Ecclesiastes means “the preacher,” and what a message he preached in those twelve chapters. Two hundred and twenty-two verses filled with practical instruction for Christian living.
Solomon was that preacher, and as he concludes the book he gives some general advice about preaching…good advice. In fact, these pointers are tremendous – not just for the one who is called to do the preaching, but for all others who are admonished to hear and receive Bible preaching.
It’s important that we are able to recognize good preaching. Not every Christian television program, radio ministry, or man who fills a pulpit is going to produce healthy preaching. ‘The preacher’ gives us good advice on how to discern good, Bible preaching.
1. May our preaching be diligent, well-prepared, and carefully handled.
Verse 9, “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge (side note: It’s always easier to preach to those hungry for the Word and excited to be in church, but even when they’re not we must still teach the people); yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.”
It’s simple. Preaching that is wise will be diligent (he gave good heed), well-prepared (sought out), and carefully handled (set in order). It’s similar to what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We have a GREAT responsibility to teach God’s Word with diligent preparation – not winging it – as we carefully handle this two-edged sword to the approval of God.
2. May our preaching be gracious in delivery.
Verse 10, “The preacher sought to find out acceptable words.”
He sought to find the right words. He didn’t just get up behind the lectern and rattle off whatever came to his mind. He prepared his words. They were thought-out and considered. He considered not only what he should and should not say, but how he should say it. His words were acceptable, gracious.
Isn’t that how Jesus ministered? John tells us that Christ was full of grace and truth. Paul told the church at Ephesus to speak the truth in love. Good preaching will strive to be gracious in delivery.
3. May our preaching be true, not just interesting.
Verse 10, “…and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.”
This is a given, right? I mean, all preachers are honest in the pulpit, right? Surely, no Bible teacher would ever embellish a story or side-step the truth just to make their message more palatable or interesting?! Unfortunately, this is sometimes the case.
What makes this even harder is that we are living in a time where people really don’t care so much about the validity of the message as long as what they’re hearing is interesting or entertaining. 2 Timothy 4:4, “They shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Those of us who teach the Word of God must be careful that are words are true. I’ve heard some sermon illustrations and have thought, “That’s really hard to believe,” to soon discover that it wasn’t true. We are not called to be interesting story-tellers or entertaining orators, we are called to be honest preachers of the Word!
4. May our preaching instruct others in the right direction.
Verse 11, “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies.”
What is a goad? Well, a cattle-prod. Good preaching, like a cattle prod, provokes the listeners to go in the right direction. Preaching doesn’t exist to just make people feel better about the wrong way they’re going. Preaching is for correction and instruction. It is there to help us know what God wants us to know and do what God wants us to do.
Nobody likes to be poked and prodded. If it was up to us we would always choose to hear sermons that make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. But prodding is needed that we might go in the direction God would have us go. And that is a sign of good preaching, when I’m challenged by God’s Word to make some changes in my life.
5. May our preaching be that which is purely given from the Chief Shepherd.
Verse 11, “The words of the wise…which are given from one shepherd.”
As teachers of the Bible we are simply under-shepherds who work for the Chief Shepherd. It’s not my job to give a message that I desire our people to hear. My job is to stand up every week of my life and say, “This is the message from our Shepherd, and this is what He wants us to know and to do.” Preaching that places the emphasis on the One who gave the word is preaching that is good, helpful, and biblical.
Peter tells us (1 Peter 5:2) to feed the flock of God. With what are we to feed them? The words of God – not my agenda, not my ideas, not my extra-biblical philosophies. Purely, feed the flock of God with the words of God. The message we deliver is the message that comes from Him.
So, there it is – preaching advice from ‘the preacher,’ and such good advice it is!
It’s not too late to register for Preach The Word Workshop at Laurel Baptist Church September 29-30, 2016 hosted by me, Scott Tewell, and Kurt Skelly. The cost is $50. Register at preachtheword.info.