Wolves and sheep in the Church of God

Wolves and sheep in the Church of God. In the twentieth chapter of Acts we read about Paul’s journey to Jerusalem. This was his last visit to the places where he preached the Word and made disciples for Christ. Arriving in Ephesus, he called together the elders of the local church:

Acts 20:17
“And having sent from Miletus to Ephesus, he called for the elders of the church.” These people were elders, that is, mature enough in the faith, overseers, as we see in the following verses, appointed by the Holy Spirit to shepherd God’s Church. Upon meeting them, Paul, after first reminding them of how he lived among them, then gives the following warning:

Acts 20:28-31
“Therefore, pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the Church of the Lord and God, which He purchased with His own blood. For I know that after my departure, fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and out of yourselves men will arise, speaking perverse things, in order to draw the disciples after them. Therefore, stay awake, remembering that for three years, night and day, I taught each of you unceasingly with tears.”

The fact that the people Paul spoke to are called overseers, appointed by the Holy Spirit to shepherd God’s Church, does not mean that they themselves were not subject to the warning. Among those who at that moment shepherd God’s Church, there were also those who one day, instead of leading the disciples after Christ, as they once did, will lead them. This is a very strong warning. Service can start very well. A servant of God can be appointed to serve by Themselves – the Lord Himself can make him a presbyter. However, a good start does not necessarily mean a good continuation. Some people will serve the right way. However, others won’t. And although God put them in the service and gave them gifts to serve people, they will eventually begin to use them to lead disciples after themselves, and not after Christ. Dear brother, if you are serving God’s people, be careful to lead people to Christ and not to yourself See that people turn to the Crunch and not to you.

“By their fruits you will know them”

The elders of the church in Ephesus who go astray, and of whom Paul here speaks, are placed in the same category as the wolves who will come in to them after Paul’s departure, not sparing the flock. The difference between a sheep and a wolf in God’s flock is not outward; outwardly, both of them can resemble sheep. The difference is in what fruits they bring. As the Lord said:

Matthew 7:15-23

“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do they gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? So every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me: “Lord, Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day: Lord! God! Have we not prophesied in Your name? and did they not cast out demons in your name? and did not many miracles work in your name? And then I will declare to them: I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of iniquity.”

It is interesting that the Lord speaks about people who will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, immediately after the words about false prophets and how they can be recognized. False prophets also say, “Lord! God!” In the name of Christ they work miracles and prophesy. However, all this does not make them true disciples. Neither words, nor miracles, nor prophecies are the criterion for distinguishing truth from untruth, a wolf from a sheep. The difference is the fruit that a person bears. And the fruits are spoken of in the fifth chapter of Galatians:

Galatians 15:19-21
“The works of the flesh are known; they are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, magic, enmity, strife, envy, wrath, strife, disagreements, temptations, heresies, hatred, murders, drunkenness, outrageousness, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

A person can say that he knows the Lord. He may even have performed miracles in His name. Perhaps he prophesied in the name of Christ. However, would that make him a true sheep before entering God’s Kingdom if his fruits are listed in the previous passage? As the Lord said and then Paul repeats: “NO!” And as James said:

James 2:14-18
“What good is it, my brethren, if someone says that he has faith, but does not have works? can this faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and does not have food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat,” but does not give them the necessities of the body, what is the use? So faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself. But someone will say: “You have faith, and I have works”: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith from my works.

Many brethren do not understand this passage. Especially the phrase: “Can this faith save him?” 

– confuses many. However, this passage is not talking about true faith, but about someone saying they have faith. It says here: “If anyone says he has faith…” Faith that exists only in words does not save.

Romans 10:9-10 does not say, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved.” It says this:

Romans 10:9-10
“For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved, because with your heart you believe to righteousness, but with your mouth you confess to salvation.”

“They believe with their hearts.” A confession is true if the heart is in agreement with it. And if there is faith in the heart, then the fruit will be corresponding. “So every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” It is impossible to have faith and not have the corresponding fruits. Outwardly, wolves and sheep look the same, namely like sheep. The difference is only in the fruits. The wolf bears the fruits described in Galatians 5:19-21, and the sheep bears the fruits described in Galatians 5:22-23.

Galatians 5:22-23
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, mercy, faith, meekness, temperance. There is no law for them.”

So let’s take care of ourselves (Acts 20:28). Let us test ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). What fruit do our hearts bear? Fruit from Galatians 5:19-21 or Galatians 5:22-23? It is useless to say, “Lord! God!” and speak big words if our hearts are out of order. It is useless to honor the Lord with our lips if our hearts are far from Him.

Isaiah 29:13
“And the Lord said: … this people draws near to Me with their mouth, and honors Me with their tongue, but their heart is far from Me.”

And 1 Samuel 16:7
“I don’t look like a man looks; for man looks at the face, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

The Lord cares what is in the heart. So let it be clean, let it be a clean house for the Lord, full of joy and good fruit.

Source: Волки и овцы в церкви Божьей (bibletruths.ru)