What’s The Purpose Of Discernment?

Discernment ScrollThis past Sunday I asked people on Facebook and Twitter what they believe the purpose of discernment is. Happily, several people responded, and all of them had excellent answers.

Most respondents emphasized that discernment enables us to distinguish between truth and error. Several elaborated that discernment protects the Church from false teaching. I wholeheartedly agree, and I praise God for giving us such a wonderful shield against deception. So many theological aberrations compete for our attention that discernment cannot be optional.

Two friends delighted me by going a bit deeper. One noted that discernment was, at the bottom line, for God’s glory. Her answer got to the very heart of what I wanted to say in this essay. If we consider discernment as having its purpose apart from glorifying Him, we make the disastrous mistake of once again placing ourselves in the center of God’s purposes.

The other friend expanded on the first friend’s answer by citing Scripture:

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~~Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)

He added that discernment helps us serve and love God better. My heart definitely did a happy dance when I read his comment because he so closely resembled my daily prayer concerning discernment.

As I come to my time in God’s Word each day, I ask the Lord to increase my discernment through its doctrines. But immediately I sense impure motives for that prayer request. I feel a strong temptation to make the request so that I can excel as a discernment blogger. Confessing that horridly self-serving motive, I discipline myself to instead ask for discernment in order that I might worship Him in spirit and in truth.

It appears to me that people frequently label themselves as discernment bloggers so that they can establish their authority. Not all commit this sin, I realize, but I’d hazard a guess that even those who don’t commit it experience the temptation, at least occasionally. If we pretend not to feel that pull, we put ourselves in tremendous danger.

Discernment is necessary in navigating the Christian life, especially with so much false teaching creeping into even the best churches. By all means, pray to be discerning! But please make sure you ultimately seek this attribute for God’s glory rather than your own purposes.

 

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The Best Method For Vetting Discernment Bloggers

IMG_1892Imagine believers testing the teachings of the apostle Paul! To Bible-believing Christians, the very thought of scrutinizing him seems preposterous! We now understand that several of his letters rightfully belong in the Canon of Scripture. In the early days of his ministry, however, his apostolic authority hadn’t yet been recognized, so Jewish believers had to find a way of authenticating his doctrine.

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. ~~Acts 17:10-12 (ESV)

Discernment bloggers love quoting verse 11. They want us to use the Word of God as a standard for determining whether or not someone is a false teacher. Obviously, I wholeheartedly agree with measuring someone’s ministry against Scripture’s teachings the way those noble Bereans did — that’s one of the main reasons I constantly encourage you to read your Bibles and use sound methods of interpretation.

Being good Bereans also requires that we Continue reading

Praying For Your Pastor To Preach Clearly And Accurately

Praying WifeAs we close this series on praying for our pastors, let’s talk about his most important ministry (aside from his ministry to his wife and children). In order to do so, we need to turn again to Paul’s words to Timothy:

 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. ~~2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV)

Paul wrote this epistle from prison, acutely aware that he would soon be beheaded for proclaiming the Gospel. Except for personal requests, this passage contains his last instructions to the young pastor. For that reason, he began (in verse 1) by emphasizing the solemnity of Continue reading

Praying For Your Pastor To Counsel Biblically

Pray For Pastor

Sadly, I’ve belonged to churches that believed pastoral counseling could only go so far before referring someone to a professional counselor (meaning a counselor trained to use psychology). The acknowledgment that some problems stretch beyond a pastor’s paygrade seems humble until you realize that such actions call the sufficiency of Scripture into question.

Regular readers know I love 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (ESV)

Generally, I quote this passage to substantiate the sufficiency of Scripture, and doing so doesn’t wrench it out of context. But have you ever stopped to think that Paul wrote this epistle to Timothy, in part, in order to Continue reading

Praying For Your Pastor’s Friendships

Pray For PastorDon’t you cherish the friends God has  blessed you with in the body of Christ? Whether those friends attend the same local church with you, worship at a church you attended in the past or connect with you online, they encourage your growth in Christ. You need them and they need you! Nothing matures a Christian quite like fellowship.

Have you ever thought about the opportunities your pastor has for mutual friendships? Certainly, he spends time with the other elders in the church, and may even host a men’s Bible Study. But as the primary authority figure Continue reading

Praying For Your Pastor’s Family Life

Pray For Pastor

If your pastor is like mine, he probably has the sort of marriage that honors the Lord. He’s probably a devoted husband and an excellent father. And he’d better be! 1 Timothy 3:2-4 and Titus 1:6 mandate such qualities, which Ephesians 5:25-30 and Ephesians 6:4 flesh out. We must expect nothing less from the men who lead our churches.

Precisely because Scripture holds pastors (and elders) to their high standards, they need our prayers. After all, those of us in the pews aren’t perfect spouses or parents, are we? Doesn’t it stand to reason, that being the case, that our pastors also experience Continue reading

Praying For Your Pastor To Resist Temptation

Pray For PastorYour pastor, like mine, requires your prayers on a regular basis. He’s probably a godly man whose faithfulness and integrity serves as a model for everyone in the congregation, making it seem as if he’s a spiritual giant with no personal problems or needs. His willingness and availability to minister to each person in the church lend credence to the idea that he exists solely for our benefit. Thus, we often fail to understand that he has just as many physical and spiritual needs as we have.

This week, I plan to offer a few ideas on how we can pray for our pastors. By no means will I touch on every area in which these men need prayer support; I regret my own shortcomings in praying for the two men who shepherd the church I attend. Rather, I hope my posts will spark ideas, leading you to develop your own ways of praying for your pastor.

For me, the most difficult area of praying for my pastors has been Continue reading