Declare the Whole Counsel

By David A. Webb

Some time ago I had the privilege of hearing Brother Joe Corley of Dothan, Alabama preaching in a gospel meeting at the Northside Church of Christ in Jonesboro, Arkansas. In the sermon, which dealt with “The Power of the Gospel,” Brother Corley ably illustrated the duel effect that the preaching of the gospel would produce. Some, upon hearing the word, were convicted of their sins and humbly turned in obedience to God (Acts 2). Others, upon hearing the same word, would rebel against the truth, sometimes in a rather violent way (Acts 7). In each case the simple truth was declared. This was the truth that could lead the hearers to salvation.

But why did the same truth receive a variety of reactions? The fault did not lie in the gospel itself nor in the preacher and the manner in which he revealed it. The fault was in the hearts of the hearers themselves. Some hearts were receptive to the gospel. Those hearers would obey whatever was required of them. On the other hand, some hearts were filled with pride, arrogance and a desire to please self. These hearers would obey only that with which they agreed. But let someone expose the sin in their life and they would become rebellious and reject not only the truth but also the one who delivered that truth.

This point in Brother Corley’s sermon caused me to think of the mistakes many of us make in “holding back” certain things our hearers may need to be told. We sometimes feel that by teaching on certain subjects we may alienate certain people from the gospel altogether. So we reason that once these individuals become “grounded,” we will begin to introduce them to other truths which deal with serious problems in their lives. While our reasoning may sound valid, it is not! The apostle Paul would have simply labeled this reasoning as “shunning to declare the whole counsel of God.”

As gospel preachers and teachers, we need to simply preach and teach the gospel, the whole gospel. Some of those in sin will respond by obeying those precepts, and others will rebel and turn away. If any are lost the fault will not lie in the gospel or in us for exposing their sins to them, the fault will lie in their own rebellious hearts.

God has not given us the privilege of selecting which parts of His word we will teach and which parts we will not teach. Since we do not know how anyone will react to truth, God expects us to teach it all. Paul did, and he was able to say, “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you . . . Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:20, 26-27).

Thank you, Brother Corley.

Truth Magazine, XX:5, p. 9
January 29, 1976