Friday, July 13, 2012

It is important to be discerning!

A warning from my heart. One thing that strikes me is how few (seemingly) Christians really know how late the hour is. I'm still struck by Pastor James Murphy's sermon, the raw and pointed one he delivered last Sunday in Johnson City NY. He said that the time has come to stop fooling around. Knowing the Word of God through diligent study and practice of discernment is too important. And he said, shame on them if they didn't think it was important. It is.

And if we know the word of God we know how late the hour is. Paul said that we are children of the Light and will not be surprised as we see the Day approaching. (1 Thess 5:4.) The writer of Hebrews said that we should not stop assembling together, we should do it all the more as we see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25). Not as we believe the day is approaching. Not as we pray that the day might be approaching. As we SEE the day approaching.

Knowing the lateness of the hour ties in with this verse: "For where your treasure is, there your heart shall be also." (Matthew 6:21). Is our treasure Jesus? Or is it this world? At this late hour are we part of a Laodicean church? Jesus had charges against that church-

‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see." (Rev 3:15-18).

The Worship of Mammon, E. DeMorgan, 1909
Are we buying gold from Mammon? So that we may be comfortable and rich and have need of nothing? And so not have need of Jesus? Are we walking in self-confidence (Beth Moore), satisfied with our best life now (Joel Osteen), doing lukewarm works with Jesus as a footnote (Rick Warren), manipulating God so he will be forced to release the blessing (Joyce Meyer), begging for 'seed money' (Jentezen Franklin) and throwing people who "hinder" us off the bus where the bodies are piling up? (Mark Driscoll)?

Or are we the church at Philadelphia, where Jesus said we "have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." ?

That is the main problem with the global church body today, but especially UK, Canada, Australia and US. We deny Jesus. Oh, sure, a name of Jesus is preached from pulpits, if they even dare to call it a pulpit, some just call it a podium, but it is from a different Gospel and it refers to a different Jesus. THE Jesus of the bible is denied again and again.

Over 120 years ago Charles Haddon Spurgeon predicted, "A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats." Oh, how right he was.

Mammon, George Frederic Watts, 1884
Our generation is "Sacrificing biblical truth for the cause of ecumenical unity and promotion of carnal methodology in churches are the norm of our age" wrote Chris Lawson in his April newsletter, "Clowning around in the pulpit." He wrote, "Instead of playing fast and loose with God's church, Christian leaders ought to be discussing bible prophecy in light of global events and teaching biblical discernment in light of the end-times apostasy."

Oh how right he is. Are pastors, teachers, and leaders teaching biblical discernment? A few. Praise them, and thank you Lord for raising up the pastors and teachers who are. But they are increasingly few...Grant Jeffrey is home with the Lord now, as is David Wilkerson, Adrian Rogers, and others. I see few discerning elders on the near horizon to take their place. And increasingly, the ones who are still teaching and preaching biblical discernment are not listened to. I wonder what the fallout has been for Pastor James Murphy up in Johnson City.

Thus, today, instead of the norm in our bible-believing churches being the Prince of Preachers warning 120 years ago about the coming clown parade,



We get the clowns:

Ed Young and wife, preaching about sex
for 24 hours from a bed on his church roof
'Bishop' Charles Ellis prays for the future of the
American auto industry
with three hybrid cars as the backdrop during
a special sermon called "A Hybrid Hope" 2008
Believers are warned again and again throughout the Old Testament and the New about the dangers of idols, false teaching and false prophets. Are we, in the twenty-first century so smart that we can afford to ignore these? No. Are we who are the generation living in the latter days so advanced that we can ignore the warnings of end of times apostasy? No.

source
So what are we to do? John MacArthur preached on the verses from  Thessalonians 5:21-22, in a series titled "A Call for Discernment." In part 1 he said, "We cannot for a moment believe that every one who claims to be in Christ and to speak on behalf of Christ is speaking the truth." But yet so many people do. In 1 Thess 5:16 "starting with verse 16, Paul has been listing the basics of Christian living...rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus, do not quench the Spirit, do not despise Scripture or the revelation of God. And now he comes to this one, examine everything."

Just because a person says they come in the name of Christ, they may not. Just because they are popular or long-lasting, doesn't mean they get a pass on whether they should be examined. The Bereans were called noble for examining the scriptures to see if they lined up with what Paul said. And Paul loved it.

Here are some discernment resources:

MacArthur Sermons-
A Call For Discernment Part 1
A Call for Discernment Part 2
A Call for Discernment Part 3

Books-
The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies
A Call for Discernment, Jay Adams

Study-
Discernment is a Commandment
Discernment in the Church
Discernment and the Watchman

The best Resource of all is the Holy Spirit! And the bible itself.

Brethren, the hour is late. The watchword of the day is not our pits or self or confidence or release or seed or seeker. Repentance is the watchword, because after that, comes wrath.

2 comments:

  1. I would be cautious of Tim Challies' book The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment as well. I've read the book and was terribly disappointed. The bible gives us doctrine and absolutes whereby we may measure things that go on around us; it is firm and solid and unwavering like a yardstick. Challies book mentions the yardstick but by the time he is finished with it you have a noodle. If that is the type of discernment being used in today's churches (and it is!) there should be little wonder that there is virtually NO discernment. BTW, I love the other resources listed! I appreciate the work you do on this blog, keep up the good work! (fight the good fight)
    God bless! Lois

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lois,

      Thanks for your caution on Challies book. I read it. I agree that sometimes he is soft. Overall I enjoyed his definition of discernment and also the methods to employ it. I agree wholeheartedly that at times Challies goes overboard with soft pedaling language so as not to offend. LOL 'the noodle'. Perhaps MacArthur's 'Reckless Faith' would be more solid and to your liking (and mine).Thanks for reading, bless you.

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