Summary: To hear animal rights people tell it, wolves are the most lovable creatures there are. But really, wolves are vicious, bloodthirsty killers. In Acts 15:1-2, spiritual wolves arrive to counter Paul’s teaching of salvation by grace alone through faith alone
The Wolves Close In
August 28, 2016
TEXT: Acts 15:1-2 – “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.”
Wolves are getting a good name lately. I went on the Internet to research wolves for this sermon, and I want to tell you, the animal rights people have taken over when it comes to wolves. To hear them tell it, wolves are the sweetest, most lovable darling little critters on earth! And if we’d all just connect with our inner wolves, we’d all be so much better off.
But folks, let me tell you something: In reality, a wolf is a VICIOUS KILLER! If you were a shepherd, you’d know this is true. Wolves travel in packs—and they are cunning and brutal and bloodthirsty. And if you’re not careful, they’ll annihilate a flock of sheep in no time at all.
In our text, we see that just as Christianity is starting to take root, wolves show up for dinner! So as we look at Acts 15:1-2, I want us to think about wolves:
I. NOTE FIRST OF ALL THAT WOLVES ARE ALWAYS ON THE PROWL. – Acts 15:1 – “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren,…”
I read an article once about sheep farmers out in the Rocky Mountains. The sheep farmers are always on the lookout for wolves. You know why?—Because wolves are always on the lookout for sheep! If the sheep farmers and shepherds don’t protect the sheep, they’re helpless against the wolves because wolves are always on the prowl—ever alert to new opportunities to catch their unsuspecting prey off guard.
Jesus warned us against SPIRITUAL wolves who would devour God’s people with false doctrines – He said in Matthew 7:15 – “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
When Paul ordained elders at Ephesus, he warned of wolves who would devour the flock at Ephesus. – He told them, “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. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28-30)
Jesus and Paul weren’t the only New Testament writers to warn about spiritual wolves. EVERY SINGLE New Testament writer gave warnings of some kind against false teachers who could lead them away from truth into the bondage of false teachings
Paul warned that this would be especially marked in the last days before Antichrist’s rise.In the last 150 years, we’ve seen this happen before our very eyes with a proliferation of false teachings and false teachers and false religions—Mormonism; the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science cult, the Black Muslims, Spiritualism and in more recent years, the floodgates of deception opened up when a profusion of new religions based on Eastern mysticism, New Age concepts and occultism invaded the West.
Believers should be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 where it says the Bereans, “…received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
If there ever was a day we should be discerning like the Bereans—it’s today!
II. MY SECOND POINT IS THIS: ALL WOLVES HAVE THE SAME NATURE.
Illus. – Real wolves in the wild have the same basic instincts. They have a very complicated and structured system of stalking their prey. One wolf sneaks up on the prey while the rest of the pack stealthily surrounds it on the opposite side. Suddenly the lone wolf lunges at the prey, driving it unknowingly into the clutches of the pack, where they attack en masse.
Now I’m not saying spiritual wolves use this tactic exactly as their animal counterparts. What I’m saying is that A WOLF WILL ALWAYS ACT LIKE A WOLF. So examine what the CORE MESSAGE of a spiritual wolf is, and you’ll see that it’s the same core message that every other spiritual wolf has, because all wolves are just a variation of the same type of animal that thinks like all the others of its species.
These wolves who came into the churches in Acts 15 taught a doctrine that is taught by every false religion, false denomination, cult and most false teachers throughout history—which is that one is saved by works, or by adding works to grace.