Sunday, June 22, 2014

Declaring the Whole Counsel of God

"for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God."  Acts 20:27 (ESV)

The tendency for ministers is to hesitate or even flat out refuse to preach on a subject they are not themselves living.  Doing so can often times feel like hypocrisy, both to the pastor and to the congregation.  I am not simply speaking of inexperience but also of times where the pastor may be struggling to live up to a particular standard.  Say, for instance, preaching that we must pray more when at the same time we recognizes that our own prayer life is lacking.

The difficulty with this sort of thinking is that, if carried out, it can lead to our not declaring the whole counsel of God to those to whom we were sent to shepherd.  And, as Paul's farewell address to the Ephesians suggests, we could find ourselves with blood on our hands.  Let's admit it here and now: the standards of the Scripture are so high that we will never live up to every expectation, no matter how hard we try.  The standard is, after all, God Himself.  But that doesn't mean we have an excuse to not preach all of what Scripture tells us.

The Bible commands us to do what it says (Matt. 28:20; James 1:22) and there is no excuse for sin but we must keep in mind that the Bible is a book outside of ourselves.  Its veracity and efficacy do not hinge upon our experience or practice or lack thereof. Sure, when people see us practicing what we preach it makes a difference.  There is something to be said for the Church becoming the apologetic for the gospel.  And nothing seems to do more damage to the cause then for a "believer" to tell everyone else what following Christ should look like while at the same time he himself lives like a heathen.  Yet, what I want to make clear is that the preaching of the whole counsel of God and our living it out as ministers are two different issues.  To sin is one issue of which hypocrisy is simply one more sin on top of many.  To not preach the Word is another sin.  For the conscientious pastor to not preach the whole counsel of God because of his sin or lack of consistency, intensity or experience in living out biblical mandates only makes the problem worse not better.  It may look admirable and virtuous, but in reality it is sin.

Brothers, we must preach and we must preach the whole counsel of God no matter what.  Live it and live it well, but do not allow false humility to stop you from our biblical mandate to teach those whom God has put under our charge as His shepherds of His flock.

In the words of the apostle:

I charge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word... (2 Tim. 4:1,2a)

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