Behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.  Luke 10:3

“He does not keep back from them the dangers and trials which are before them.  He does not enlist them under false pretenses, or prophesy smooth things, or promise them unvarying success.  He tells them plainly what they must expect.”  J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke (Grand Rapids, n.d.), page 346.

There is a reason why the Lord said what he said in Luke 10:3.  Some people are wolf-ish.  They will never accept a minister of the gospel, because they do not love the Lord of the gospel.  They join our churches.  They even become leaders.  But their nature within is wolf-ish – hungry, cunning, attacking.

Some pastors reading this post are encircled by wolves.  My brother, here are three things to remember right now.

One, if the prospect of encountering a harmful person deters us from following the call of Christ, then we are not true pastors: “He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd . . . sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees” (John 10:12).  A true pastor accepts what the Lord said in Luke 10:3 and stays true to the call.

Two, some people are unsatisfied, because they are unsatisfiable.  Their heartburn about you isn’t about you.  The problem is this.  As you preach the glory of Christ, they sense his claims encroaching on their claims in “their church.”  They criticize you for this and for that.  And maybe they have a point.  But your real crime is that Christ is at work through your ministry: “We are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.  Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).

Three, the Lord is with you.  He who warned you is also committed to you: “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.  So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.  The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.  To him be the glory forever and ever.  Amen” (2 Timothy 4:17-18).

View Comments


Search this blog


Ray Ortlund photo

Ray Ortlund

Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

Ray Ortlund's Books