Editorial By David Kowalski
“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27 ESV)– Advertisement –
Imagine an auto mechanic that only studied and only talked about fuel pumps. Night and day he examined them, read about them, and talked about them, all the while neglecting the rest of the car’s parts. Fuel pumps would be all he mentioned to customers. Almost every repair would seem to him related in some way to fuel pumps. Replacing a fuel pump would be his prescription for most problems the car might develop. A specialist mechanic of this kind would be an ineffective one due to his disproportionate emphasis on just one part of the car. Good mechanics have a well-rounded approach to their job which involves proper knowledge of and consideration to the whole car.
Good ministers of God’s Word are not specialists in the content they proclaim. God does not want us to focus disproportionately on one part of Scriptural teaching. Great preachers preach the whole Word:
“We must preach the full-orbed message of the Word. We must not seek to specialize in any favourite aspect of gospel truth. There is a danger in being looked upon as a specialist preacher — as a ‘prophetical’ or ‘grace’ or ‘faith’ or ‘holiness’ or ‘church’ or ‘dispensational’ or ‘numerical’ — or any other sort of expert.” — Harold Horton
“As we have opportunity we must preach all the topics of the Word, and each in its scriptural proportion.” — R. A. Torrey— Advertisement —
“Indeed, there are times when the exclusive advocacy of certain important truths has the effect of error…So at the present time some of the most precious gospel truths are preached in the interest of some of the most pernicious errors. In other words, the unseasonable or disproportionate presentation of certain truths makes for error.” — Charles Spurgeon
They [heresies] are mostly based on partial or disjointed statements of truth. Truth separated from truth becomes error.” — Charles Bridges
The specialization we must guard against is specialization in one, particular “truth.” Each Christian has differing gifts in which he or she specializes. Also, some believers will legitimately specialize in a specific field of study such as church history, theology, apologetics, or hermeneutics. Nevertheless, in the exercise of the specific gift or in the study of a particular field/concentration, the believer should not limit his or her focus to one “truth.” A theologian should be engaged in all aspects of biblical truth. Someone who teaches hermeneutics should be concerned with the interpretation of the whole Word of God. The apologete should be prepared to contend for the faith at any point at which it may be assailed. Whatever our spiritual gift or specialized field, the whole counsel of God should be kept in view.
To make complete disciples we must attend to the whole Word, as Torrey said, in scriptural proportion. To give just one example of the danger involved in failure to do this, I believe preaching holiness without grace or grace without holiness is a form of error that leads to lopsided Christians.
Some other, exclusive emphases produce distorted disciples. I recall the days of the end-time prophecy craze in the 70’s when that subject seemed to be all some Christians could think or speak of. They had little interest in subjects such as loving one’s enemies or other “boring” topics from the Bible.
Every time I have seen a preacher or movement specialize in one thing, the ministry becomes distorted. Some examples: the discipleship (shepherding) movement, the holiness movement, the grace movement, the faith movement, the deliverance movement, the church growth movement, the emerging church movement and others.
Spurgeon rightly pointed out how a nearly exclusive emphasis can be a form of error. Individual truths always fit within a larger body of truth just as a car part fits into the overall vehicle, taking on its meaning from the larger context. A fuel pump does not pump fuel on its own and a fuel filter filters nothing if fuel does not flow through it — making it inaccurate to call it a filter of fuel. Each part functions only as part of the whole.
Individual, biblical truths are not in their true, biblical form when isolated exclusively from the rest of the body of truth in the Bible. Justification is not biblical justification apart from the truth of sanctification. Love is not biblical love apart from the truth of wisdom. Unity is not biblical unity apart from the truth of “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
An engine does not function on one part alone and a body cannot survive on just one organ. Healthy functioning of either a machine or an organism depends upon the contribution of the various parts that work together to create a working engine or healthy body. The church cannot function on a steady diet of a specialty ministry or message alone. Specialty movements are exciting but unhealthy in isolation.
How about a Christian movement of Bible believers? Instead of preaching a specialty message, how about preaching the gospel message? Is preaching the whole counsel of God just too plain and boring to us?
“I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable” (Acts 20:20 NASB)
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20 NASB)
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