Posts Tagged ‘rightly divide the word of truth’

The Source and Supply of All Discernment

June 20, 2018

Sometimes I find myself getting into trouble with people who have varying opinions in regards to proper Christian/biblical discernment issues.

For instance. Back in April of 2016, I wrote a post entitled Syncretism Stew. That post has gotten a lot of attention over the past 14 months.

When questions arose several months ago regarding a family issue, all the differences came up in a family discussion about Christian beliefs.

As a Bible-based Berean Christian believer, I recognized the drill. Often, it is people who haven’t studied the Bible who are most critical of those who have, and thus they are labeled as “too religious.” Then, we have the opposite end of the spectrum where we find individuals who celebrate “diversity” to such an extent that they lack any type of discernment regarding genuine Christian beliefs.

When I had the opportunity to share a link to that Syncretism Stew post several months ago, the responses weren’t even dealing with the content. I imagined that many readers in the group text let their eyes  glaze over. Apparently, it was too much information at one time. So, I just shared and described the following graphic:

I added the definition of Syncretism too:

 

Today, via Truth 2 Freedom’s blog, I found a great essay that tells us how to avoid falling into the trap of syncretism.  It involves the need for discernment!

John McArthur’s Grace To You website has a wonderful new post up entitled The Source and Supply of All Discernment.

MacArthur asks:

If you could ask God for anything, what would that be?

Isn’t that a great question?

He goes on to cite what Solomon chose when God asked him that very question!

When he became king after the death of David, the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Ask what you wish Me to give you” (1 Kings 3:5).

Solomon asked for discernment: “Give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil” (1 Kings 3:9). Scripture says “it was pleasing in the sight of the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing” (1 Kings 3:10).

It pleased God that Solomon asked for wisdom (discernment).  It was an unselfish choice.  People desiring discernment need to “step outside of themselves,” be vulnerable (these days, being vulnerable especially to verbally and even physically abusive attacks), and realize that requesting an understanding heart to judge people and to discern between good and evil will cause conflict!  It’s inevitable!  Especially in today’s world of “anything goes” and if you don’t believe the same way as others, you are labeled as a bigot, hater, mean,  etc.

MacArthur writes:

Modern evangelicalism, enamored with psychology and self-esteem, has produced a generation of believers so self-absorbed that they cannot be discerning. People aren’t even interested in discernment. Their spiritual focus is on self and getting their own “felt needs” met.

Wow!  Is that ever true!  Many adherents of “modern evangelicalism” come from the Millennial generation.  They often fall into such a trap as this and are missing the call for true discernment in how they act with others.  Being “self-absorbed” can often be done with the influence of manipulators.  For example.  Just because someone has a degree in psychology, even a so-called “Christian” based type, does not mean that they will use it properly.  What’s more, someone who claims to have a “light” within them may not be following true discernment, and thus think more highly of themselves which can also lead others astray.

We know that God granted Solomon more than just wisdom.  He also provided riches, honor and long life.  The caveat was that Solomon was to continue to walk in the ways of the Lord.

John MacArthur has excellent advice for us all:

  In the same way, James 1:5 promises us—as New Testament believers—that God is still eager to provide us with the discernment we so desperately need: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

Hat tips:

Truth 2 Freedom’s blog
Grace to You

Graphics websites

Discernment Through Christ, With Love Incorruptible

May 3, 2018

On Monday, May 2, 2018, I watched a Dr. Phil show about a young woman who was brought into a cult group known as “The Church of Wells.” Readers can see several videos about this cult at YouTube.

Here is one video describing the two-part broadcast on this cult:

I saw the second broadcast which was mostly about the tragic story of the Grove family whose daughter has been there since 2013. She tried to escape four times.

Parents:

A photo of their daughter before she was brainwashed and indoctrinated:

A photo after years with the cult:

It was truly heartbreaking and very sad to hear how desperately grieved the parents were over the mind control and indoctrination that made their daughter into a completely different person!  Apparently, she made it home one time but left and returned to the cult.  Sometimes, the mind control is so strong that it renders the victim helpless to break out of it.

