  • What makes for a “good preacher” in God’s estimation?
  • What issues do you picture God raising about your preaching when you stand for review at the judgement seat of Christ?
  • What issues do you think God won’t raise that we now concern ourselves with?
  • We often think of preaching with integrity in terms of our content and its conformity to the truth of God’s Word, what else may come into play as we consider preaching before God with integrity?
  • What practical differences does the knowledge of that accountability make?
  • What does it mean when we say, “I’m accountable before God for what I preach?”
  • What does it mean when we say, “I’m accountable before God for how I preach?”

Notable & Quotable:

  • “I know perfectly well that, wherever I go and preach, there are many better preachers known and heard than I am; all that I can say about it is that the Lord uses me.”[ii]
  • “The preacher—His throne is the pulpit; he stands in Christ’s stead; his message is the Word of God; around him are immortal souls; the Savior, unseen is beside him; the Holy Spirit broods over the congregation; angels gaze upon the scene, and heaven and hell await the issue.  What associations and what a vast responsibility!”[iii]

[i] Weirsbe, Warren W., The Integrity Crisis (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998), 21.

[ii] Moody, D.L., quoted in Larsen, David L., The Company of the Preachers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1998), 510.

[iii] Simpson, Matthew, quoted in Larsen, 536.

Listen! Do You Hear?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Listen!  Do you hear?

The Word of God so dear

Speaks in hushed and holy tones

Amid space-less, timeless zones

Where only Two can hear.

Listen!  Do you hear?

The Word of God so dear

Is speaking worlds into being

Nothingness now is fleeing

From stars and trees and deer.

Listen!  Do you hear?

The Word of God so clear

Is spurned and doubted

By man and wife is flouted

Plunging into death and fear.

Listen!  Do you hear?

The Word of God so clear

Is speaking now in flesh

And laid in holy creche

God now shedding infant’s tear.

Listen!  Do you hear?

The Word of God so dear

Silenced now upon a cross

Suffering infinite loss

As He our sins does bear.

Listen!  Do you hear?

The Word of God so clear

Speaks with trumpet’s victory sound

Empty is tomb’s lifeless ground

As triumph now comes near.

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