Skip to comments.The Rev. Johann Vanderbijl: "Figs and Thistles"
Posted on 07/20/2005 3:04:14 PM PDT by sionnsar
In the sermon Figs and Thistles, the Rev. Vanderbijl uses the readings for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity, Romans 8:12-17 and St. Matthew 7:15-21, to speak about, among other things, ecclesiastical events in Connecticut. He writes about movements in the world and the Church:
But there is a movement in the Church right now that is an even greater thorny issue, even though some of it is on a more subtle level. Ecclesiastical officials are making statements and decisions that fly in the face of biblical orthodoxy. Priests are physically persecuted, their offices and personal files broken into all because of their stand on biblical authority. Prominent orthodox laymen are being excommunicated. We are no longer talking about paranoid political insurrectionists here we are talking about men who took vows to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to Gods Word. How do we deal with this Exodus from all the Church has stood for and believed since the beginning?Indeed, this sermon is a timely warning and should be read in its entirety, for we indeed have ravenous wolves in our churches and our society; it is part of Christian discernment that we must
Jesus addressed this in our Gospel passage for this morning. Beware of false prophets, He said, who come in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. Notice that the terms our Lord used here all point to someone within the confines of the sheepfold, not someone outside. Firstly, He described the person as a prophet. Now, a prophet is someone who speaks for God who represents God to men who prefaces his pronouncements with thus says the Lord and proceeds to speak the word of God. False prophets on the other hand misrepresent God by proclaiming the word of man. There are numerous examples of false prophets in both Old and New Testaments and, indeed, throughout the history of the Church up to our present day so, we should not be surprised to hear of men or women claiming to speak for God and yet proclaiming a way foreign to Holy Scripture.
Secondly, our Lord said that this person wore sheeps clothing. In other words, for all we know, this person is one of the flock. They purposefully disguise themselves to blend in with the Body and they are usually very difficult to distinguish from the true. They may say all the right things they may be people whom you admire or whose company you enjoy. Of course, the more obvious their error the more likely they are to be corrected or exposed, but in this passage Jesus is speaking about those who are squeaky-clean on the surface, but whose agenda is to break down and dismantle the Church from within. They are ravenous wolves that seek to kill and destroy and they do.
Unfortunately, Christians all too often go after those who are obviously on the wrong path while ignoring a far greater peril from the serpent they quite happily nurse in their own bosom. Appearances are deceptive and we need to be on our guard, especially in this day and age when innocent faces carry deadly explosives in their backpacks. Lethal spiritual bombs may just as well be carried in the folds of copes and mitres or between the pages of Bibles and hymnals.
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