The “church” building is creepy!

The “elders” are creepy!

 

 

*******

Can “love” be corrupted?  I think so.  It can be corrupted,  by unregenerate people who utilize obviously extremely wicked, heinous and vile techniques and ideas on others, as well as those who are more sneaky and subtle in their “counseling” approach.  “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong.  It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”C.H. Spurgeon

 

You might think that Christians would know to avoid such obvious examples of cult behavior and severe indoctrination techniques (i.e. secretly drugging them through water given; plus food, bathroom and sleep deprivation, and the “deep dive” mind control methods) which were used on the victims at Wells.

Perhaps.

But how about the more subtle cases of pulling someone away from their family and friends?

How?

  1.  Through mind control
  2.  Anti-biblical indoctrination techniques (often disguised as “counseling”)
  3.  Making victims think that their previously good upbringing was somehow “bad” for them.
  4.  What about the churches who steer people away from the truth of the Bible?  There are so many of them!  And, the Bible warns us that the closer we get to the end times, many who aren’t discerning about such churches will be fooled.

That is where recognition of such errors is ESSENTIAL in order to avoid heresy and to utilize the discernment Scriptures in the Bible when any individual needs to, and should, evaluate what someone with possibly subtle nefarious intentions is doing to them!

Excerpt with some good advice and a warning:

Only the spiritual man (regenerate) possesses the knowledge of God’s will….because he has the mind of Christ.  Henry calls to our attention that it is through reading the scriptures that the spiritual man receives the knowledge of His will.

Before we move on we must add a word of caution from blogger and author Tim Challies.  Speaking on discernment in “How can I increase my spiritual discernment?” he wrote:

Some have mistakenly defined spiritual discernment as a God-given awareness of evil or good spiritual presences—the ability to tell if a demon is in the room. While some people may possess this capability, it is not the biblical meaning of discernment. Spiritual discernment ultimately has to do with wisdom and the ability to distinguish truth from error.

So – how do Christians grow in spiritual discernment?  Two ways.  By allowing the Holy Spirit to be their guiding light; likewise, thorough carefully studying the Bible.

What should we do to determine if a person’s teaching is unbiblical? We are commanded to test what’s being taught. In fact, Paul urges believers to “test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) Likewise, John encourages us to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” How does one test a spirit?  By reading the scriptures, in context, for that’s where Truth is found. Why is “testing” so important? “For many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1) False prophets/teachers distort the truth….which is why the Bible refers to them as false teachers and wolves in sheep’s clothing.  It’s no exaggeration to say that a large number of charlatans knowingly—and without a smidgeon of guilt–lie through their teeth. Admittedly, examining someone’s teaching is no easy task.  But nowhere in Scripture are we told that it should be left to “professionals”; it is clearly our responsibility.

We mustn’t ignore the fact that any teaching that fails to line up with what the scriptures say is not from God.  And if the Bible’s not the source of his/her teaching, most likely its source is the “spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places.”  Satan’s not called the father of lies because he’s a truth teller!

Far too many Christians rely on the discernment of other believers, like those of us involved in online discernment ministries. It’s okay to learn from each other (iron sharpens iron), but again, we must do as the Bereans did – test!  Regrettably, when it comes to testing for errors, a growing number of professing Christians deserve a failing grade.

Yes!   We must do as the Bereans did – test!

FYI, In a question and answer page at the Berean website, a pingback link to TalkWisdom’s post entitled “Syncretism Stew” is at the bottom of the page.

My prayer continues that through the leading of Jesus Christ in my life that I would be corrected when needed in my writings here and most of all, be led to write Biblically accurate and discerning posts for as long as I run this blog.

I also pray, dear readers, that you each would be led towards discovering the truth within God’s Word through diligent study of the Scriptures so that each of you can earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

In Jesus,
Christine

Hat tips to all links.

