“It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts, and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills. Let me tell you something, friend, it is not love, and it is not friendship, if we fail to declare the whole counsel of God. It is better to be hated for telling the truth, than to be loved for telling a lie….”
Today if you share the whole counsel of God as expressed by the Holy Spirit in the Bible, you are defined as being negative or even a corrupter of the good news. It is believed by some that you should only share about the positive things in scripture: grace, love, “the mystery”, peace, security and a beautiful future.
Today, through the emergent church and others, Christianity is being redefined and losing its scriptural moorings. The word of God is being cherry picked to make it fit into contemporary culture. Eventually, the subjective experiences of Christian mysticism will replace the objective truths of scripture, leading to the rejection of orthodox doctrines that have strengthened believers for centuries.
To help us understand how God intended the Truth to be shared, we will look at Acts 20: 17-38, Luke’s account of Paul praying with the Ephesian elders on his way to Jerusalem. From his discourse we can discern what he had previously shared with these Gentile and Jewish believers:
- He “did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable…” (verse 20)
- He “solemnly testified to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- He says his ministry was “…to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
- He says that he is “…innocent of the blood of all men for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel [or purpose] of God.”
- He warned these “overseers” to “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock…” because “after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock…”
- He specifically warned these church elders that “from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.”
- He tells them “Therefore be on the alert…”
- He tells them “…remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”
- In closing, Paul “…commended you to God and to the word of His grace which is able to build you up and give you the inheritance…”
- He taught them through his example of hard work to help the weak and “remember the words of the Lord Jesus….’It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”
As you can see from an overview of this text that Paul shared what would be termed today “negative” truth with this church. Following are some observations that can be drawn from Paul’s statements:
- The parameter he used for sharing was, is it profitable to them. His first priority was their spiritual well being, not their subjective feelings, nor his reputation, financial status or social status.
- There were serious, eternal issues at stake; therefore, he testified solemnly of the way to salvation and to the gospel of the grace of God. There was no showmanship or frivolous handling of the truths of God but there were tears as he admonished [instructed and warned] each one.
- These were serious matters that Paul would be held accountable to Jesus Christ for; therefore, he shared with them the whole counsel of God so he would be innocent of the blood of all men. He shared the positive, the negative and everything in-between.
- We Christians do not like to be warned that we could be deceived. Yet, Paul stressed to these church leaders that there were savage wolves, people activated by the devil, who would destroy church people’s lives and that some of them, the elders, were these very savage wolves. Not a very positive statement. He did not build up their self-worth, positive image, or encourage them. He told them a hard truth.
- He told them to remember the words of Lord Jesus about giving; thereby, pointing to the ultimate authority of knowledge.
Therefore, dear Reader, if you are in a church that does not give you the whole counsel of God, the positive, the negative and everything in-between, I advise you to get up, grab your Bible, and run out the door. If they are just tickling your ears and giving you what your flesh or the contemporary culture wants you to hear, you’re in, or headed for great deception. Find yourself a pastor who loves the sheep enough to tell them the truth, even when it is not popular, and fears the Lord instead of man. A pastor who loves you more than he loves money and popularity.
Why should you do this?
Because the savage wolves are still here! And they still want to lead you astray and devour you and your love ones.
Peter said in 2 Peter 2:1, as there were false prophets before the Lord Jesus came the first time, there would also be false teachers among the New Testament believers, who would secretly introduce destructive heresies alongside of biblical truths. They would use the Holy Scripture to camaflouge their lies.
This is why the Lord Jesus gave certain offices to His Church that would produce a certain Result:
….gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,  for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.  As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;…
These men mentioned in verse 14 above, are savage wolves. By the preaching and teaching of the whole counsel of God, the Church is protected from these destructive, demonized people, whose goal is to destroy. If you have ever watched a wild animal attack and devour another wild animal, you know how powerful this analogy is. No mercy, no stopping until the victim’s life is snuffed out. We once had a hawk knock a wood duck out the sky and they fell in front of our dinning room window. Watching the hawk kill the duck was a sobering reminder of the life and death struggle in the physical world and the spiritual world.
Therefore, choose your spiritual teachers very wisely, including the spiritual books you read. Do some research and find out what the author believes before you expose yourself to their teaching.
Remember what Adrian Rogers said at the beginning of this post.
“It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts, and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills.
“Falsehood” is what savage wolves give unsuspecting hearts (Romans 16:18) to ensnare them. “Therefore be alert…”
May you be growing into the “measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ“. Thank you for your time.