​​​​​​​Declaring the Whole Counsel of God

Declaring the whole counsel of God” is the primary goal of all those who preach, teach, and study the word of God. Whether we are teaching others or engaged in personal Bible study, we must hear God’s whole counsel on any given topic. We may know by heart the passage from 2 Tim, 3.16-17, how the word of God is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”, that it completes us in the Lord and equips us for “every good work”. However, do we take seriously the FIRST part of that passage: “All scripture”? To hear and speak God’s whole counsel requires us to recognize the whole of scripture as the counsel of God. In light of this, there are a few things we must remember. 

 First, we must recognize that the whole counsel of God is not declared solely by focusing on His commands. God has spoken to us in His word by many different means, such as narrative accounts, short proverbs, songs and poetry, blueprints, genealogies, legal codes, etc. It frightens me to consider how much of God’s counsel I have missed or neglected due to my tendency to focus more on certain types of scripture than others. There are important principles, practical lessons, and profound insights to be found in every part of God’s word. 2 Timothy 3.16 says “All scripture is theopneustos (God Breathed), and as such “all scripture” is worthy of our diligent attention and study. God’s word is a mine of precious stones, and if we seek only for diamonds, we will miss all the emeralds, sapphires, and rubies that lie waiting for us.

 Second, declaring the whole counsel of God means we cannot limit ourselves to the New Testament. Pick up a Bible that contains both Old and New Testaments and find the division between the two. Did you notice the size difference? How can we expect to declare the “whole counsel of God” when we neglect the first 75% of His word in our study and teaching? Furthermore, the New Testament is written upon the foundation of the Old. Vital N.T. concepts such as sacrifice, the Temple, God’s chosen people, worship, and others can easily be misunderstood unless we see them through the lens of the O.T. Although the Old Covenant was no longer in effect by the time Paul wrote 2 Tim. 3.16, the “scriptures” he referenced were those of the Old Testament. Thus, time spent meditating on the first three-quarters of scripture will certainly profit us as we seek to understand the last. For example, how can we hope to truly understand the message of the book of Hebrews without a good understanding of the Old Testament?

 Finally, declaring the whole counsel of God does not permit us to choose which parts we will honor or ignore. Thomas Jefferson once used a razor and glue to construct a version of the life/teachings of Jesus which excluded all references to miraculous events, such as His virgin birth, the miracles, and the Resurrection, per Jefferson’s naturalistic worldview. Although few would physically do so today, this sort of “cut and paste” approach to God’s word is rampant. If “All scripture” is divinely inspired by the LORD, then what authority do we have to ignore, adjust, or jettison parts we do not like or agree with? Passages that run counter to our culture, experience, or comfort are just as divinely inspired as those that do not. If we seek to honor God as Lord and King, declaring His whole counsel as the words of life (John 6.63) we must be willing to submit to the entirety of His revealed truth rather than subjecting  troublesome” portions of His word to our judgment. Jesus chastises the scribes and Pharisees for just such an attitude in Mat 23:23 when He says;  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” We can’t cherry pick!

The word of God is a divine feast with multiple courses of exquisite spiritual food with different tastes, textures, and temperatures, all of which is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” If we hope to properly develop spiritually (and help others to do the same), we must learn to declare His whole counsel to ourselves and one another. Learn to develop a taste for every part of the scriptures, and in so doing you will experience the words of God as David described them in Psalm 19.9: “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.”