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Acts 20:25-27:  “And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God…”


These were some of Apostle Paul’s farewell words to the elders of the church at Ephesus on his final visit there. Paul, a diligently obedient Christian, took great care to preach whatever the Lord gave him to say whenever he was sharing the Word. Over the course of Paul’s time proclaiming the Word of God, it appears from all the Scriptures about him that he held back nothing, or else he could not have rightly claimed to have declared “the whole counsel of God.” As believers today, what does this look like? What does declaring the whole counsel of God actually mean?

We already realize that different preachers and teachers of the Bible have different styles of conveying their messages.


God works through the personalities of each of those He called. That is why different books of the Bible have different styles, though the entire Word of God is inspired, and thus authored, by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19-21). Likewise, some preachers are more humorous, some more emotional, some more serious, some more detailed, and so forth. It would be nice if all these differences were orchestrated solely by God. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. What we see sometimes is unbalanced and even unprepared preaching and teaching.


There are churches and even denominations whose sole emphasis is on a limited set of topics. You might go years without hardly a mention of hell, yet hear about prosperity and the necessity of giving virtually every week, for example. Some preachers may only preach one series after another on certain topics, skating by those things which may offend their parishioners, thereby not running off their biggest tithers. Some talk incessantly about tongues and healing or deliverance, while neglecting other elements which are crucial to discipleship and other things which go with being a Christian and a church attender. Others are hung up on inviting people to church, speaking on it nearly every time they take the pulpit. The variations are numerous. Some of these teachings turn out to be outright distortions of Biblical truth while others are simply an overemphasis on certain subjects.


A word about balanced Biblical preaching: “Balance” in this sense does not necessarily look like the world’s concept of balance. When we think of that word in the ordinary sense, beyond the literal interpretation of balancing various objects, we tend to think of even portions of different things. That is not usually what ongoing sharing of the whole counsel of God looks like. This is particularly true of some callings and specific ministries. The evangelist has a Spirit-given gift for soulwinning. Therefore, this person’s preaching and/or teaching will mostly concern things that pertain to evangelism, such as heaven, hell, and the necessity of accepting Jesus Christ as one’s Savior and Lord. The prophet consistently warns and corrects. Ministries ordained by God to be geared towards deliverance focus on the casting out of demons and other deliverance-related topics. And so forth it goes. But what about regular churches? How does sharing the whole counsel of God look there?


Here also, Biblically balanced preaching is not necessarily an even apportionment of different topics from the Word of God. However, when the man of God has a word that may not be popular, he will share it anyway. When he has a word that may be a bit peculiar, though he knows it lines up with Scripture, he will still speak on it. When he has a word that he knows will offend and drive away some, he will preach it and let the cards fall where they may. If the preacher or teacher of the Word who is obedient to the Lord has been shown by the Holy Spirit that something which has been commonly taught is wrong, he will straighten it out from the pulpit even if it goes against denominational teachings. These, in turn, are just some examples. We see, then, that declaring the whole counsel of God is not so much about proportion as it is about what God has to say, and that brings me to my next point: Inspiration.


Scriptural preaching and teaching are not just balanced, they are inspired. In fact, without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit it is impossible to achieve Biblical balance. The Lord knows what various congregations need to hear at any given time, and He will lead His preachers and teachers to speak what He has for these congregations—if they are obedient. Preachers and teachers are just as human as anyone else. There are times when we are afraid to speak up, such as if God has given us a strong word of correction to share. There are also times we feel awkward like when, for example, we are teaching a topic which is not well-known in large segments of modern Christianity, such as the origin of the giants before and after the Flood. While God knows and understands this, He also fully expects those whom He called to the pulpit to say what He has to say no matter what. We are to be shepherds, not hirelings, and God takes His Word very seriously. It is not something to be taken casually or twisted, as you see here:


James 3:1:  My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.


John 10:11-13:  “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep…


Proverbs 30:5-6:  Every word of God ispure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.


Revelation 22:18-19:  For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.


Those called to preach and/or teach the Word of God, in addition to the necessity of being mature in the faith, must have a good knowledge of the Bible. This does not mean you have to be seminary-trained. What it does mean is that you read the Bible daily and study it. The person called of God to the pulpit must be living righteously also just as all believers should be. Whomever is proclaiming the Word of God should be well-prepared and absolutely must be led by the Holy Spirit. God’s inspiration will ensure that he is speaking what God wants him to say, and doing so in the power of the Spirit. A preacher or teacher can be prepared to the nth degree scholastically, but without the direction and anointing of the Holy Spirit the message preached will have little if any impact.


For those of you who are not called to preach or teach the Word of God, how do you know if the church you attend is declaring unto you the whole counsel of God? To start with, as with the preacher, so with the parishioner: You must know the Bible. You must read it every day. There is no substitute for either of these—for any believer:


Psalm 1:1-2:  Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight isin the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.


2 Timothy 2:15:  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.


In addition, you must have a solid prayer life and be living right. That way you can be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. He is a most excellent guide, pointing you to the truths in God’s Word and away from error:


1 John 2:20, 26-27:  But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things…These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.


Knowing the Word and being guided by the Holy Spirit will keep you from being hoodwinked by pulpit pimps and hucksters, as well as from being misled by the inexperienced, the unprepared, and the uninspired. Along with that, a little common sense goes a long way. If your church is more interested in entertainment than edification, it should not take too long for that to become obvious. If the pastor is always carrying on about money and prosperity or talking about spiritual gifts in strange ways, you know that what you are getting is not only not the whole counsel of God, but not the counsel of God, period. If your church observes traditions that are nowhere to be found in the Scriptures, you will know better than to take as doctrines these traditions of men.


In conclusion, the whole counsel of God involves what the Lord wants His man to preach or teach about. The inspiration, guidance, and anointing of the Holy Spirit are essential. In the end it is what the Bible says, not what denominationalism and traditions say, that is important. Bible knowledge and message preparedness are essential, too, and a holy lifestyle to go along with these. Such criteria are as important to the parishioner as they are to the proclaimer of God’s Word. If you are in a church that is out of balance, so to speak, start looking for one that is operating Biblically. Seek the guidance of mature, experienced believers if need be. The person in the pulpit has certain responsibilities to be knowledgeable and discerning, but so does the parishioner. It is only together that we can both experience the sharing of the whole counsel of God and reap its benefits.



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