December 11, 2017

Sheep in the Midst of Wolves

Dayton Hobbs

Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). Jesus gave this instruction and advice to His disciples as He sent them out to minister as “sheep in the midst of wolves” in their generation. He offers this same instruction for those of us who desire to be good disciples of Christ in the twentieth century as we attempt to minister to our own adversarial generation.

How do we best accomplish this when a rebellious and sinful spirit pervades our beloved United States of America? Let us be wise enough to go to the Word of God to answer three questions: (1) What is the responsibility of the Church? (2) What is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit? (3) What is the responsibility of the individual believer in the Dispensation of Grace?

Acts 15:14 spells out for us the responsibility of the Church: “Simon [Peter] bath declared how God at the first [for the first time] did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for [worthy of] His name.” This principle is in harmony with the Church epistle of Ephesians 4:11 and 12, where God gave men certain gifts to the Church “for the perfecting of the saints, for [unto] the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Evangelism and teaching— “calling out” and “perfecting” a people worthy of bearing His name— is the divine purpose of the Church in this age.

The work of the Holy Spirit seems to be primarily twofold: teaching and bringing unto our remembrance the things Christ has said (John 14:26), as well as testifying of Christ (John 15:26), and hindering or restraining lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:7, 8).

The work of the individual believer is tied to the calling of the Church and the work of the Holy Spirit, since the individual believer is a member of His body and is indwell by the Holy Spirit. We as individuals are to be involved in the work of evangelism, and we also have a responsibility to be “salt” and “light” (Eph. 5:1-13). We are to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11); however, the reproof, according to verse 13, is to be done by the light. The light is primarily the Word of God that is shed abroad in our hearts and our own personal testimony, which is to be above reproach.

By answering the three questions presented earlier, we can draw three conclusions. First, the work of the Church is evangelism and instruction in the Word, not protesting, demonstrating, marching or confronting immorality. If individuals choose to involve themselves in these things, that is their business. I don’t believe it is the proper course of action for individuals, but that is just my judgment in the matter. However, let’s not get the local church involved.

Second, the work of the Holy Spirit, Who obviously does His work through individual believers, testifies of Christ and restrains lawlessness. This restraint comes primarily by the faithful preaching of the Word of God by preachers. By their personal lives and testimonies—resulting from the faithful preaching of the Word of God—individual believers demonstrate this light and also restrain lawlessness. This lawlessness (iniquity) is not the breaking of man’s laws but is the total disregard for the laws of God.

Third, our way to minister to others in this evil generation is to act upon the words of Jeremiah 23:22, “But if they [the prophets] had stood in my counsel [not that of psychologists], and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way [singular form], and from the evil of their doings [plural form].”

Written by Dr. Dayton Hobbs. This article first appeared in the Fall 1993 issue ofThe Projector, edited by Dr. Hobbs.

(Originally published in FrontLine • January / February 1994. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

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