The ActsCHALLENGE brought us to Acts 20:17-38. Paul is warning the elders of the church at Ephesus, a church in which he had invested, of the attack of the coming wolves. Paul describes the men as those who will distort the truth, twisting things in order to draw away disciples after them. As said during Connection, we have the opportunity to look at whether or not this happened during the history of the first century Church. In 1 Timothy 1:19-20 and 4:1-3 we saw that these men had, indeed, crept in and "shipwrecked" the faith of some. Paul goes as far as calling them out by name! A year or two later, Paul writes 2 Timothy 1:15, 2:17-18 where he continues to call these men out and equip fellow church planter--Timothy--on defending the gospel, the standard of sound words.
It got extrememly errie when we observed what Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:1-9, where Paul describes these type of men who will come during the last days (which we are in according to Acts 1). Look at the list:
- lovers of self
- lovers of money
- disobedient to their parents
- without self-control
- not loving good
- swollen with conceit
- lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God
- having appearance of godliness, but denying it's power
- leading away weak people
- always learning and never able to arrive at the knowledge of the truth
- opposing truth
- men corrupted in mind
- disqualified regarding the faith
It isn't the end of Ephesus. They're also mentioned in Revelation 2:1-7. You might want to check it out too.
Thus, the assessment tool. How does theGATHERING leadership Biblically assess the flock? The emphasis, of course, is how does the Word, how does God assess people? So, we talked about these two tools that we've been using to assess with the word of God and the Spirit of God. People who come into a church need to be assessed so that the church leaders can identify who they are and what they need; how to use the gospel in the lives of the flock.
The Assessment: (From Confessions of a Reformission Rev by Mark Driscoll)
Horses are vibrant leaders who pull a lot of weight and run fast. Horses need to have character, sound doctrine, and agree with the vision of the church.
Colts are emerging leaders who need training, testing, and opportunities to lead. If properly broken in, a colt can be develop0ed into a horse
Fish are non-Christians who are spiritually lost and often not actively looking for God. Fish need a Christian friend to lovingly introduce them to Jesus and his church.
Eagles are skilled leaders who are being developed within the church with the express kingdom purpose of leaving the proverbial nest and leading a ministry elsewhere, such as taking the gospel to the nations and church planting.
Mules are faithful workers who dependably and continually do whatever is asked of them in the church. Mules need to be thanked and protected from burnout.
Cows are selfish people who wander from church to church, chewing up resources without ever giving back to the church until they kill it.
Squirrels are people who are generally liked because they are nice, but they rarely do anything meaningful. Squirrels need to be put to work in the church.
Stray cats are socially peculiar longers who linger around the church. Strays need a friend to help bring them into the church and an opportunity to serve other people so that they can be meaningfully connected to the church.
Rats are people who appear to have the potential to have a fruitful ministry, but they lack dependability, humility, or maturity. Rats need to be rebuked, and if they don't repent, they must be strategically ignored until they commit to no longer being a waste of time and effort.
Sheep are people who have legit needs that require patient and loving support. Examples of sheep include widows, orphans, and those who are seriously ill or fighting addictions. Sheep need to be loved and served (rather than trying to lead).
Ducks are disgruntled people who continually quack about whatever they are unhappy about. Ducks need to stop quacking, or the pastor(s) must go duck hunting before the ducks drown out everyone and everything else in the church.
Snakes are evil people sent by the Serpent on a mission to destroy the church through anything from sexual sin, starting rumors, and causing division through going to everyone else about someone's sin instead of the person they're talking about. Leaders must stomp on the heads of snakes before they bite more people and infect them with deadly venom. (Their talk spreads like gangrene)
Wolves are false teachers whom Satan sends into the church to devour Jesus' sheep. Wolves need to be quickly identified, rebuked, and if they are unrepentant, they must be shot before their false teaching destroys people within the church. Anytime someone looks at the word and says, "It says that, but..." is in danger of being a wolf.
*the list is not mine. It came from @pastormark. The book is worth the investment.
Paul told the Ephesian elders to be aware (Acts 20). He told Timothy "hold fast to the faith, rejecting men who have made shipwreck of their faith" (1 Timothy 1:20), saying, " their talk will spread like gangrene "(2:17), and "avoid such people (3:5). Paul told Titus the same thing, "As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful: he is self-condemend (Titus 3:10)."
IN ALL OF THESE CASES, it is the leadership calling out the wolves. Be alert.
What do you do with all of this? I can't emphasize to you enough the need to allow the Holy Spirit to evaluate YOUR heart first. Ask the Lord, "God, which of these am I?" When God reveals sin, He does so in a loving, yet forceful way. THEN, approach someone who knows you well and whom you respect their walk with Jesus. SAY, "I feel like the Lord is showing me that I am a __________, what do you think about that?" Give them the freedom to speak gospel-centered truth into your life. This, friends, is what a gospel-change community looks like. Change is a community project.
For the kingdom,
You can listen to the audio of "Don't You Be Dancing With Wolves" as apart of the ACTSChallenge by going to theGATHERING's podcast.