I am taking a short break from the Psalm 119 posts as I prepare for Zambia and try to finish a couple classes (please pray for me!).
This morning during my reading and prayer time, my mind kept coming back to Acts 20. Paul tells the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28-29, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the flock of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”
Have you ever considered how much of the NT is devoted to warning against false teaching and false teachers? We have one NT book wholly devoted to the Gospel-perverting error of the Judaizers, which is of course Galatians. We have two books devoted to exposing and warning against false teachers, 2 Peter and Jude. We also have numerous warnings, especially Paul, where Paul calls out false teachers by name (Hymenaeus and Alexander, Demas, Alexander the coppersmith, and even Peter when he strayed from the truth of the Gospel).
In our adult Sunday School, we have been spending time investigating the Word of Faith movement. I have been exposing false teaching. It is hardly one of my favorite things to do, but if we take the call to shepherd the flock seriously, we must guard the flock from wolves. Sometimes the sheep do not see the canis lupus nature of some of their favorite teachers. With the proliferation of books, radio and TV programs, podcasts, and websites, the danger is as great as ever. John Gill describes the wolves as “fleecing the flock, instead of feeding it, making merchandise of it… poisoning them with their errors and heresies…”
God gives pastors to the flock as watchmen (this is Paul’s imagery from Ezek. 3 and 33). Watchmen protected the walls of the city from invaders. Shepherds protected the flock from wolves. The metaphors are the same. God has called and equipped pastors to be able to spend time in the Word and doctrine so that they can better help protect the sheep. Thankfully, not all my time is spent studying error and heresy. Thankfully I can spend most of my time trying to feed the flock healthy food for their spiritual growth. But it is necessary at times to dig into the rubbish heaps because some of God’s people are going there to eat!
As one who will give an account to the Lord on the last day, I must fulfill my ministry and that means “guarding the flock.”