This passage is important because in the final moments of a person’s life, you hear the distillation of his ministry to a people. What do we hear from Paul in these moments? How do his words relate to ministry to children and youth?
Teaching in a life-on-life context. Declaring the whole counsel of God is a personal, life-on-life issue. The word of God transmitted through the life of another person is not just a tool, but the foundation of personal ministry.
Teaching has culpability because James says that those who teach will be judged with greater strictness. Paul’s ministry was of such a character that he would know he was innocent if any of them were eternally lost. This suggests that innocence on the part of a teacher is possible. But, there are many people who have never considered the question of how to declare the whole counsel of God in teaching. Because of this, some teachers are guilty.
Teaching with courageous consistency. To “shrink back” from the whole counsel of God would be to not have faith in the entirety of the message of the Bible. To faithfully teach the Bible is to teach every part of it, not just the parts we like.
Thorough teaching is the kind of teaching that encompasses biblical Christianity in a unified, balanced and comprehensive way. Nothing important is left out. Unified teaching connects the content of the Bible to the redemptive arc of the Bible, and demonstrates that all of those things relate. Balanced teaching helps children to know what it most important. It means that you teach the “ands” in the Bible; that the paradoxes of God’s character matter. Comprehensive teaching wrestles with big-picture questions that span the length of the canon.
Paul was aware of the dangers all around and he urged teachers to be on guard. He knew what the human heart was capable, and he knew the devices of the enemy, which made teaching the whole counsel of God all the more important to him. Today, we live in a postmodern culture, in which truth is under attack. Knowing the whole counsel of God helps us stay grounded in truth in the midst of this culture. We must declare the whole counsel of God urgently because the voices in our culture are getting louder, and more distinct from Biblical truth.
We are in good care when God is sovereign and the Word of God is a part of our lives. God is sovereign and his word still has power. The Word not only gives life, but helps us persevere to the end. The grace of God and the Word of God guarantees that our children who love Jesus will persevere to the end.