The Urgent Need For Discernment By Christians
by Dr. Andrew Corbett
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment… Philippians 1:9
Ever hear something that didn’t quite sound right? Chances are that you discerned something. To discern means to judge, evaluate and distinguish. When you discern something you are potentially protecting both yourself and others from spiritual peril. So important is the ability to discern that Christ has specifically gifted the Church with a very special gift to ensure that it happens (1Corinthians 12:10). Yet, those who are gifted with discernment are often seen as judgmental, critical and therefore: unloving. What other gift of the Holy Spirit results in such rejection and dismissal as that of discernment? But what other gift of the Holy Spirit is needed more now than ever before? Here’s why.
1. THE MODERN PROLIFERATION OF IDEAS
We now live in an age when ideas are spread globally within an amazingly short period of time. Over-generally, doctrinally orthodox Christians have been too slow to harness this. All the while, New Age Anti-Christ religions, Cultists, and Charismatic swindlers have reveled in this technological phenomenon. While the internet can enable much elegance, it can also enable massive misinformation. There is little regulation of internet content and bloggers can virtually say whatever they want. Sometimes this is helpful. Sometimes it is not. Therefore, Christians need discernment more than ever.
2. DIFFERING EXPRESSIONS OF CHURCH
According to Patrick Johnson (Missiologist), there are now over 32,000 denominations of Christianity. Most of these denominations have no formal ministerial training requirements for their workers (pastors). The preachers in most of these churches are not vocationally professional in the sense that they have been trained to graduate level and do nothing other than concentrate on preaching / teaching / ministry). They are often classified as “bi-vocational”. These pastors often do not have the professional skill-set to expound the original intention of a Scriptural text or to discern the subtleties of doctrinal error being promoted by superstar tele-preachers. Because of the historically high number of bi-vocational pastors and the coinciding high number of tele-preachers in our times, the need for discernment among Christians is needed more than ever.
3. CHRISTIANS ARE PREDISPOSED TOWARD BELIEVING
Christians believe in a God they can not see. Christians accept the testimony of a Book written thousands of years ago. Christianity is based on a subjective conversion experience and endorses the possibility of supernatural interaction such as visions, dreams, revelations, inner healing and claims to predict the future. Often there is no apparent objective way to determine whether these claims are true or not. This is rarely seen as a problem for Christians. But it makes Christians vulnerable to being deceived. History verifies this.
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