How can a new Christian discern truth from all the false teachings?
James Walker, the president of Watchman Fellowship, leads a ministry that is devoted to identifying and monitoring cultic and occultic groups and also false religions. He made a presentation at our conference based upon the last sermon that Paul delivered to the leaders of the church at Ephesus in Acts 20. Mr. Walker's topic at our conference was "The Challenge of Apostasy" (watch).
I've discovered from traveling all over the country and some international travel in the English-speaking world that when people hear "Watchman Fellowship" they can get confused. Sometimes they hear "watchman" and they think "Watchtower." People think, "Watchtower?" and then ask, "Why do we have the Jehovah's Witnesses at our gathering, at our conference, at our church?" Well, I want you to rest assured that we are not the Watchtower. We are Watchman Fellowship and we take our name from Ezekiel 33 where it tells us that God places a watchman on the wall. We are the good guys. What we teach at Watchman Fellowship is in the area of apologetics and warning them in the areas of cults, the occult, and new religious movements.
Though I'm the President of Watchman Fellowship, I'm actually not the founder of the organization. I originally was a fourth generation Mormon who practiced baptism for the dead in the Salt Lake City Mormon Temple. And, I could tell you that whole story sometime. Even as I was leaving Mormonism and coming to Christ, as I was making that transition from Mormonism to Christianity by receiving Christ, I was still confused about many things concerning the Bible. My whole life up until then had been based on Mormonism and the prophet Joseph Smith. For example, I remember as a new Christian thinking about a particular verse that was deeply troubling me. I thought, "Now wait a minute, was that verse in the Bible or the Book of Mormon where I heard that verse?" It was just so confusing.
When I was first saved I went to a Christian bookstore in Columbus, Georgia, where my wife and I were living at the time. I probably bought every book they had on the subject of Mormonism. Once I took my books to check out at the register and the woman there asked me, "Sir, why are you getting all these books on Mormonism?" I was embarrassed by the question, but I answered, "Well, actually, I used to be a Mormon and I am still struggling with some of their teachings." She replied, "Sir, you'd be so happy to know there is a brand new ministry that just started here in Columbus, Georgia and it's called Watchman Fellowship. It's for people just like you." I said, "That's okay, I just want my books." But, she said, "No." I said, "What?" She said, "No." She then stopped and got a business card out from the President and Founder of Watchman Fellowship, David Henke. She then dialed the phone number and got the founder on the phone and actually handed me the phone and said, "He needs to talk to you." David told me, "We have a support group. We have a Bible Study. Why don't you come and check it out?" Let me tell you, I did and I'm so thankful the Lord opened that door for me.
What would have taken maybe years for me to work through, Watchman Fellowship taught me in days. They understood the terminology and the language of the cults. They had the resources, the evidence, and the things that I needed to answer my questions. They were so helpful.
Of course, I never had any idea that one day I would be called into ministry and that one day I would go to work for Watchman Fellowship and even later on that I'd become the President of Watchman Fellowship. That kind of reminds me of that old TV commercial you may remember about the Hair Club for Men. Remember when the guy says, "I'm not only the President, I'm also a client." So, I'm the President of Watchman, but I'm also a client. I remember what it was like when I needed help and Watchman Fellowship was there for me.
Famous Last Words
The title of this message is "Famous Last Words of the Watchmen." I'm not talking about my last words. It's the last words of the Apostle Paul, though not actually his last words.
Let me tell you why I'm interested in this topic. I've a fascination, or maybe it's a morbid curiosity, about people's last words. It's always interested me. Have you ever thought about that? If you knew you only had a few minutes to share some last words, what would you want to say as your last words? I've always been interested in that.
Come to find out there are whole books on the subject of last words. A couple of years ago I got such a book as a Christmas present. It's a book compiled by Ray Robinson on people's deathbed last words. The book's called Famous Last Words, Fond Farewells, Death Bed Diatribes, and Exclamations Upon Expiration. It's a fascinating book. I'm going to share a couple of famous last words from the book. One of them really stuck in my mind. Some of them are very tragic. Some of the last words are insightful. And, some of them are downright humorous.
The one last words that stuck in my mind was from Karl Marx. Karl Marx of course was the founder of Marxism and the father of Communism. How many millions of people have been under bondage and persecution and even killed because of the doctrines of Karl Marx? A famous Atheist, Marx died in 1883. On his deathbed his housekeeper who knew he was in poor health tried to elicit some kind of statement for all of posterity; something that would go down in history. So, she asked him, "Mr. Marx, can you give me your last words?" He angrily said this, "Go on. Get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough." And, ironically, he immediately died. "Last words are for fools." Ironically, Marx gave us his last words which he said were for fools. It reminds me of what the Bible says, "The fool says in his heart, 'there is no God.'"
Another famous last words that sticks in my mind was from the Civil War. General John Sedgwick, who was called by his troops "Uncle John," was the commander of the Union forces in the famous battle of Spotsylvania. Right before the battle broke out in 1864 in the midst of the Civil War, he noticed his troops were lacking the courage they needed and were skittish because the Confederate Army was very close. So, he got up in front of his troops and he boldly said, "Be of good courage, be strong, be faithful." Then he said, "Don't worry, boys, they couldn't hit an elephant at this dis..." In the middle of his words a musket ball from a Confederate sharpshooter found its mark, and Sedgwick gave us his last words.
A more recent example of famous last words came from Spike Mulligan. Spike Mulligan was an Irish comedian, playwright, writer and musician. He died in 2002. His famous last words were, "I told you I was ill!" I guess he got the last words in.
In the second segment of this series on the challenge of apostasy, James Walker will give us Paul's famous last words. Do you know what they are?