The ministry of warning


The ministry of warning


J991968Are people who are given a charge to warn people about false teachers a legitimate function in the Body of Christ?

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.

In the text, Paul states “I am pure from the blood of all men”. Why does he say this? The only way to be pure from the “blood of men” is to preach God’s word without error.  Its God’s word that is the foundation for truth and freedom.
“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
Its a given that if  leaders deviate from the Word, they will fall into error. Although God’s messengers teach truth, the message is subject to rejection. As reported by The Foundation-Jesus Christ blog: “Because the truth is not presented to the sheep, biblical illiteracy is at an all time high”. Thus, Paul instructs the overseers to take heed therefore. Whenever the word therefore appears, always look to see what it’s “there for”!  Taking heed means: do not conduct business as usual!
Wolves are nothing to play with! Certainly not ones that are “ravenous” and “grievous”.  A Shepherd has two main responsibilities towards the flock. (1) feed them. Reference Jeremiah 3:15 and (2) guard them with his own life Reference John 10:11.   Sheep must be made aware of the enemy. The wolf’s #1 tactic against the sheep is to appear to be one of them! Calling out the wolf is beneficial for everyone at risk.
Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”  How can you beware if you are not aware?  In Ephesians 5:11 it further tells us: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”  The scripture is certainly clear and Paul, who was the author of Ephesians, does not contradict himself in Acts.
Leaders, wake up and take heed!
At one church I recently attended,  the pastor allowed a itinerant preacher to come in and speak to the congregation. It was very unfortunate the speaker was allowed to regurgitate the unscriptural word of faith doctrine.  But what’s even worst is that the pastor clapped and praised the man. I was astonished that a pastor who had been given the responsibility to guard the sheep actually allowing a false teacher access to the flock. Of course it was “entertaining”. But it seems that protecting the flock has given way to entertaining the flock, and in the long run this can only be detrimental to the spiritual development of those who need it most.
The message coming from many of today’s leaders isnt one of warning, repentance or watchfulness, its a nonstop praise party! Concerts, plays, parties, anniversaries, dances, cruises, comedy shows, musicals, contests, you name it, anything to keep the sheep happy and unaware of the dangers they face. When “preaching” does rise to the top, its nothing more that the latest inspirational best you-better you Osteen-esque therapy session.

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.”

The ministry of warning
The office that comes with authority also comes with a mandate to warn. When authority is given one can almost guarantee there’s a penalty attached for not holding the office with integrity.  Why does God warn people and why does he charge his leaders to warn people?
Because warning allows time for escape to safety. It gives time to prepare and repent, thus avoiding potentially devastating consequences. The ministry of warning in the scripture is expansive in both Testaments.
Consider that:
  • 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.


One thought on “The ministry of warning

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s