Ravenous Wolves
Thursday, February 11, 2010

 

“Keep watch over yourselves and the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.  I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.  So, be on your guard.” (Acts 20:28-31)

                Eldership is a critical task for Christ’s Church.  It carries with it the burden of first and foremost – protecting the flock.  From a biblical standpoint that means protecting sound doctrine and making sure that no one tries to lure the flock away by teachings that appeal to itching ears.  That brings up many issues for the modern church but each must be necessarily addressed.  Examining the passage above, we can see some of the modern weaknesses and problems addressing the church through its elders.

                First, biblical elders are to be appointed by the Holy Spirit, based upon their commitment, biblical knowledge, and their deep desire to serve God in this way.  Modern eldership has become a position attained by default and popular vote.  A committee will come to someone, usually without regard to the scriptural requirements for eldership, and ask them to “throw their hat into the ring.”  No thought is given to what the Holy Spirit is asking for the church.  Then, after the candidacy is declared, the nomination is put to popular vote.  And historically evidence abounds the results are based on popularity, not the candidates commitment to God and the Scriptures.  An elder should arise from men who are committed to Christ, biblical authority, and have an eager desire to serve the Lord in this manner.  After his intentions are declared, existing elders must pray diligently seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  Only after confirmation should an elder be appointed.

                There is sound reason for this process.  The church that elders are watching over is what Christ gave His life for (above and Eph. 5:25-31).  And if Christ abounds, you can be sure His enemy will work even harder to destroy.  Paul made clear that even from within the body; men will rise up to lure the faithful away by lies, distortions, and half truths.  Paul calls these people ravenous wolves, because they are destroying eternal life.   Elders in the modern church see themselves of shepherds of safety and health, but not shepherds of sound doctrine, truth, and eternal life of its flock.  So they willingly allow pastors and visiting preachers preach and teach to their flocks who are not grounded in truth and have agendas to draw people away from the Word of God.

                One of the most critical mistakes I ever made in ministry was allowing a person to take my pulpit in my absence based upon the recommendation of another.  When I returned home I listened to the sermon tape and was in horror of what was taught.  It was heretical, distorted, and designed to gather a following around the preachers own personal doctrine.  I wept bitterly when I realized what I had done.  I apologized to the congregation (many of which were enthralled by this “name it; claim it” theology and others who did not know enough about God’s word to be alarmed).  It was a bitter lesson, but it taught me the essential nature of protecting the flock against distortions and lies about God’s Word.

                Elders must be on their guard.  Not against people who might abuse the building, but against those who would attempt to lure away the people by teachings that are not scriptural.  Pastors, before selected, must undergo diligent screening regarding their doctrine (Titus 2:1).    For pastors will be proclaim 50 or so messages a year to the congregation and it is essential that each message be designed to grow up Christians in the resurrection life, to draw non-Christians to Christ, or to glorify the majestic God he serves.  So the elders have the task of making sure the doctrine is not diluted by modern seminary teachings; that God’s word will be preached in all of its truth; that Scripture will be the foundation upon which all messages are preached; and that the congregation will see Christ exalted each week.

                When elders are seeking recognition; when they serve because no one else will take the job; when they willingly accept the position without the anointing of the Holy Spirit; when they try to exercise the office without knowledge of the Word of God – ravenous wolves will come into the flock and false and distorted teaching will lure them away.  The church is a very precious gift that God has given and He has entrusted it into the hands of men of deep faith.  When a body is led by elders who are not appointed by the Holy Spirit, and led by a daily walk with Him, is a body that is already infested with ravenous wolves.


Kingdom Road Ministries
PO Box 503
10 South Main, Suite 201
Victor, ID 83455
903-262-5088
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