The Whole Counsel of God

for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. – Acts 20:27

In this passage, the word shrink ( hupostellō ) means to withhold under (out of sight); conceal, hold back. Declaring (anaggellō) is to announce (in detail). The word whole (pas) means each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything; counsel ( boulē ) is volition, decision, intention, purpose.

In other words, we might translate the verse this way:

For I did not withhold out of sight from you; I did not conceal nor hold back anything from you, announcing in detail everything God has purposed, decided and intended for you.

Brethren, this is speaking of the complete revelation God has given us in his Son Jesus Christ, and there is more than the Gospel being spoken of here.

There is the sermon on the mount, for one, describing not specifically only things to be believed, but rather to be done, to be lived out, the very character of a Christian by which the world will know to whom they belong. There is much of the New Testament devoted to instructions of righteousness – living rightly, honorably, in such a way as to be pleasing to both God and man.

There are among us these days those who limit the scope of their instruction to the Church to the Gospel alone. Every sermon, every text, every message a message of the Gospel. That is not the whole counsel of God. Such are holding back, concealing (if they know at all) the full revelation of God in His Son Jesus Christ as revealed in the written Word. If they’ve a firm grasp of the Gospel according to Scripture, I commend them to the evangelistic field, but let us deny admittance of those to the office of pastor-teacher, for if the gospel is all they have to instruct the Church, they will keep the congregations in spiritual diapers, stunt their spiritual growth, effectively hindering any progress in their Christian maturity and their participation in the Great Commission to which they have been assigned.

Many Christians across America remain in the aforesaid spiritual diapers because they have been deceived into believing that the Gospel alone was going to MAKE them holy. Being set apart to be holy by way of regeneration or the new birth is one thing; the hard warfare of becoming holy, righteous by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, that is, ethical sanctification, is a whole other matter in itself.

Some no doubt will object: “What else is there other than the scandalous Gospel?”

The rest of God’s whole counsel to you, that’s what.

Jesus said:

If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. – John 7:17

Amen.