Paul warned the Ephesians, as the church there was gathered together, that they needed to watch out. They needed to be sure and keep an eye on themselves and the whole church. Trouble was coming.
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29-30)
Is this possible, and could this conceivably happen today – in America, in 2015 – in the church?
The real question should be, “why wouldn’t this happen”? Or, “how could this not happen” – is there any possible way?
The simple fact is that it is happening. It has been happening. And it will continue to happen.
Of course there are “grievous wolves” within the congregations of Christians. Think on this for a bit. (And think spiritually, not physicially.)
- “Wolves” indicates they mean harm to Christ’s “sheep” – actual Christians
- These wolves say they are Christians.
- These wolves go to church.
- These wolves kill and eat sheep. This means they utterly destroy flocks. A wolf – or wolves – will go inside of a church and kill every sheep in the flock. From the inside.
- Wolves are cunning. Wolves sneak, and stalk, and then pounce and attack at an opportune time.
- Sheep are no match for the strength of a wolf, once a wolf is close enough to them, or in the midst of the sheep.
- There will be wolves. They aren’t rare or unheard of. They don’t sometimes attack, and sometimes nurture sheep. No, they are common and are always a threat to sheep.
So who are these wolves? How is a sheep supposed to spot one?
The obvious warning from Paul is that a wolf will “speak perverse things”. They will speak – teach or preach – things that are not aligned with the Bible. This is very simple.
They will oppose what scripture says.
How? By altering it. By saying it means something different than it plainly says. By claiming it doesn’t apply any longer. By claiming the Bible has an error in translation. There are many ways they have, of getting around the plain truth of the Bible.
And people want to hear things that please them. Many times, they are willing to believe anti-Biblical teaching.
There are simple tests to clearly test for a “wolf”. The answers will make things more obvious. Ask the following questions…
- Did the churches always believe this way – or is this teaching “new” or “updated”?
- Does this teaching require changing the plain words of the Bible?
- What is the fruit of this teaching? What will be the eventual fruit of this teaching, if it is allowed to play out over months or years?
- Who are the other people who agree with or support this teaching? Are they allies of God and His people? Do they love and obey the Bible, or do they normally oppose the Bible?
- Does this teaching line up with the other well-known, obvious, plain, traditional lessons of the Bible?
Detecting and defending against wolves does require a couple of things. It requires critical thinking – examination of all the facts. To do this, you must be honest about what you observe and give everything consideration. Second, it requires you to read. The Bible, first, and you may need to read and know some things about history. But if you have read the Bible all the way through, you will be a tough sheep to fool. Wolves have a hard time deceiving people who are rooted and grounded in the truth.
Read the Bible. And watch out for the wolves. They are among us.