In Paul’s final meeting with the elders at Ephesus, he challenged them, encouraged them, charged them, and warned them. He expressed his own confidence in their knowledge of God’s truth and was certain that they understood the expectations placed upon them. He said: “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.” (Acts 20:26-27).
All who preach the gospel today should strive to accomplish that same task. Faithful preaching is not simply preaching that is free from error. While that is certainly important, more is necessary. The “whole counsel of God” must be proclaimed.
We need more than ‘spiritual pep-talks’ from the pulpit. While it is essential to deal with the positive themes of God’s love, grace, forgiveness, etc., it is also critical that we cover important doctrinal issues that are so often neglected. When brethren are not well grounded in these crucial matters, they are left vulnerable to false teachers “who will secretly bring in destructive heresies” (2 Peter 2:1). Paul warned the Ephesian elders that such false teachers were like “grievous wolves” and that they would “not spare the flock” (Acts 20:29).
Brethren should demand a balance of preaching that stresses indispensable truths of both a positive and negative nature. Let all be encouraged by the affirmative facts of God’s love and blessings. But let them also be strengthened against the assaults of the Devil whose “servants masquerade as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:15 – NIV).
After a typical sermon ask yourself: Did the lesson do more than merely entertain? Did I learn something? Was I stirred to greater faith and service? Was my understanding of God’s Word increased? Am I better prepared to live in the face of the great challenges that surround me? Can I say – as the preacher brings lessons from week to week – that “the whole counsel of God” has been declared?
by Greg Gwin
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