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(II Tim. 4:5)

        In this text, the apostle Paul exhorts genuine believers to be constant watchmen of every part of their being, with no exceptions. Paul did not urge saints to watch in some things, or in many things or even in most things, but in all things. Genuine saints are earnestly entreated here to guard against every undesirable intrusion upon their spiritual lives. For true believers, this admonition is not an option to be considered but an obligation to be obeyed.
          1. WATCH YOUR DOCTRINE-II Tim. 3:10, 4:3
          The word doctrine is found over 30 times in the N. T. and simply refers to divinely inspired instruction or teaching. The apostle Paul made several references to doctrine in I & II Timothy. In II Tim. 1:13, doctrine is described as "the form of sound words." Paul also used the word directly in II Tim. 3:10 when he wrote about "my doctrine," and in II Tim. 4:3 where he referred to "sound doctrine."
          Paul warned about a shift away from sound doctrine in the last days. There is a definite shift today away from sound dispensational doctrinal preaching as proclaimed by the great Bible expositors of past generations. In many professing evangelical churches, a frivolous, soft, surface "feel good" experiential subjective preaching has replaced strong doctrinal content.
          Stephen Board, editor of the now-defunct Eternity magazine expressed it aptly when he declared "the modern Charismatic movement, whether Catholic or Protestant, has been able to suspend doctrinal questions and unite around a set of experiences. Doctrine divides, experience unites." Jamie Buckingham - now deceased writer for the leading Charismatic magazine Charisma stated: "We cannot have unity based on doctrine. Doctrine will always divide the body of Christ."
          In this appalling trend, Charismatic "please everybody" figures like Joel Osteen and T. J. Jakes, along with "purpose driven" pastors like Rick Warren, have replaced sound Bible expositors as America's leading sources of religious instruction. Even some professing Fundamental preachers have been affected by this dilution and negation of Biblical truth.
          There has never been a time in America's religious history when an emphasis on sound doctrine was more needed than today. A gradual slippage in doctrinal preaching has been occurring for several generations in Fundamental circles, and that harmful trend needs to be immediately curbed. Solid doctrinal exposition with relevant application to current societal trends is a major essential if Biblical Fundamentalism is to remain a vital force in religious circles today.
          In II Tim. 3:16-17, Paul reiterated the truth that spiritual maturation cannot take place in saints' lives apart from the exposition of sound doctrine. In those verses, Paul inextricably linked profitable doctrine to a perfecting demeanor in the believer's life. A fact that cannot be overemphasized is that Bible doctrines never go out of date!
          2. WATCH YOUR DEVOTIONS-II Tim. 2:15
          Saints who grow and mature in the Lord are believers who invest daily time in the reading, meditating and study of God's Word. The God blessed Christian-Ps. 1:1-3, the joyful believer-I John 1:4, and the fruitful saint is one who abides in the Word-John 15:1-16 and communes daily with the Lord in prayer-Rev. 3:20. Conversely, worldly backslidden Christians are those who take little or no time daily or weekly for personal communion with the Lord in His Word and in prayer.
          Robert Murray M'Cheyne was a noted Scottish Preacher of the 19th century whose ministry spanned less than a decade in time, dying at the early age of 29 in 1842. His life story, The Biography of Robert Murray M'Cheyne was penned by his close friend, A.A. Bonar. On p. 45 Bonar states, "From the first he fed others by what he himself was feeding upon…He loved to come up from the pasture wherein the Chief Shepherd had met him-to lead the flock entrusted to his care to the spots where he found nourishment."
          On p. 75, Bonar says, "his daily study of the Scriptures stored his mind and formed a continual preparation. Much of his Sabbath services was a drawing out of what he had carried in during busy days of the week." Corresponding with a theological student in 1840, M'Cheyne penned this wise counsel: "Keep much in the presence of God. Never see the face of man till you have seen His face who is our life"(p. 37).
          M'Cheyne's advice coincides with the example of Christ in Mark 1:35, "And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." The Psalmist declared in Ps. 5:3: "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee and will look up."
          With regard to Bible reading, the F. D. editor suggests the following pattern: (1) Read the Bible DAILY-Joshua 1:8, Acts 17:1; (2) Read the Bible DOCTRINALLY-I Tim. 4:16; (3) Read the Bible DISPENSATIONALLY-Eph. 3:1-10, Col. 1:25-26; (4) Read the Bible DEVOTIONALLY-Ps. 119:47 & 97:1.
          Concerning prayer there is (1) CONCERT praying, praying with other believers in concert congregational prayer-Acts 1:14; there is also what might be termed (2) COURTROOM praying, when like an attorney believers plead their case with God-Luke 18:1-8. The Scripture also teaches (3) CLOSET praying, when believers enter into God's presence in solitary alone, apart from the presence of all other human beings-Matt. 6:6.
