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September 24, 2007
When Do We Call Them Wolves?

". . . they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way." Judges 2:19
By Pastor Ralph Ovadal

The Lord Jesus Christ has warned His people, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matthew 7:15). Most Christians would rightly agree that the wolves in sheep's clothing, the false prophets, of whom our Lord warned are those who lead the Lord's flock into error, by word and deed, with false teachings. Our Lord said that such wolves will come in sheep's clothing. They will, in many convincing ways, dress themselves as true members of His flock. But in reality, inwardly and practically, they are ravening wolves which will wreck destruction among the flock.

The Apostle Paul, speaking for the Lord, also warned of wolves: "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:29). The context of Paul's warning to the Ephesian elders—and to all elders since—is false teachers within and among Christ's church. The danger then is false teachers and preachers who convincingly appear to be followers of Christ, sheep of His flock, but who are not.

Clearly, the only way to know if a wolf is under the sheep's clothing is to "judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24). Jesus said this regarding wolves in sheep's clothing: "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16). Christians have a responsibility to prove all things by the Word of God. If a teacher, preacher, or for that matter, leader of any kind disciples the Lord's flock in grievous error even after being repeatedly confronted with the Word of God, we certainly ought to draw the conclusion that a wolf is lurking under all that wool, no matter how attractive or of what value the wool may be. And the Scriptures give clear instruction when it comes to dealing with wolves.

Now these days, there is almost unanimity among conservative evangelicals, and certainly among fundamentalists, that if a Protestant pastor, regardless of how orthodox his other doctrine is, endorses abortion, he is a wolflikewise, if he is pro-sodomite or endorses other moral evils so popular among the heathen. In such cases, charitable deeds or a sound biblical stand in other matters is said to be the wool covering the wolf. This discernment would be very encouraging if not for a companion blindness and grievous double standard which exist at the same time.

It seems very few evangelicals today consider promoting and even partnering with popery as a qualification for the status of a wolf in sheep's clothing! This is especially true if the preacher or leader in question is very strong against such evils as abortion, homosexuality, and pornography while also being strong for religious liberty. So long as he wears that sort of a sheep's skin, an evangelical pastor or pro-family leader can openly, joyfully, and enthusiastically commit spiritual fornication with the Mother of Harlots and seduce the Lord's people to do likewise. Yet at the same time, he is lauded as a champion of the faith.

Consider as an example the just departed Dr. D. James Kennedy who was unapologetically open in accepting Roman Catholics as Christians and desensitizing Christians to the religion of Antichrist. Dr. Kennedy was known as a champion of the essential doctrine of justification and was modeled as a descendent of the Reformers, yet he gladly consorted with that church which burned the Reformers! For instance, Roman Catholics, including priests, regularly appeared as Christians on Kennedy's television program and as speakers at his Reclaiming America for Christ conference. At the March 2-3, 2007 Reclaiming America for Christ conference, held in Kennedy's Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, three Roman Catholics preached to the large, mostly Protestant congregation. Priest Frank Pavone began his sermon with this statement: "It is a joy to be with you, brothers and sisters. The Lord has brought us together today, not only from many diverse parts of the nation but from many diverse parts of the body of Christ. And we're together to proclaim there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. We are together to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord" (http://priestsforlife.org/audioss/07-03-02reclaimingamerica.m3u). This was just one of many such statements by Priest Pavone which elicited an enthusiastic applause from an audience overwhelmingly Protestant, including a good number of pastors!

Since his death on September 5, high-profile evangelical ministers and pro-family leaders have searched for superlatives with which to adorn Kennedy's memory and honor his work. Many have lauded him as a great gospel preacher and a staunch defender of biblical truth. And who can deny that D. James Kennedy was a gifted, gracious, and great man in many ways? But there is that matter of his long and stubborn promotion of the pope's religion which in turn is the greatest danger and enemy of the true faith which has ever existed or will ever exist. Is this to be considered of no consequence or, at most, a trifling matter? We may rest assured that even if that is the case with men, it is not so with God. For this reason, I would urge my fellow Christians to consider that, notwithstanding any short-term victories due to God's grace, some of the very men and strategies they are resorting to in hopes of victory over the church's enemies will be the reason the Lord will chasten the church with those same enemies.

Of course, there are many other evangelical ministers and leaders who are taking a courageous stand against various evils yet at the same time are teaching the Lord's flock by their actions and often by their words that the Roman Catholic Church is a Christian church. Evangelical Rev. Flip Benham is one such individual. This past July, Benham's ministry Operation Save America staged another large, national pro-life event. The motto of OSA, which appears on their web site and t-shirts, is "Jesus is the Standard." Yet, consistent with its past, this OSA event featured evangelicals protesting, praying, and worshiping with Roman Catholics, some toting huge crucifixes. And once again, charismatic Roman Catholic priest Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life, preached at the event and joined Reverend Benham in the ministry effort.

I know for a fact Benham has been confronted for his grossly ecumenical ways and has even been given a copy of my book More Than These. But again, Reverend Benham is just one of scores of pro-life/pro-family evangelical pastors, leaders, and Christian radio personalities at various levels who stubbornly persist in mocking the Word of God by yoking with unbelievers and having fellowship with unrighteousness, all in the name of Jesus. Certainly, some follow a more subtle strategy for cashing in on Romish manpower and money. But spiritual fornication is spiritual fornication whether committed openly or more surreptitiously.

We could go on almost ad infinitum, not to mention ad nauseam, giving examples of well-known, respected evangelical ministers who have repeatedly refused to quit their corruption of the body of Christ and their assault on the Word of God through their yoking with Roman Catholics in Christian ministry. I suppose Exhibit A would be Rev. Billy Graham, a man who arguably has done more to rehabilitate the pope's reputation and mainstream evangelical ecumenism in America than any other man now living. It is perhaps more worthwhile to simply get back to the fundamental question. Our Lord has warned us, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Doesn't Christ mean that we are to beware of all false prophets who disciple His people in any grievous error and corrupt the purity of His Bride? Surely, the Lord warns against all wolves in sheep's clothing, not just some wolves or certain kinds of wolves. Or is this a matter of the kind of wool and the breed of wolf?

The Scriptures are clear both concerning the pope's religion and yoking with it. We cannot simply wink at those evangelical ministers and personalities who willingly, knowingly, and stubbornly promote Romanism as Christianity. We cannot simply give a free pass to such men, no matter how respected or even venerable they may be. But my question is, When do we call them wolves? How long and how horribly must a Christian pastor or leader corrupt the blood-bought Bride of Christ and strengthen the hand of the devil before he is said to be a wolf in sheep's clothing? How much spiritual fornication is too much? Perhaps the better question is, Who is willing to mark and separate from all wolves and then contend with them for the faith once delivered unto the saints?

 

This web site contains references to Wisconsin Christians United (WCU). That ministry, which was founded by Ralph Ovadal in 1993, has been included as a ministry of Pilgrims Covenant Church since April 1, 2005. 

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