Storms Within the Church

MEMORY SELECTION: “Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you.” —Mark 13:5


THE circumstances surrounding our memory selection are recorded in the Gospels of Matthew (24th chapter), Mark (13th chapter), and Luke (21st chapter). These teachings, which represent the closing ministry of our Lord Jesus while he was on earth, were his endeavor to prepare the hearts and minds of his disciples for the great change of dispensation that was before them. These teachings are among the most important records that we have concerning the events which were to take place during the Gospel Age. Thus it is that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”—II Cor. 13:1

Our Lord’s statement to “take heed lest any man deceive you” was in answer to a very important question which was put to him by some of his disciples. From the context of our lesson we learn that Jesus and some of the disciples had just gone out of the temple and one of them had remarked concerning the fine stones with which the building had been constructed. Jesus promptly explained that the temple would be destroyed and that not one stone would be left upon another. Then it was, as he rested near the temple on the Mount of Olives, that Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him when they might expect the fulfillment of this great prophecy.

It will be noted that the disciples asked three questions: (1) When shall these things be? (2) What shall be the sign of thy presence? and (3) When will the end of the Gospel Age occur? It was within this context that Jesus uttered his admonition that they be deceived of no man. And it was here that he gave a brief account of the history of the Gospel-Age church, in advance.

Yes, there would be storms within the church and in the world at large, and Jesus taught his disciples that they should not expect his second advent or his glorious kingdom too soon. It would require many long years to accomplish the necessary events; and much suffering, persecution, and deception must be encountered first. Indeed, the history of the entire Gospel Age has been one of storms within and storms without the church. This was, of course, necessary for the development of those who responded to the call to follow him unto death.

Jesus taught on another occasion that we should “beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.” (Matt. 7:15) This warning seems to emphasize the fact that there would be trouble within the church and among those who sought to do the Master’s service. God has selected his own prophets, apostles, and others who have been especially prepared for the service to which they were called. When Jesus warns the church, his footstep followers, to beware of “false prophets,” then we should be particularly alert concerning those whom we choose as teachers and servants. We should know well those that are chosen for any duty in connection with the service of the truth.

Our selected scripture reading also points us to John’s first epistle in which we are told, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1) Here again we see we must be careful not to accept as teachers any whose words and actions are not in harmony with the Word of God.

Let us consider the admonitions of the Apostle Paul as they are recorded for us in the Acts of the Apostles. He told the elders of the church at Ephesus to “take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit [mistranslated ‘ghost’] hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which [Christ] bath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”—Acts 20:28-30

Paul realized the storms that were to come upon the church, and he warned those who had responsibility among the brethren to beware of false teachings and false brethren who would do injury and violence to the truth and to the Lord’s people.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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