25 “And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.
Acts 20:25-32 (NKJV)
Lets see it from the Amplified version:
24 But none of these things move me; neither do I esteem my life dear to myself, if only I may finish my course with joy and the ministry which I have obtained from [which was entrusted to me by] the Lord Jesus, faithfully to attest to the good news (Gospel) of God’s grace (His unmerited favor, spiritual blessing, and mercy).
Paul was clearly warning the church of his day that wolves would soon enter the church and try to snatch them away. Away from what? Away from the truth.
This is something that is not uncommon in the church today. Everyone is crying wolf, wolf! The problem is many can’t identify the wolf seeing that they are dressed in sheep’s clothing. In some cases some people have falsely accused as the wolf because they seem to represent a threat to the head pastor due to their charisma and knowledge of the Word of God.
I would like us to see it as Paul’s explained it for us to interpret in context.
These wolves were to do the following:
Say perverse (distorted and corrupt) things. To perverse is transposing the truth and twisting it. This would be mixing the grace of God with another.
Paul also in his letter to the church at Ephesus mentioned about such people too.
“5 You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.
When John wrote to the same church in Ephesus in the book of Revelation 2, he expressed the same concerns Jesus had.
1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
Jesus said that they had tried false apostles and seen them as liars. This early church as others were in a period of transition where the Jews their brothers persecuted them because they declared that righteousness was no longer required under the law. That shattered their Jewish foundation at its very root.
These false prophets came in to lure the church into acceptance into the society by mixing the grace of the Lord Jesus with the law of Moses. Even the early believers had a hard time fully accepting God’s grace without the law and they expressed their concern in one particular occasion with Paul in Acts 21 (The Message).
20-21 They had a story to tell, too: “And just look at what’s been happening here—thousands upon thousands of God-fearing Jews have become believers in Jesus! But there’s also a problem because they are more zealous than ever in observing the laws of Moses. They’ve been told that you advise believing Jews who live surrounded by unbelieving outsiders to go light on Moses, telling them that they don’t need to circumcise their children or keep up the old traditions. This isn’t sitting at all well with them.
Many people these days make a lot of derogatory comments about those preaching the grace of God. They call them radical grace preachers and warn people from embracing the grace of God squarely without balance from the law.
These accusations and slander against the grace of God has received applause in many quarters. Unsuspectingly many has been further drawn into more bondage and cannot fully express the life of God in them. In many cases these false teachings have just produced death in the hearers.
How do you identify a wolf or a false preacher?
Pastor Paul White did a fantastic exposition on this, which I want to share with you.
“We must be on guard for the false prophet because they are ravening wolves inside. Wolves feed on sheep, so a good indicator of whether or not you are near a false prophet is not what they act like or look like, because they are wearing “sheep’s clothing” (verse 15). An indicator of a false prophet’s nature is the fruit of their ministry. Are the sheep being whipped and scattered? Are there many who have run from the church because of that ministry? Are the people sitting in the church producing the fruits of the Spirit? The answer to these questions will indicate whether you are near a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
What is the answer to false teaching or bad doctrine? Lets look at Paul’s conclusion in Acts 20.
32 And now [brethren], I commit you to God [I deposit you in His charge, entrusting you to His protection and care]. And I commend you to the Word of His grace [to the commands and counsels and promises of His unmerited favor]. It is able to build you up and to give you [your rightful] inheritance among all God’s set-apart ones (those consecrated, purified, and transformed of soul).
The radical grace of our Lord Jesus is the key to safety and establishment. This grace is pure with no mixture of human efforts and tradition. This gospel builds one up is the one exalts the promises of His unmerited and unearned favour towards through Jesus. It is this truth that releases to us our inheritance as sons and not servants.
Like Paul said your establishment in life should be on the grace of God so that when the evil comes, you will always manifest the victory that is always available in Christ Jesus.