Day 20: “Savage Wolves”

               Yesterday we talked about the back and forth of going to church without results. Not only have there been very few results; the church has gone backward not forward and has slowed down the coming of Jesus to take us into eternity. Jeremiah 7:24 “But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.” Yes most in the church bought into this back and forth mentality and have settled with the acts of going to church and the entertainment of church instead of being the church and going out in power. Most don’t even know the power of the Holy Spirit is missing. In North America most everyone has access to a bible, either a physical copy or one found online. Just type into Google read the bible online and there you go. I use Bible Gateway. You can even have it read to you. Yet with all the teaching that is available online, the church still is not following God’s word so just maybe the teaching is in question.  
                But before we get to that questionable teaching, most in the church actually do think they are following wholeheartedly, yet people in the church even though they have been back and forth all their lives, are still illiterate to God’s word, His plan and the power that goes with His plan. Yes you may be a hardcore Baptist or Catholic or Pentecostal but you have been blinded by those particular distinctives. The church is content to read about Jesus but not to be like Him and do as he did. This is what He did and this is what we were to continue just as His disciples did. Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.” Most in the church are quite comfortable just reading about the old, old story of Jesus not even thinking that those accounts should be happening today. They have adapted to the dim light, their captivity, being sick and the presence of evil spirits. Their desolation has become quite comfortable.
                Much of this has to do with a lack of understanding. This lack of understanding is deadly. Isaiah 5:13 “Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding.” Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Jeremiah spends some time on this. He said, Jeremiah 4:22 “My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding.” Jeremiah 5:20 “Announce this to the descendants of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah: 21 Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: 22 Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it. 23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. 24 They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God.” In the song of Moses we are told, Deuteronomy 32:16 “They abandoned the God who made them and rejected the Rock their Savior. They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. 17 They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God— gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your ancestors did not fear. 18 You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth. 19 The Lord saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. 20 “I will hide my face from them,” he said, “and see what their end will be; for they are a perverse generation, children who are unfaithful. 21 They made me jealous by what is no god 28 They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them. 29 If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be!”
                So you have a people without understanding who week after week attend a church where they think the person leading them has understanding but here is the problem. Even though there is a lack of understanding by the people, that lack of understanding can come from those who are leading them. Jeremiah goes on to say Jeremiah 5:31 “The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” You have to wonder why the people love it this way. For years people have sought out the gurus either by buying their books or DVD’s or whatever method they were selling. Other wanted to be like them. Once someone got popular enough their book sales alone made them millionaires. Some even do not receive a salary but live off their book sales. There is a lot of profit being made on church but this is wrong. Paul says 2 Corinthians 2:17 “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.” Today’s church has committed idolatry by idolizing its leaders present and past but where is the power. These gurus do not have power from on High. Remember there is a huge difference between power from on High and powerful. Many church leaders are powerful but have no power. James is a good test for this. James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
                Today’s church is a business. Some churches are multi-million dollar organizations. One young pastor said he didn’t go to seminary (not that I am promoting seminaries) but went to business school, which he felt served a better purpose for building the church. As I listened to him this young man was, let me say politely, very ignorant of the scripture he tried to speak from yet his church was growing but was it? Yes it will see some temporal results but for those who followed him, will it be results that lead to eternal life or damnation. For many leaders in the church, ministry is a job that provides an income. There are many in the church that should not have this job and I am not just talking about the unsuccessful ones.
                Today’s church is filled with false teachers and prophets. Sadly many who think they are being led on the right path have been deceived. 2 Peter 2:17 “These people 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 the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” How many people that have gone to church over the years can be described this way.
                Not only do we have false teachers, they are senseless shepherds. To make matters even worse Jesus describes them as ferocious wolves. Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Paul describes them as savage wolves. Acts 20:29 “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.” So we have been warned. When you look at these teachers you may not see it, but the wolf is there ready to tear you to pieces. The ministries will look as though God blesses them but they teach other gospels and as Paul said distort the word of the Lord. Again I am not just talking about the charismatics but the two I am thinking of are non-charismatic. Millions are following these false teachers and millions will hear Matthew 25:41 “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
                The true teacher is a watchman. Ezekiel 33:7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.” This is a huge responsibility but instead of watchman Lamentations 2:14 “the visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” Jeremiah 23:16 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ 18 But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word? 19 See, the storm of the Lord will burst out in wrath, a whirlwind swirling down on the heads of the wicked. 20 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly. 21 I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.” Leaders in the church need to take this verse more seriously. James 3:1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” If you are not correctly handling the word of God, the lives of those who listen to you are in danger.          
                Ezekiel goes on to say to these shepherds, Ezekiel 34:34 “The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.” 7 “‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them. Jeremiah says, Jeremiah 23:1 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord.”
                The wolf is not supposed to be in the pen with the sheep. That would be disastrous yet the savage and ferocious wolves are in the church. Everywhere you look, the church has fallen to senseless shepherds who are ferocious and savage wolves. Jeremiah 10:21 “The shepherds are senseless and do not inquire of the Lord; so they do not prosper and all their flock is scattered.” 
                This is not how it is supposed to be but truth has been thrown down and the church has fallen to our enemies. Men and woman stand at the front preaching other gospels and the people love it this way but what will you do in the end? If the gospel was truly being preached, falseness would be exposed and we would be saved from captivity. We would also have understanding and knowledge. 1 Corinthians 12:8 “To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit.” 1 John 5:20 “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” John 4:23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Those who teach should be teaching truth. Malachi 2:5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. 7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth.” I don’t think there is a false teacher out there telling you they are a false teacher but if you listen closely you will know. Jesus said, Matthew 7:5 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” Plus satan is incredibly arrogant and he will tell you what the problem is if listen carefully.
                If we don’t have true instruction, then people will not have understanding simply because they do not know they need to seek truth as they think they already have it. For example you may have a new believer go to a cessationist church. They are told this is what the bible means and they say oh okay and accept this lie. Or they are told there will be a rapture and on and on the deception goes and millions of people will not see eternal life because they had been led astray by false teachers.
                But it is not to late. You may have asked or questioned and the answer given left you empty. Don't stop searching. Keep looking for the truth and if you have to run away because the savage wolves will tear you to pieces. Don’t be afraid to stand on God’s word. Don’t be afraid to trust God to guide you and make your paths straight. The day is coming when the true teachers will no longer be hidden. Isaiah 30:19 “People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Jeremiah 3:14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.” Isaiah 11:2 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— 3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”
                The good news is that we have the words of the good shepherd. Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Matthew 2:6 “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Matthew 9:5 “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”
                So today are you listening to the voice of the good shepherd? John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Hebrews 13:20 “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”