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June 24, 2007

The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Acts 20:27, NKJV.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) said in The Soul Winner, "A faulty exhibition of Christ begets a faulty faith; and when this pines away in its own imbecility, who is to blame for it?"


Spurgeon was known as one of the great evangelists of the eighteenth century, often called the Prince of Preachers who had become one of the most popular British preachers of his day.

In 1850, Spurgeon had committed his life to Christ and then four years later he became pastor of the New Park Street Church at the age of 20. Today the church is named the Metropolitan Tabernacle, which is located in London England.

There are several statements throughout this text that are strikingly relevant to today's ministry of the Word of God as it was in the 1800's during Spurgeon's days as an evangelistic preacher. I would highly recommend reading this message too.

One statement Spurgeon made was, "Some enthusiasts would seem to have imbibed the notion that, as soon as a minister addresses the unconverted, he should deliberately contradict his usual doctrinal discourses, because it is supposed that there will be no conversions if he preaches the whole counsel of God. It just comes to this, brethren, it is supposed that we are to conceal truth, and utter a half-falsehood, in order to save souls. We are to speak the truth to God's people because they will not hear anything else; but we are to wheedle sinners into faith by exaggerating one part of truth, and hiding the rest until a more convenient season. This is a strange theory and yet many endorse it."

Now if you did not know the definition of the word wheedle, do not feel bad, neither did I. The word wheedle means to endeavor to influence (a person) by smooth, flattering, or beguiling words or acts. Hey, didn't the serpent tempt Eve with beguiling words too?

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans (Romans 16:16-18, NKJV) instructs us to avoid such people who teach a doctrine which is contrary to what Paul had taught them, which was from God. He tells us in verse 18, "For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple."

Sadly, many of today's churches have submitted to strategies and techniques found in Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Church. I am very familiar with this book since I had read it and compared it diligently to the Scriptures and found several contradicting statements made by the author, particularly the misinterpretation of several verses of Scripture. (I am not the only one to have negatively criticized this book either, several others have also and you can choose to read any of the listed critiques at the end of this message.)

The book advises pastors to run their churches in certain aspects to grow the church in numbers, using a seeker-friendly approach. This approach has created much controversy among Christians for the "business-like" and even application of a strategic marketing approach used by businesses to grow and expand the reach of their organization's product or service. The goal of such activities is to ultimately grow their business and increase their revenues. This sounds to me that if a church follows this type of model, can grow its number of attendees and potentially see an increase for tithes (financial gifts) to the church.

Uh…shouldn't a church be motivated to obey Jesus' command to "go into the entire world and preach the Gospel, to make disciples of all the nations? (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV).

If a church obediently followed steadfastly in doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers, the Lord will add to the church, even daily those who are being saved (Acts 2:42-47, NKJV). Obedience to what God has instructed the church to do would far surpass any strategy book on church growth.

A seeker-friendly church desires to draw people to the church by its sermons, which often exclude any mention of sin, the need for repentance, even mentioning certain words such as born-again, salvation or non-believer. A pastor of a seeker-friendly church feels, according to Rick Warren, these types of terms are not relatable or are too exclusive toward non-Christians and makes them feel uncomfortable.

In Matthew 10:5-15, NKJV, Jesus instructs His disciples to go and preach to the lost house of Israel and that there will be those who will receive their message of repentance and those who would not. Those who rejected the message to repent would suffer a worse judgment than what had occurred in Sodom and Gomorrah.


Matthew Henry's Commentary of Matthew 10:5-15, NKJV, illustrates for us the urgent need to the pastor as well as the unrepentant sinner, the necessity to hear a full and clear explanation of the message of the Gospel. Failing to do so holds a penalty far greater for the pastor than for the unrepentant sinner. For such a person to think they are being obedient to God's work in being cautious with them, not to offend them is preposterous.

Henry writes, "The whole counsel of God must be declared, and those who will not attend to the gracious message, must be shown that their state is dangerous. This should be seriously laid to heart by all that hear the gospel, lest their privileges only serve to increase their condemnation."

Spurgeon further writes, "we are to tell believers that salvation is all of grace, but sinners are to be spoken with as if they were to save themselves; we are to inform Christians that God the Holy Spirit alone can convert, but when we talk with the unsaved, the Holy Ghost is scarcely to be named. We have not so learned Christ. Thus, others have done; let them be our beacons, and not our examples. He who sent us to win souls neither permits us to invent false-hoods, nor to suppress truth."

Some of the disciples of Jesus felt that what He was teaching was too hard for them to apply to their lives and they chose to no longer follow Him. He even asked those who remained with Him if they were offended by what He was teaching and knew that some of them still did not believe in who He was. (John 6:60-66, NKJV). Jesus didn't suppress the truth nor the necessary cost of following Him (Luke 9:23, NKJV), in any of His teachings.

Simon Peter shares with us the only hope they had in following Jesus because there was no other hope in any other person and they believed in whom He claimed to be, "the Christ, the Son of the living God." (John 6:69, NKJV).
In Acts 2, Peter preached about Jesus Christ where people were "cut to the heart" by what he had said to them and 3,000 people committed to becoming born-again as Jesus taught Nicodemus (John 3:1-19, NKJV).


The Gospel of Jesus Christ really is good news for an unrepentant sinner once they understand and realize the gravity of the bad news they will face one day, their appointment of death and then the judgment (Hebrews 9:27, NKJV).

It is every Christian's responsibility to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ completely and without fear. An offended person who is hearing something that is uncomfortable is because the message is exposing their sin and the consequence of it. For this, an unrepentant sinner should be grateful for hearing this and for the eternal life they will have, if they have acknowledged their sin, the consequences of it by God, repented and placed their trust and faith in Jesus Christ.

If a person sets aside the grace of God, making Christ's death in vain (Galatians 2:21, NKJV), "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31, NKJV).

Certainly a person should not just hear a doom and gloom sermon about God and "you're going to hell if you don't accept Christ in your life!" However, if one has effectively declared the whole counsel of God to an unrepentant sinner, presenting the Good News and the bad news, the Good News will be good news if they have understood the consequences of the bad news.

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 1 Corinthians 9:16, NKJV.



References
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible is available in the Public Domain.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Spurgeon, C.H. (n.d.). Retrieved June 24, 2007 from
http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/sw01.htm
Purpose Driven Church Critiques
http://www.biblebb.com/files/purpose.htm - This link alone provides enough in-depth analysis of the book and its erroneous biblical teaching.

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