“To The Ruin of the Hearers.” – 2 Timothy 2:14c

December 28, 2017

It is a tremendous privilege to share the Gospel of Christ; to share and explain Bible verses to those who may not have studied the Word of God diligently.  It is also an extreme responsibility for the Christian teacher to “get it right.”  How does a Christian achieve this?  I think that 2 Timothy 2 gives us much insight, and I will also share some applicable commentary from David Guzik at Blue Letter Bible.

2Ti 2:10
Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

2Ti 2:11
This is a faithful saying:

For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.

2Ti 2:12
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.

2Ti 2:13
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.

2Ti 2:14
Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.

David Guzik:

c. To the ruin of the hearers: This shows that it is a serious matter and there is much to lose. If we take the focus off the message of God, and put the focus on human opinions and endless debates, it will result in the ruin of the hearers.

i. The Bible says, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Yet if people do not hear the word of God, then ruin comes by hearing the opinions and speculations and entertainment of man.

Guzik stresses that we NOT focus on human opinions and endless debates.  Why?  Because it will result in the ruin of the hearers!  Why?  Because if all that people are subjected to is “the opinions and speculations and entertainment of man,” then they won’t hear the Word of God.

The crux of the matter is this:  we must be diligent, approved unto God so we are not ashamed; and in order to do this we must be “rightly dividing the word of truth.”

2Ti 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

In the very next verse, we are told to:

2Ti 2:16
But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

This, my dear readers, is why there are those who claim to be Christian, but they are far removed from Christ because they reject the teachings of the Bible and lead others to “more ungodliness” because they do not “shun profane and idle babblings.”

David Guzik:

2. (2Ti 2:15) Keep focused; pay attention to your own life and ministry.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

a. Be diligent: Paul often had to exhort Timothy to courage and action. Earlier in the chapter (2 Timothy 2:3-5), Paul encouraged him to hard work and endurance for the service of the Lord.

b. To present yourself approved to God: Timothy’s goal was not to present himself approved to people, but to God. He wasn’t to regard the job of being a pastor as a popularity contest but instead as a call to faithfulness to God.

c. To present yourself approved to God: Timothy wasn’t to worry so much about presenting other people approved to God (though there was a place for this in his pastoral ministry). His first concern had to be to present himself approved to God.

d. A worker who does not need to be ashamed: It is embarrassing to do a job poorly and then to have your work examined. The Bible warns us that the work of each Christian will be examined at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). Therefore we have another motivation to work diligently for the Lord, so we will not be ashamed when our work is examined.

i. “It is better explained as a workman who has no cause for shame when his work is being inspected.” (White)

e. Rightly dividing the word of truth: This was to be a focus of Timothy’s hard work. He was to work hard so he could rightly divide the word of God.

i. Timothy, as a faithful pastor, was to be rightly dividing God’s Word. That is, he had to know what it said and didn’t say, and how it was to be understood and how it was not to be understood. It wasn’t enough for Timothy to know some Bible stories and verses and sprinkle them through his sermons as illustrations. His teaching was to be a “right dividing” of the Word of God, correctly teaching his congregation.

ii. “Swords are meant to cut and hack, and wound, and kill with, and the word of truth is for pricking men in the heart and killing their sins. The word of God is not committed to God’s ministers to amuse men with its glitter, nor to charm them with the jewels in its hilt, but to conquer their souls for Jesus.” (Spurgeon)

iii. Rightly dividing has several ideas associated with the ancient term.

· Rightly handle the Word of God, as one would rightly handle a sword.
· Plow straight with the Word of God, properly presenting the essential doctrines.
· Properly dissect and arrange the Word of God, as a priest would dissect and arrange and animal for sacrifice.
· Allot to each their portion, as someone distributing food at a table.

f. Rightly dividing: This also means there is such a thing as wrongly dividing; not everyone cuts it straight. We must understand that Biblical truth is not just an issue left up to everyone’s interpretation. There is a right way and a wrong way to understand the Bible, and a pastor especially must work hard to master the right interpretation.

i. For example, many people love to say when the Bible is quoted, “Well, that’s just your interpretation.” Their idea is, “You interpret the Bible your way, I interpret it my way, and another person interprets it their way. We can never really know what it means, so don’t judge me with your Bible verse.”

