SUNDAY’S DIVINE SERVICE—BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS
Prophets are those who "speak forth the Word of God." Therefore, a false prophet is one who claims to be speaking God's Word but is actually speaking false doctrine. Jesus says that we will recognize false prophets by their fruits. What are the fruits of false prophets? False doctrine is the chief fruit of false prophets. False doctrine leads people away from sole reliance upon Christ to reliance upon themselves. Learning the truths of the Small Catechism is one of the chief ways by which the sheep learn to recognize a false prophet. Hearing and learning the basic truths of the Catechism guards us against the seductive lies of those who would divert our faith from the only Savior from sin, our Lord Jesus Christ.
PAUL’S FAREWELL TO THE EPHESIAN CHURCH In today’s second reading from the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul meets with the pastors of the congregations of Ephesus for what he believes might be the last time he sees them upon this earth. He had been the missionary and evangelist who had brought the Gospel to them. He had been their chief teacher of the faith and had sent others to them to help in the training of pastors so that their congregations would be well cared for. Now Paul bids them farewell. He speaks to them about the nature of the Church in this world. It will always be the church militant, struggling with sin, misbelief, and false doctrine from within and without. Enemies of the faith will attack them. In Paul's final word to the Ephesian pastors, he directs them to the only thing that will give them safety: "The Word of God's grace." What is the "Word of Grace"? It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul is encouraging them, never to grow tired of preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins is that which occurs again and again and again. Everyone needs this preaching of the "Word of grace" because it turns us away from self-reliance to reliance upon Christ Jesus and His death for our sins. The only safety for the church in the midst of attacks upon her faith is in this Gospel.