Category: Discernment

Building Biblical Discernment

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

Transformed to Discern God’s Will

I remember how my thoughts about God’s Word changed when I was saved at 19. The Bible went from boring and irrelevant to alive and life changing. In Roman 12:2 Paul writes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

In order to be able to discern God’s will I first need to be transformed. This happens when I surrender my life to Christ and am saved and then daily as I walk with Him. The word transformed does not indicate a minor change but a radical change. I am not simply adding Jesus to complete my life which was already pretty good, there are deep profound changes that Jesus takes me through in salvation and while I walk with Him.

The verse goes on to say by testing we may discern God’s will. In my work we use lots of different established standards to test parts against to determine if they are good or bad. In the same way our standard is God’s Word which when properly applied causes us to discern what is good and from God. With all the distractions, partial truths and outright lies that are in the world today I desperately need to stay humble before God, seeking His Spirit to reveal His truth to me through the Word so I can discern rightly God’s heart in what I face. My prayers are with you that transformed by the work of the Spirit in your life, God’s Word would saturate your soul blessing you with Godly discernment in all you face.

  • Steve Selle

To Know And Be Known

Proverbs 9:10 says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” 

As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the reformation this month let’s turn to Calvin the reformer who wrote that our “Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But though the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are bound together by a mutual tie, due arrangement requires that we treat of the former in the first place, and then descend to the latter.”

Without a knowledge of self we cannot know God. There’s the rub. An honest look within can be quite disturbing. Upon reflection we are instinctively repelled and so pretense and pride rise to the defense. Created in the image of God a standard of perfection has already been revealed to us and so our shortcomings become immediately obvious. This knowledge of self with the sneaky suspicion that we just might not measure up sets us confidently off on a restless, frantic project of self-justification.

Then God’s loving mercy comes to us and quiets our souls. In grace we are convinced of the clear evidence of our pride, injustice, impurity, and folly. That troubling view of self, the beginning of wisdom, is actually only possible after we begin to fear the judge of all things and His perfect character. With that we are given insight to know and be known. Yes, an accurate knowledge of self is a picture worse than we can ever concede but the power of the Gospel to redeem us is far greater than we could ever dare to hope.  Only in the Gospel we are given ability to discern who we really are and to know and be known.

  • David Ortiz

Discernment for the Caring of Others

Ou rdo g’sna meisT af fy. …  Say what?

Well, the first observation is that the spell check on my computer is going crazy, as it endeavors to clear up what I am intentionally trying to leave as fuzzy.

The focus of this blog is discernment, which at its core is a process of joining and/or separating ideas at points of difference so that the obscure is seen and truth can be distinguished from untruth. The notion of joining or separating ideas for the purpose of rendering a judgement is very unsettling to our culture and is quickly becoming a lost discipline. Unknowingly, we do this all of time. Consider the mish-mash of letters in the first paragraph. As printed, the groupings of letters make no sense. However, when they are regrouped we discover that Our dog’s name is Taffy. The proper grouping of letters is required to understand (or discern) communication.

As Christians, we are called to step into the intersection of ideas.  We need to think Biblically, carefully understanding right from wrong and the significant from the trivial. Whenever we are confronted with a notion that culture’s preaches as “a truth,” we should think carefully and then armed with the Word of God rise above our own weakness to see the matter as God sees it. This is not something that is always intuitive; it requires work with a renewed mind, skilled in God’s Word. As we grow in Christ, He gives us a longing to join our hearts with our brothers and sisters. Spirit-filled unity provides a means for teaching and learning about the Gospel, doctrine and mission.

Do you normally think of your conversation in the foyer of the Chapel as chit-chat? Or, is it a dialogue where you and someone else are trying to come to a friendly agreement? Or, have you considered that the person you are talking to is off-course doctrinally and has a wrong view of spiritual things? When that happens, your words escalate from chit-chat, as God positions you in this conversation, to wrestle with a suffering heart. In that moment, you recognize the criticality of keen listening, while prayerfully awaiting the Holy Spirit to provide discernment and the loving words, sufficient to the need.

Our knowledge of God grounded in the Bible positions us to help others, who are ensnared in wrong thinking, longing to be free. Discernment should be a tool in every believer’s toolbox, helping us live, work and play to the Glory of God.

  • Selby Brannon