Applying Biblical discernment is a life or death matter.
James 5:19-20 , Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; (20) Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
We have applied our need for Biblical discernment to the area of preaching. We said the preaching that we ought to be seeking to subject ourselves to is expositional preaching. That is preaching which seeks to have God’s intended meaning in the passage as the agenda of the sermon.
1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel : not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
Last week we said that we need to read, and that we should read widely. In reading widely, we read the Bible and theology first and foremost so that the Bible can mould our behavior, our thoughts, and our interpretations. We then read literature and history and culture recognizing that the authors of these works may not be Christian, but that they can find and reveal truth to us. We need to read with Biblical discernment so that we can discern the truth from the error.
“ When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.”—II Timothy 4:13 “He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He has wider experience than most men, and yet He wants books! He had been caught up in the third heaven, and had heard things unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He has written a major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every Christian, ‘Give thyself to reading.’ The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves he has no brains of his own.”
“… know God and ourselves, gain vicarious experience, increase our perception and imagination, train our minds to think critically and logically, and teach us self-discipline.”
The Need for Biblical Discernment: In Regards to the Local Church (Part 3 of 3)
Joshua Harris writes, “A local church is a visible, tangible, real-world expression of the body of Christ.”
Charles Colson puts it this way, “Of course every believer is part of the universal church, but for any Christian who has choice in the matter, failure to cleave to a particular church is failure to obey Christ.”
“ Charles Spurgeon compared those disconnected Christians to “good-for-nothing” bricks:
I know there are some who say, “Well, I have given myself to the Lord, but I do not intend to give myself to the church.” Now why not? “Because I can be a Christian without it.” Are you quite clear about that? You can be as good a Christian by disobedience to your Lord’s commands as by being obedient? What is a brick made for? To help build a house. It is of no use for that brick to tell you that it is just as good a brick while it is kicking about on the ground as it would be in the house. It is a good-for-nothing brick. So you rolling-stone Christians, I do not believe that you are answering your purpose. You are living contrary to the life which Christ would have you live, and you are much to blame for the injury you do.
Authors Brian Habig and Les Newsom write, “All of us should concern ourselves with the challenges that face all people everywhere, but that concern cannot be expressed everywhere. We demonstrate our concern by acting and living where we are.”
Daniel Kirk puts it this way, “There is nothing outside the Trinity itself that God loves more than the church for which He died.”
Three Essentials: in choosing a church
The issues that should drive us in choosing a church are
matters of doctrine, of truth.
There is one living and true God, revealed in nature as the Creator, Preserver, and Righteous Governor of the universe; and in the Scriptures as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; yet as one God, infinitely wise and good, whom all intelligent creatures are supremely to love, adore, and obey.
We believe in the one living and true God, both holy and loving, eternal, unlimited in power, wisdom, and goodness, the Creator and Preserver of all things. Within this unity there are three persons of one essential nature, power, and eternity-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
(James 2:19) Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
(Jam 2:20) But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
(Psalms 111:10) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
(1John 5:3) For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and are our infallible rule of faith and practice.
Q1: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
Q2: What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him?
A: The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.
Q3: What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A: The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.
2Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
1Corinthians 15:1-8 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; (4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (5) And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: (6) After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. (7) After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. (8) And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
1Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
2Timothy 2:8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
“ He cannot long talk about Christian joy, or Christian ethics, or Christian fellowship, or the Christian doctrine of God, or anything else, without finally tying it to the cross. Paul is gospel-centered; he is cross-centered.” -D.A. Carson
1Timothy 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
“ The gospel is not only the most important message in all of history; it is the only essential message in all of history. Yet we allow thousands of professing Christians to live their entire lives without clearly understanding it and experiencing the joy of living by it.” –Jerry Bridges
“ All around us we see Christians and churches relaxing their grasp on the gospel, fumbling it, and in danger of letting it drop from their hands altogether.” –John Stott
“ The symptoms that arise from not being cross-centered are easy to spot. Do any of these describe you? You often lack joy, you’re not consistently growing in spiritual maturity, your love for God lacks passion, you’re always looking for some new technique, some ‘new truth’ or new experience that will pull all the pieces of faith together.” He goes on to point out that the answer to this or “The key to joy, to growth, to passion isn’t hiding from you. It’s right before your eyes. It’s the gospel.” –C.J. Mahaney