Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thinking Biblically

In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.

First Thessalonians 5:21-22 teaches that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning: “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” The apostle John issues a similar warning when he says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

According to the New Testament, discernment is not optional for the believer — it is required. The key to living an uncompromising life lies in one’s ability to exercise discernment in every area of his or her life. For example, failure to distinguish between truth and error leaves the Christian subject to all manner of false teaching. False teaching then leads to an unbiblical mindset, which results in unfruitful and disobedient living — a certain recipe for compromise.

Unfortunately, discernment is an area where most Christians stumble. They exhibit little ability to measure the things they are taught against the infallible standard of God’s Word, and they unwittingly engage in all kinds of unbiblical decision-making and behavior. In short, they are not armed to take a decidedly biblical stand against the onslaught of unbiblical thinking and attitudes that face them throughout their day.

Discernment intersects the Christian life at every point. And God’s Word provides us with the needed discernment about every issue of life. According to Peter, God “has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). You see, it is through the “true knowledge of Him,” that we have been given everything we need to live a Christian life in this fallen world. And how else do we have true knowledge of God but through the pages of His Word, the Bible? In fact, Peter goes on to say that such knowledge comes through God’s granting “to us His precious and magnificent promises” (2 Peter 1:4).

Discernment — the ability to think biblically about all areas of life — is indispensable to an uncompromising life. It is incumbent upon the Christian to seize upon the discernment that God has provided for in His precious truth! Without it, Christians are at risk of being “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).

-- John MacArthur, Pulpit Magazine Blog, June 18, 2008


Blogger Phil Perkins said...

Hank and Kenny,
Hope you are well. Both of these last two posts feature godly men who call us to judge teachers.

One thing I'd like to add is the idea that we need to search our minds and hearts for notions that fill us, but aren't biblical. By this I mean typical Evangelical bromides like "Don't judge", "You can't judge another's salvation", "God's nature is love" (and not much else), "Every opinion should be treated as worthy", "This passage means to me...", "God hasn't convicted me of that so it's okay", "Make the gospel relevant", "You have no right to judge my opinion", and such things as these.

This is part of bringing every thought captive. And it's essential to do this in order to live and think biblically. It will happen somewhat naturally as we soak our minds in Scripture. (Not Evangelical authorsQ!) Failing to do so will leave our minds conformed to this age--not a good thing.

Speaking of this, something just occured to me concerning our last interaction. Namely, if I understand your article on Ravi Z., he actually prayed with folks who deny Jesus, correct? Have I understood that or am I wrong? If so, he has had spiritual fellowship with idolaters in violation of I Cor. 5 and Deut 12 and 13. I may be wrong.

In any case, I wish you both well.

Pursue God always,
Phil Perkins. PS-- Have a good Sunday and pray for me as we are starting a house church.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Phil Perkins said...

Here's another quick thought that I have instituted in my life: If you can't support a position biblically, it's only an opinion and probably ought never be argued.

Phil Perkins.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Hank said...

I do enjoy your comments and interaction although confess, with frustration, that I do not believe you ever really answered the question of judging the heart. I do not question your salvation nor that believers are called to judge, only that it must be in the Spirit, and in agreement with you, through Scripture. If there were no judgment, there would be no correction or discipline within the Church and quite frankly no Church. The Father that loves His children disciplines them. Proverbs 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly. I am in agreement that Scripture is our finale authority because God has given it. I do however believe the words of Peter in II Peter 1:20 'knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,...' may also apply to the interpretation we individually have, and that interpretation must stand the test of analysis by all other Scripture and Godly men sharpened by their humble submission to each other within the body Christ has ordained as His own. What defines the Church and Body of Christ are those washed in His Blood. I fear dissenters of this Truth are those who would by their pride truly encourage the unbeliever in their journey to perdition. Your referral to I Corinthians 5 as a point with which to excoriate Ravi Zacharias, Verse 9-11 "I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone 'named a brother,' (emphasis mine) who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner-not even to eat with such a person.", is not applicable here. When I am in contention with my brothers over theological issues, I am convicted that my opinion can only be validated as correct with in the context of the Body of Christ and the Holy Spirit revealing the truth to us and through 'us'. I Corinthians 11:18-19 says, "For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you." I am convinced in my spirit you have a love of God in you but caution both you and me to examine I Corinthians 3. I hear people claiming Christian faith in all forms of context. Saul was orthodox to the nth but until Christ changed him he was lost. After Christ had done His work Paul was, in spite of his weaknesses, (Romans 7:14-8:1) a man of men for Christ. I believe God can and does use you, Ken, Ravi Zacharias and me, in spite of the carnal mind we all fight against. Perhaps we best fight our own carnal mind then we can rightly discern.

2:12 PM  

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