That one word has so many different connotations.
Many see it as a bunch of angry Reformed Theologians who run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to take down anyone who might disagree with any theological position they might have. Others, like Perry Noble, see discernment as a bunch of bloggers sitting in their mom's basement, in their underwear, behind a computer screen, lobbing accusations against famous pastors. And still others are like Mark Driscoll, where he claims the Holy Spirit shows him on his own private TV screen (think Google Glass) people in his congregation graphically sinning... and then calls that the "gift" of discernment. The problem is, none of those examples are Biblical Discernment.
So what is Biblical Discernment? Let's take a look at it in action.
In Acts 17:10-15, we see Paul and Silas traveling to Berea (after getting kicked out of Thessolonica in the beginning of the chapter). As was Paul's custom, he went and spoke in the Jewish Synogogue and began preaching about the Messiah.
Imagine you are one of the Jews in the Synagogue hearing this random guy come in and start preaching that the Messiah had already come, died, rose from the dead... and that He was, in fact, the Son of God! What would be your natural reaction be? Yeah, right... prove it! So Paul begins laying out his defense of Jesus as the prophesied Messiah.
Now, if you go back to Paul's experience in Thessolonica, the Jews there responded to Paul's preaching by forming a mob, setting the city in an uproar, and attacking the house where they were staying... and finally kicked them out of the city! To be honest, those people probably thought that they were "Defending God's Glory" by running them out of town... I mean, come on - these guys were saying that the Messiah had already come and that he had been killed and rose from the dead... how crazy is that?!?
So, back to Berea... how did the Bereans respond? They listened to Paul's preaching, they "received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so", and then understood that what Paul was saying lines up with the Scriptures. That is Biblical Discernment in action! The Bereans were even called "more noble than those in Thessalonica" because of how they responded to Paul's preaching.
Now take a look at your life... are you listening to what your pastor is preaching, reading what your favorite writer is writing or seeing the message in the latest "biblical movie" and comparing it with the Bible before deciding whether to accept the teaching as truth or not?Are you jumping the gun and saying that someone is a false teacher too early, just because you don't like what they say? Or are you following a false teacher, all while not comparing their teaching to the Bible? It can go both ways. We need to remember, discernment is simply taking what someone says, comparing it with the Bible, and then deciding if what they are saying is true or false based upon that research.
I hope that you will join me and trying to follow the Bereans example.
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