May 26, 2008
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:15
Like many people, Sam White liked the Civil War. Sam White also liked relics from that time of terrible conflict.
For Sam, a childhood fascination blossomed into love as he traveled all over the South looking for weapons, flags, or buried artillery shells. So powerful was Sam's penchant for things military, Sam sometimes slipped into a diving suit to search in the black silt of rivers and ponds.
Sam loved relics from the Civil War. Daily Devotion readers will note the past tense use of the verb. He loved these things.
In February, Sam White became the last fatality of the Civil War. Sam died when a cannonball he was restoring exploded in his driveway. So strong was the blast, a piece of shrapnel was sent through the front porch of a house a quarter-mile away.
Explosives experts said a 140-year-old cannonball shouldn't go off. John Biemeck, retired colonel from the Army Ordinance Corps said, "You can't drop these things on the ground and make them go off."
Something that ought to have been innocent turned deadly indeed.
That is true for more things than old Civil War cannonballs. Jesus long ago warned His people about wolves who come to them in sheep's skins. These individuals look innocent and harmless, but in truth they are snapping, snarling wolves.
With Jesus' warning ringing in their ears, God's elect know they should be careful.
There are far too many men and women on TV, on the radio, and in our nation's pulpits who are identical to the wolves the Savior warned us about. These pretend preachers look real religious, they sound real religious, but what is the basis of their religion?
They use religious sounding words, but they don't talk much about the Redeemer.
They take up offerings, but the gifts given up by the faithful often fill private coffers, instead of increasing the Kingdom. These folks talk about faith, but not much about the forgiveness available through the Savior's blood shed upon the cross.
The Savior's warning remains valid. We need to watch out for the wolves; we need to judge their words and actions by the truth of Holy Scripture. And, if we do find a leader who shares Law and Gospel properly, we should give thanks. God has given us a good undershepherd, not a ravenous wolf.
THE PRAYER: Dear Savior, send Your Holy Spirit and grant Your people discernment. Help us distinguish between the wolves and the witnesses. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries