As I write this blog on the subject of discernment, I find myself considering Jesus’ admonition from John 7:24 where He says, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” It leaves me in a bit of conundrum: should I make a judgement, or am I really called to discern?
There is a difference.
Our English word for judge generally connotes a legal sentence. A judge is one who makes and passes judgement, based on law. But discernment is different: It is about peering into and differentiating the essentials from the non-essentials, with the intention of deriving the true value of something. Discernment considers deeply, evaluating the valuable from the worthless, or better, truth from falsehood.
We live in a broken world and as followers of Christ we are constantly facing the need for right discernment. So how are we to discern? We discern with theology – the study of God.
Dr. R.C. Sproul wrote a book called, Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Sproul’s assertion is that everyone, regardless of his or her religious point of view, has a distinct view of God. The question for Christians is not are you a theologian but are you a good theologian? Our discernment, the outcome of how we think, separating truth from error, has a direct correlation to our theology. I imagine most of you would agree with that statement, as it relates to biblical matters, but I want us to recognize that discernment goes beyond the walls of the church proper and includes our interactions at home, work and play. Our theology drives how we live and act, not just how we worship.
Pastor Mark has just concluded a three part series on the “Hearing Church.” God is speaking to His people. Are we listening? Pastor Mark’s first sermon was on expository preaching – the simple, clear and straight-forward exposition of God’s Word, which alone, discerns “the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Next, he taught us about Biblical Theology and the “Whole Story of God.” Lastly, the important role of Systematic Theology.
Why do our pastors and the elders earnestly desire for you to know multi-facets of theology? So that as our Heavenly Father speaks to us through His Word we will be able to hear Him rightly.
What is the benefit? The answer is good discernment.
We are constantly evaluating the world we live and hopefully we are becoming ever more skillful to discern the correct thoughts, appropriate actions and glory-filled worship that please Him.
- Selby Brannon