Rev. Paul J Cain
Wednesday of Trinity 8, 13 August 2014
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
For an Elder to Read
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Paul says farewell to the Elders, the Pastors of Ephesus with his words recorded by the Holy Spirit in Acts 20. We know that he will soon be arrested in Jerusalem and will be on his way to Rome. He would be there under house arrest for two years, be released, according to history, conduct a missionary journey to what we know as Spain, return to Rome, and die outside the walls as a martyr.
Paul’s words are words of warning against fierce wolves.
27[Paul said:] For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. 32And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
36And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, 38being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.
Did you hear the words of warning? Pay careful attention. Care for the church of God. Fierce wolves will come in. They will arise from your own selves, the church. They will speak twisted things. I admonish everyone with tears. I commend you to God. It is more blessed to give than receive.
In a week we have heard much about false teachers and false teaching, Paul reminds us that much false teaching within the Church comes from within the Church. Some pastors arise and begin speaking their own thoughts and theologies. They draw away disciples after them and away from Christ. These are false teachers that Jesus also warns us against.
How do we protect ourselves? How does the Lord protect us? He gives us His Word. He abides with us always. He is the Vine and we are the branches.
He teaches us His Word, that we would know it in both mind and heart, so that words of repentance and faith may always be on our lips! Lord, grant that we may hear Your Word so that we may know Your Word so that we may do your Word.
False teaching can be easier to spot if you already know the true teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ from Holy Scripture
True teaching includes both Law and Gospel and ultimately leads you to Jesus and His comfort. False teaching ignores true Law and/or the true Gospel and leads you away from Christ to a false comfort, and to hypocrisy and despair.
We are to identify, expose, and judge false prophets and their false teaching. We do not want anyone to be led astray and led away from Christ. We should love the sheep and even the wolves enough to speak up against falsehood and speak up for Christ’s truth.
And so tonight, we have heard the Word of the Lord. We have sung His Word, and, like Paul, we will pray together based on the Lord’s own priorities as He has made them known in His word.
Beware of fierce wolves. Respect their influence over unwary sheep. Mark and avoid them. Hold fast to the true teaching without ceasing. The Lord Jesus is greater than the roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist the old evil foe, firm in our faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.