How can you become an effective Christian watchman?
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).
1) Whom Should You Watch?
Paul concludes his remarks in Acts 20 with principles on how to become an effective watchman.
He addresses first of all this question, "Whom should you watch?" If you're going to be a watchman then you've got to know who you are supposed to be watching. Paul addresses that in verse 28 where he says, "Take heed." "Take heed" means what? It means to watch. You've got to watch if you're going to be a watchman.
Paul continues, "Take heed, therefore, unto yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers. To feed the church of God which He has purchased with His own blood." So, we see in the Scriptures that to be effective and good watchmen we've got to really be watching two things.
First to watch, you've got to watch yourself. How do we do that? You know you can't save somebody who is drowning if you don't know how to swim yourself. That's not recommended. If somebody is drowning in ten feet of water and you don't know how to swim, how are you going to save them? You'll end up with two people drowned.
You've got to first of all guard yourself from the culture we are living in. It was rough in Paul's day, but it's also rough in our day as well. We are living in a culture where there are all kinds of doctrinal errors, even doctrinal error in the Church. We've got to make a covenant which is a commitment that we are going to first of all guard our own hearts doctrinally, spiritually and morally. Don't you know that Satan wants you to be disqualified as an opportunity to be a watchman? In all these areas you've got to first of all guard yourself.
But, notice this, secondly Paul says to guard your flock. God has given each watchman a flock which you have to be shepherd over.
Who is your flock? Write some names down. If you are a pastor, God has given you a flock, and that's pretty obvious. But, what about the rest of us? I still believe we all have a flock.
Students sometimes have friends at school whom they have some kind of relationship with. They show Christian friendship when no other Christian could become friends with that person, not their parents and not even their pastor. Maybe that student is to be a watchman and that's their flock.
Parents, do we have a flock? Obviously, our children and our grandchildren are our flock. Many of you who read this have made a commitment to take this information that you are learning here and you are already strategizing on how you are going to get this information into the hands of your children and your grandchildren.
So, you have to guard yourself and also your flock. That's part of being a watchman. That's what it's all about.
2) What Should You Watch?
Paul addresses the question, "What should you watch?" Concerning whom, we should watch ourself and we should watch our flock, but what should you be watching for? Acts 20:29 answers that question. Paul says, "For I know this, that after my departing." In other words, Paul knows that before he gets out the door and is on his way to Jerusalem, he already knows what's going to happen. He says after his departing, "grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing..." What? The flock. Your flock is in danger. There are going to be some hungry wolves coming. If you're going to be a watchman then you've got to be watching for these hungry wolves coming in, these dangers from without.
Wolves are not part of your flock. These are wolves that are going to come in from outside of the flock. The term "wolves" is reminiscent of Christ's own words when He said, "Watch out for false prophets which come to you..." How? They come, "in sheep's clothing, but they're actually hungry wolves." Watch out for these false teachers. They are wolves, but they are going to look like what? Sheep.
One of the principle characteristics of false teachers is that none are ever going to come up to you and say, "I'm a false prophet. Do you want to join my group?" No, it doesn't work that way. No one is going to say, "Excuse me, I'm demon possessed. Can I teach you something?" False teachers are going to look Christian, and these are very real dangers from without that we have to be watching out for.
My ministry, Watchman Fellowship, exists to help people discern false teachers and teachings, giving people resources to do just that. We provide information and all kinds of different resources on what we need to be watching out for so that you can identify the external dangers, these dangers from without.
Example of Mormon Wolves
Mormonism started with just six charter members back in the year 1830. They now claim over 13 million members worldwide, making Mormonism one of the fastest growing religions in the history of the world.
Mormons come across as being Christian and all wholesome. There are actually some great people in Mormonism. Let me say that many of my family are still Mormons and they are good people. I love the Mormon people, but they are not Christian.
Who would have ever thought we would have two Mormon presidential candidates for the upcoming election? Mormonism has become very powerful in the United States and around the world.
The doctrines of Mormonism are completely non-Christian in nature. When I was a Mormon I was taught that God before he was God was once a man on another planet. I was taught that God is married. In Mormonism you have a heavenly father and his wife the heavenly mother. As a Mormon I was taught that I could become a god myself one day if I went through the secret temple ceremonies and was obedient to laws and ordinances of the gospel. That's certainly not compatible with Christianity.
Mormons have claimed that they are baptizing into the Mormon Church 282 Southern Baptist every seven days. That's just the Southern Baptists and doesn't count other denominational groups as well.
There are many other modern day apostasies that have infiltrated the Church. I must admit that I've been shocked and appalled by both the degree of apostasy and the speed at which it has been accelerating. For example, who would have believed 20 years ago that today churches would be ordaining homosexuals and performing same-sex marriages? Or, that major Christian leaders, even so-called Evangelicals, would be denying the reality of Hell and arguing that Christianity is just one of many roads to Heaven?
The brutal fact is that we have Christian leaders today who are denying all the fundamentals of the faith, including the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection and the Second Coming. The only positive thing we can derive from this gross apostasy is the fact that it is a fulfillment of end time Bible prophecy, for the Bible specifically prophesies that the end times will be characterized by a great falling away from the faith due to "doctrines of demons," and due to people desiring to hear messages that tickle their ears rather than challenge their souls.
3) How Should You Watch?
In Acts 20:31, Paul says, "Therefore, watch and remember that by the space of three years I cease not to warn everyone night and day with tears." There are two principles that we can see from verse 31 concerning how you should watch.
The first principle is that we should watch continuously. Paul said, "I remember that I warned you night and day." That would be A.M. and P.M. for the entire three years both night and day. That's 365 days a year which is over 1,000 days! He's warning in the morning and in the evening.
Such diligence has got to be continuous. We can't be watchmen by coming to church and then be done with it until next week. This has to be a commitment that in the A.M. and the P.M. morning and evening we are going to be guarding our flock. We are going to be watching ourselves and then the flock that God has given us continuously but also compassionately.
Paul says he did this night and day. But, how? Paul watched with tears flowing down his cheeks. This was not a bash or a rant or an attack. This broke Paul's heart. When he talked about Hymenaeus and Alexander it was more "Hyme" and "Alex." These are his friends. These are people he has dealt with. This broke his heart. This is the same Paul who once said if he himself could eliminate his salvation and be accursed for the Jews so that the Jewish people who were his family and his heritage could be saved, then he would gladly do so. That's the kind of compassion needed to make the kind of watchman that Paul was.
In summary, Paul could say his famous last words were, "Look at this and see my hands, I'm pure of the blood of all men."
If I could speak to you in a year from now it'd be great if you could say to me, "As best as I could tell, when the Lord gave me an opportunity, whether it was at the Starbucks or at the workplace or with a family member or with somebody, when God opened the door I took the opportunity and shared that Gospel of grace. I was able to be that watchman and watch over my flock the best I could when God gave me the opportunity." I want both you and me to be able to say along with Paul that we are pure of the blood of all men.