ii. When someone tells me, “That’s just your interpretation,” I think in response: “It’s true that it is my interpretation, but it isn’t just my interpretation, it is the correct interpretation, and we need to pay attention to what the Bible says correctly interpreted.”

iii. This is an important point: The Bible does not mean just what anyone wants it to mean. There may be many people trying to twist the Scriptures to their own ends, but they are wrongly dividing the word of truth. We can’t just pick the interpretation that seems most comfortable to us, and claim it as true – it must be rightly dividing the word of truth, and it must be consistent with what the Bible says in the specific passage and with the entire message of the Scriptures.

iv. For example, a correct interpretation of Matthew 7:1 (Judge not, that you be not judged) is not the idea of “You have no right to judge my behavior or any one else’s behavior.” If this were the case, then Jesus repeatedly broke His own commandment, because He often told people their behavior was wrong in the sight of God. The correct understanding of Matthew 7:1 is easily seen by reading Matthew 7:2: For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Jesus was saying “Don’t judge anyone by a standard you are not willing to be judged by. God will hold you to the same standard you hold others to.” This clearly does not forbid judging someone else’s life, but it does prohibit doing it unfairly or hypocritically, or living with a judgmental attitude.

v. The point is clear: There is a right way and a wrong way to divide the Matthew 7:1, which is one verse in the word of truth. Every Christian, but pastors especially, must work hard to be rightly dividing the word of truth. Though perfection in understanding God’s word is impossible, and should never be assumed, we should still work hard at it.

3. (2Ti 2:16-18) The price of not keeping focus: The faith of some is overthrown.

But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.

a. But shun profane and vain babblings: This refers to anything that takes the focus off of the gospel and God’s Word. These babblings are profane because they are unholy in contrast to the holiness of God’s Word. They are vain, because even though people like to hear them, they don’t have lasting value.

i. Man’s opinions, man’s teachings, man’s opinion polls, man’s stories, man’s programs, are all profane and vain babblings compared to the simple Word of God. When these things become the focus of the message from the pulpit, it will increase to more ungodliness.

b. Their message will spread like cancer: The message of profane and vain babblings may spread quickly and be popular. They are like a cancer that spreads fast and captures an audience.

i. Who in 2 Timothy 2:18 “Implies that Hymenaeus and Philetus were only the more conspicuous members of a class of false teachers.” (White)

c. Hymenaeus and Philetus: Hymenaeus is mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20 as a man whom Paul delivered to Satan that [he] may learn not to blaspheme. This is the only place where we hear of Philetus, and here Paul tells us of their error.

i. They were of this sort – that is, they had a message full of profane and vain babblings, and apparently the message was somewhat popular, because it spread quickly.

ii. They had strayed concerning the truth: Apparently, they started out correctly, and then strayed from that correct position.

iii. They were saying that the resurrection is already past: It seems they were teaching that we were already in God’s millennial kingdom, or that there was no resurrection to come – it had already occurred.

iv. They did overthrow the faith of some: Though the only false doctrine Paul mentioned regarding these two is that they taught that the resurrection is already past, the effect was to overthrow the faith of some. Undoubtedly, this was not their only error; and a fundamental error in such an area often leads to many more strange beliefs, until one has abandoned Jesus and His truth all together.

v. Many today accept and honor teachers who are way off in one area or another; and they justify it by saying, “I eat the meat and spit out the bones.” This kind of thinking will certainly overthrow the faith of some, because some will certainly choke to spiritual death on the bones you say you spit out.

vi. Notice Paul said, they overthrow the faith of some. We shouldn’t require that everyone be led astray by a teacher before we avoid them; even if some are having their faith overthrown, it is bad enough.

So, we can see clearly in this portion of Scripture how VERY IMPORTANT it is to “rightly divide God’s Word!”  Why?  Because:

[a]nd a fundamental error in such an area often leads to many more strange beliefs, until one has abandoned Jesus and His truth all together.

Hat tip:  David Guzik commentary at Blue Letter Bible.


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