Acts Highlight Series
ACTS HIGHLIGHT SERIES
GUARDING THE GOSPEL
28 Keep watch over yourselves and all 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.
29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.
30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.
32 "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (NIV)
Paul had dedicated his life to the gospel of Jesus Christ since the Damascus road experience. Now, he was facing the fact that he did not have much longer before his earthly journey would be ended. He was now warning those that would be left to continue the work to “be on guard” for the sake of the gospel.
Paul’s admonition began with an identification of the overseers as shepherds and the church members as sheep. The New Testament pastor was to be a mixture of seer and overseer. As a seer (prophet), he is to be the voice of spiritual direction for the flock. As an overseer, he would see to the spiritual protection of the flock. This would be accomplished by the faithful teaching of God’s Word.
2 Tim 4:2-4
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Jesus also warned of the infiltration tactics of false prophets. Theses “wolves” would appear to be prophets, but would devour the flock. The trusting nature of the sheep would make them susceptible to this ploy.
Matt 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Peter comes along side Paul and Jesus to warn the church again of the damage that would be done by false prophets.
2 Pet 2:1-3
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-- bringing swift destruction on themselves.
2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. (NIV)
The motive behind these wolves is greed. They have no regard for the welfare of the sheep. They intend to “get fat” off the sheep. Paul said that they build their own kingdoms. They are motivated by the love of money, power, or popularity. They are experts at getting money from believers to enhance their ministries and affluent lifestyles. One of the sure signs of a wolf is his rebellion against spiritual authority in his life.
2 Pet 2:10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; (NIV)
Jesus had said that we would recognize them by their fruit. These false prophets can be identified by their lack of holiness. They carouse with the world. There is no difference between them and the sinner.
2 Pet 2:13-14
13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.
14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed-- an accursed brood! (NIV)
They follow the way of Balaam. The way of Balaam was compromise.
2 Pet 2:15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. (NIV)
These men should be sources of life, but there is no life in them. They are good at bragging and boasting. They are also guilty of enticing new converts.
2 Pet 2:17-18
17 These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.
18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. (NIV)
These wolves discourage these new Christians from being in “bondage.” They try to convince them that the teachings of holiness and separation are unnecessary. They convince them that they do not have to change to be “saved.” They say holiness preaching is legalism and a mere restraint to one’s self-fulfillment and happiness.
2 Pet 2:19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity-- for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. (NIV)
Paul refers to these false apostles as masquerading servants of Satan.
2 Cor 11:13-15
13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (NIV)