          To put it frankly, any believer who is too busy to read the Bible and spend time in prayer is simply too busy. That believer has incorrect daily priorities and needs to re-arrange his/her schedule to invest time with Christ in His word and in prayer.
          While statistics are not always reliable and may be used for whatever purpose desired, America's sad spiritual decline can be traced to the following purported facts: In 1900, family altars were conducted in 50% of America's homes. By 1975, this figure had declined to 5%. One can only conjecture what the slim percentages are in 2005.
          3. WATCH YOUR DIRECTION-II Tim. 4:10.
          In II Tim. 4:10, the Apostle Paul brokenheartedly penned the tragic news that Demas had turned in a different direction from the one he traveled just a few years earlier in Col. 4:10, and that he had forsaken the historic Biblicist position for the favor and love of the ungodly world of his day. Unfortunately today, multitudes of professing Christians are following that same unwholesome direction in several areas.
          a. Watch the Direction of Your Scriptures: In the last 50 years, approximately 150 new defective English Bible translations have been placed on the commercial religious market for naïve believers to consume. All these versions, *with one exception, are based on the apostate critical text of Westcott and Hort that flows out of the unreliable Alexandrian stream of manuscripts.
          These modern Bible versions are untrustworthy, making spiritual mincemeat out of what was once a great Scriptural pie. Important doctrinal portions of the Biblical pie have been cut out and deleted small slices at a time, reducing the inerrant contents, while failing to inform gullible purchasers about the erasures and removals.
          In the English speaking world, amidst these deplorable changes and cuts, only the time-tested KJV retains its pristine trustworthy value, without content change; a translation that is not only authentic in its text, but also authoritative with its truth. *The NKJV is based on the TR, but makes so many concessions to the critical text via small word changes and the explanatory notes that the F.D. editor places it within the same defective stream.
          b. Watch the Direction of Your Services: Biblical Fundamentalists and babbling Charismatics are two movements in striking contrast with each other. Fundamentalists believe the inerrant Scriptures are the sole basis of divine revelation-II Tim. 3:16-17, while Charismatics include extra-Scriptural revelations in their authority structure. For Fundamentalists, objective N. T. doctrine is the source of divine authority, while Charismatics accept subjective religious experience[s] as their authoritative foundation.
          The Scripturally based distinctiveness between these two movements, however, is gradually disappearing as professing Fundamentalist services imitate and take on charismatic worship service practices. Worship "teams," generally composed of male-female combinations, that "direct" the corporate "worship," are gradually finding their way into Fundamentalist services.
          Huge screens that flash praise choruses that have little musical variation and use phrases repeated over and over again to a heavy bass rhythm, are replacing reliable hymnbooks in some professing Fundamentalist churches. Children's services now feature frivolous "Veggie Tales" that poke fun at sacred Bible stories such as Jonah and the whale. C.S. Lewis fictional "Lion King" stories and videos are replacing sound Bible instruction for children in some formerly Biblically strong congregations.
          Some Fundamentalist churches are deleting their Sunday night services under the pretense of giving Christian homes more "family" time on the Lord's Day. One Fundamentalist church with which the writer is acquainted, recently shut-down its mid-week prayer meeting, and is supposedly combining this former vital ministry into a Sunday evening side room format.
          c. Watch the Direction of Your Standards: The F.D. editor's heart burns with spiritual anguish as he watches the gradual steady erosion of dress and appearance standards within Fundamentalist ranks. The world, not the Word, dictates the appearance standards as many believers come dressed to church services like they are attending a ball game rather than a church service. They dress down rather than dress up! Attendees at church services sometimes look more like spectators at a sports arena than they do like saints at a spiritual activity.
          Modest women's dresses are a rarity, as females come to church by the multitudes, sometimes in tight pants that belong on the opposite sex and with their hair cut like a man or that resembles a female prostitute. Men are no exceptions. Dress shirts, ties and jackets are out, while Hawaiian casuals, shirttails, and tennis shoes are in, with earrings becoming standard ornaments on some males.
          Unconverted godless Hollywood stars are replacing godly heavenly oriented saints as role models. The world, not the Word, is dictating the appearance standards of many believers today.
          Conclusion: The F. D. editor has mentioned only a few of the key areas that believers need to carefully guard. There are obviously many more! There never has been a greater need for genuine saints to "WATCH… IN ALL THINGS," than the present hour. The peril of believers becoming entrapped by the world is a real problem-Rom. 12:2, I John 2:15-17 and must be averted, regardless of the spiritual cost involved.               D.J.
          PS: The above article was designed to help, not hurt Fundamentalist churches and families. He trusts that readers will not be offended by his forthright observations, but sincerely ask the Lord to help them make necessary change where such changes are necessary for spiritual maturation.

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Editorial - October-November 2005 The Fundamentalist Digest; Permission granted for reprint, so long as proper credit is given.
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