A Voice in the
"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears." (Acts 20:26-31)
At this great Asia-Minor "Pastors' Conference" Paul first of all claims to have completed his mission of declaring to them complete doctrine. In fact later, as he writes to some of them, he reminds them that the complete Gospel of the "Grace of Christ" had ALREADY been preached... and if any would change it, "let him be accursed." (Gal1:8)
Faithfulness in ministry was expressed by God, "Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness...he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul." (Ezek 3:19) Paul declares his faithfulness, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness..." (2 Tim 4:7-8)
Next, Paul exhorts these pastors to be faithful to the their task. He says, "take heed to yourselves and the flock." Beware, give attention, be devoted. It is easy to understand the feeding and nurturing aspects..."Shepherd the flock of God ...as overseers.." (1 Pet 5:2)
But he warns "take heed." Why? Because "savage wolves" will come, "not sparing" the flock. This is pretty easy to understand. After all, Peter says, "Be sober, be vigilant; your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Pet 5:8)
We see the "roaring lion" everyday. Radical cults and religions which persecute Christians. If a Christian stands up for righteousness, he may have to forsake a job, a promotion; or may "suffer" ridicule and perhaps lose friends.
As we gain understanding, we can also recognize the "roaring lion" in various religions, called "christian," that have martyred True Be- lievers by the thousands throughout history, even though these religions are now joining together in "unity." We might see it in movements like Promise Keepers, March for Jesus, Laughing Revival, Satan worship, eastern mystical New Age.
But Paul also says, "...from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves." This is the part that is not always as obvious. After all, this is Sa- tan's best methodology. To APPEAR AS a Christian. "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light." (2Cor11:13-14)
What form do these "false apostles" take? The first recorded one was Judas Iscariot. He was "chosen" along with the other 11. He participated in the "two-by-two" mission, preaching the Kingdom of Heaven. Even when he was sent out by Jesus to perform the betrayal, the rest were so unaware, they thought he was either going to buy supplies or give to the poor...some sort of "good deed." (Jn 13:28-29)
Jesus taught that until Judgment, the "wheat and tares" would be found together.(Mt13) But that in the end the tares would be separated out and burned. Paul says of them, "whose end will be according to their works." (2Cor11:15)
How can we know the wolves and lions? By their teaching. But, in order to tell the false, we must know the Truth very well. Some of them spend the majority of their "ministries" ferreting out the false reli- gions, pointing out the "bad." But, very rarely (if ever) present God's Word. Their claim? "Darkness helps to 'shine light on' God's Word, so that people will be drawn to God's Word."
Even in worldly terms this thinking is flawed. Bankers, for instance, in receiving training to detect counterfeit money are not taught all the intricacies of counterfeit money, as much as they Spend a Lot of Time with the "real stuff." They live, breathe, feel...Real Money. They then recognize the false, because it's different from the real.
Where does the light come from? "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."(Ps119:105) God's Word IS LIGHT. It is not necessary for any light to shine on God's Word. God's Word exposes evil as It shines on the darkness of sin. A local minister a couple years ago expressed to me that my reluctance to read various commentaries and "famous" authors was a prime way for false doctrine to creep in...because I expressed my PRIMARY SOURCE to be God's Word. "..Indeed, let God [and His Word] be true but every man a liar.." (Rom 3:4)
More recently a "minister" expressed, essentially, that God's Word ALONE is not always sufficient to "reach" people. That when God's Word doesn't reach them, we then (I suppose) "shock them" with the evil. Understand! If God's Word didn't reach them, then, they did not come to the LORD God. "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." (Isa 55:11)
When the "wolves" do teach from Scripture, they do so with distor- tions and out-of-context applications. Such deft manipulation caused a cult leader ("no names church") to tell me once that "we are ALL 'Christ'." John reminds us, "Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is [THE] Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either.." (1Jn 2:22-23)
Another great perversion of God's Word by the "wolves" was proph- esied, "..scoffers will come in the last days..saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming?'"(2Pet3:3-4) We can easily see the teachings of Darwinian evolution in these verses.
But not so apparent is the exponential rise of teaching and conversion to the "post-trib..pre-wrath..no-rapture" positions. Almost in the same proportion as Bible teachers are "falling" from Sound Doctrine, they are switching to a non-Pre-Tribulation Rapture position. Some of the "wolves" even teach that we are "now" (Nov17,96) IN the Tribulation period!
This falsehood effectively keeps many from watching for Jesus' return for His own, to "receive" them to Himself.(Jn14:3) Jesus exhorted, "Two.. will be..[together]: one will be taken [taken to, joined to, received by/unto...Christ] and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming."(~Mt24:40- 42)
Judas, literally, "the praise of the Lord; confessing Christ." (in "sheep's clothing) Was also Iscariot, "a man of murder, a hireling." ("wolf") As we see "ministers" let us look past the first name, to see whether there may be a second name, which tells the true nature. "Take heed...and watch, therefore!"
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes will find so doing.(Mt24:45- 46)