I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Acts 20:27
The temptation is ever before the teacher of God’s Word to avoid the more difficult topics. To shrink back from naming sin for what it is, from calling others to repentance, dealing with predestination, reprobation, obedience, death, sexual sin, materialism and giving. What about the topics that are offensive to the culture like homosexuality, single-gender “marriage,” and the like? We read and see these things, know its importance to the people of God but then comes that moment of hesitation: should I really address this?
Fear of man stirs in our breast as fear of God wanes allowing us to think up good reasons to not address others: there are children present, it is too dark or hard, there are other topics to treat in this text, it requires too much subtle handling, it might hurt someone’s feelings, it will be awkward. Then we shrink back, succumbing to our fear of man. Like one who draws to the edge of a cliff preparing to rappel down, but seeing the dizzying height, steps back from the edge, “No that is too dangerous, I will pass.”
In shrinking back, the whole counsel of God is ignored and we wonder why the church in the US is so thin, weak and resembling the world. Lord make me, us, unafraid to preach your Word in its entirety, just as it is written, neither adding to, nor subtracting from the whole counsel of your Word. Make me, us, more and more a servant of your Word. Make us a slave to your Word, constrained to obey it, study, understand and teach it.
John Calvin Comments on this passage.
“First, let them not esteem at their pleasure what is profitable to be uttered and what to be omitted; but let them leave that to God alone to be ordered at his pleasure. So shall it come to pass that the inventions of men shall have none entrance into the Church of God. Again, mortal man shall not be so bold as to mangle the Scripture and to pull it in pieces, that he may diminish this or that at his pleasure, that he may obscure something and suppress many things; but shall deliver whatsoever is revealed in the Scripture, though wisely and seasonably for the edifying of the people, yet plainly and without guile, as becomes a faithful and true interpreter of God.”
Let us not shrink back—ever—but always declare the whole counsel of God.
Author: Tom Hawkes