Picture yourself in the shoes of the Apostle Paul. You’ve diligently labored to bring a church up to spiritual maturity in Christ. Yet you know that when you leave, some of the very men you have taught will turn against you, pervert the gospel and lead others into spiritual darkness. What’s more, others from the outside will move in to attack the church. What would you do? You have to leave because there’s work to do elsewhere. Its a troubling moment for Paul. He does leave, but not before delivering a stern and chilling warning.
And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 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. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Acts 20:25-31
Today, Paul’s admonition is just as urgent and necessary as it was in those times. In fact it is even more urgent. With the proliferation of instant media, false teachers can easily reach millions of people and put them in danger.
As an apostle, Paul stood before church leaders whom he had trained for some three years. Its apparent he had deeply invested quite a bit of himself in them. But nonetheless some would still fall into the trap. The contemporary church is in trouble. It has lain dormant in a state of spiritual sluggishness for far too long while threats continue to mount from both inside and out. We now have allowed the enemies of God to show their ugly faces.
What seems to be in short supply these days are preachers who take the ministry of warning seriously. This kind of preacher preaches truth without respect of persons. More and more we’re all having to face this painful reality. Because of the love of money and a failure to walk humbly, more preachers are focusing on filling up the seats rather than care and protection of the flock of God. This is a serious dereliction of duty which endangers the sheep. The church is not a money making junket for men to pay their bills. The church should be a meeting place for the body of Christ. If you didn’t catch our series on the church and the kingdom, read it here, here, and here.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Terry Moore, a Virginia blogger summed things up well:
I have become so frustrated, disgusted, and disillusioned with many of the men and women who call themselves Christian pastors today. I’ve had it just about up to my eyeballs with their spineless and gutless methods of leading their flocks. With the exception of those who pastor fundamentalist churches, most of them refuse to preach about sin or hell anymore.
They spend of all of their time in the pulpit focusing on God’s love, grace, and forgiveness. It’s all well and good to preach about those things, as they are a big part of God’s nature. But there is another side to God – a side of high moral standards and judgment and punishment. When a pastor omits that side of God, it is a clear dereliction of duty.”
- Noah warned the people for 100 years that it was going to rain.
- Jeremiah warned Isreal repeatedly that because of their sin, God would send them into captivity
- Jonah was sent to warn Nineveh that God’s judgment would fall on them.
- In Matthew 24, Jesus warned his disciples among other things that “many false Christs would arise who would deceive many
Likewise, Paul warned the Ephesian elders, told them what was coming and how to withstand it. God is speaking again, warning again, through this blog and through other watchmen on the wall. And although a warning does not mean people will necessarily hear and take heed, it does say much about the goodness of God. He cares enough to warn us so that we can escape the danger.