Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense, Part 3

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(Read the series.)

Objections to Discernment

Despite the clear mandate given throughout the Scriptures concerning the necessity for biblical discernment and critique, most continue to be critical of the whole concept. Ironically, those who preach most tenaciously the need for tolerance are themselves intolerant of those who seek to faithfully follow God’s directives in this matter. Let’s briefly identify and analyze some of the most common objections often heard protesting the need for discernment.

1. What right do we have to judge others?

Some claim that the best known verse of Scripture in America is Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” Most who recite this command do so without the advantage of having ever read it in context. If they were to do so they would see that the Lord is not calling a moratorium on examining the lives and teachings of others; He simply wants us to do it in the correct way. The Lord tells us to first judge ourselves. When that has been done properly we are in a position to help others with their sins and false beliefs (Matt 7:1-5). Read more about Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense, Part 3

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Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense, Part 2

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(Read the series so far.)

The Necessity

As we survey the Word of God it is impossible to miss the prominent place that God places on truth and the deep concern that our Lord has when His people err in doctrine or in living. The Old Testament is permeated with calls to live on the basis of God’s truth and warnings about those who stray and teach anything else. For example the heartbeat of God is evident in Jeremiah 23,

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord… “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; they speak a vision of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord… The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth… Behold I am against those who have prophesied false dreams… I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit…” (Jer 23:1,16, 28, 32).

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Christian Movies - Ministry or Menace? (Part 2)

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After reading part one of this two-part series, and seeing all the good things accomplished by Christian films, one might wonder if anything could or should be wrong with them or if any negative aspects could or should overshadow the positive ones.

It was evident in the “Who’s Who in Religious Films” article that Youth for Christ lauded the Christian film industry as beneficial for missions and evangelistic efforts. However, those familiar with A.W. Tozer know that he was unsympathetic to that viewpoint. Tozer’s seven arguments against Christian films were abridged in Youth for Christ Magazine along with Evon Hedley’s seven arguments in favor of Christian films in an article titled “Christian Movies? The Pro and Con of Religious Films.” The pro arguments of Hedley and con arguments of Tozer in that 1954 article are summarized below.

A church service using a Christian film “is geared to the drawing in of the net for people to seek Christ as Saviour or to offer their lives as missionary volunteers.” Even though the entertainment world shows religious films in the theatre, the best place for them is the church where the service is planned for evangelistic purposes.

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A Christian movie “violates the Scriptural law of hearing” because “God gave to mankind His great redemptive revelation … in words.” Therefore, “the Bible rules out pictures and dramatics as media for bringing faith and life to the human soul.” Vital, spiritual truth is not expressed by a picture, but by spoken or written words.

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Christian Movies - Ministry or Menace? (Part 1)

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In January 1954, Youth for Christ Magazine, in the article “Who’s Who in Religious Films,” spotlighted key people and organizations involved in Christian film production. Around this same time, A.W. Tozer wrote “The Menace of the Religious Movie” in which he opposed the use of Christian films to portray spiritual or biblical dramatic performances. Youth for Christ was in favor of Christian films because of the decisions for Christ that accompanied them. However, they also recognized that there was opposition and sought to quell it by highlighting the positive aspects they saw with Christian films.

Below is a summary of the “Who’s Who” article presenting the justifications and rationale of those involved in and supportive of Christian films at that time.

The Early Days

C.O. Baptista was credited with pioneering the Christian film idea in the late 1930s. Baptista said that while using an object lesson during Sunday school “he suddenly caught a vision of what that same object lesson could do if presented as a motion picture in churches.” Baptista produced dramatic films, sermon-type pictures, and animated films. Reportedly, “hundreds of professions of faith” resulted from the showing of just one of his dramatic films. Read more about Christian Movies - Ministry or Menace? (Part 1)

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Sanctification and Giving Up

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All believers experience spiritual frustration. We desire to live lives that are obedient to our Lord and that grow in likeness to His life of humble service (Mark 10:45). But anyone who is a believer for very long discovers that failure is common. Those who take 1 Peter 1:15 seriously (“be holy for I am holy”; see also 2 Cor. 7:1) and who do not think of themselves more highly than they ought to think (Rom. 12:3), know that they are far from what they ought to be. Transformation into His image (Rom. 8:29, Col. 3:10) never seems to happen quite fast enough.

Sadly, some are so often and so painfully disappointed with themselves and others that they give up on the idea of changing much at all, and many of these take up a theology that supports that response. A recent example appeared in a post by Christianity Today editor Mark Galli.

I doubt the ability of Christians to make much progress in holiness. I look at churches that are committed to transformation and holiness, and I fail to see that they are much more holy or transformed than other churches…. I look at my own life, and marvel at the lack of real transformation after 50 years of effort.

Galli has written along similar lines previously (“If at First You Don’t Succeed, Stop Trying So Hard”) but is by no means alone in de-emphasizing the role of personal effort and obedience in living the Christian life. Read more about Sanctification and Giving Up

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Not Separating What God Has Joined Together - Aphorisms for Thinking about Separation

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Please, consider reading all of the preceding articles before delving into this one. While I’ve tried to make them each stand alone, they are linked together.

Aphorism 4: None of the commands of Scripture contradict the other commands when rightly understood, and to be correctly applied and interpreted all of the commands of Scripture must work together.

Eight hundred feet below the surface of the water, in a cramped nuclear submarine armed with ballistic missiles, my friend and newly minted lieutenant felt like he was faced with an impossible decision. On Sunday morning would he meet and worship with the dozen or so sailors on the boat that professed Christ but belonged to compromised groups (American Baptist, United Methodist, etc.) or quietly pray by himself in his bunk? Would he “be separate” (ESV, 2 Cor. 6:17) or neglect “to meet together” (Heb. 10:25)? Would he “[b]ear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) or would he “[p]urge the evil person” (1 Cor. 5:13)? Read more about Not Separating What God Has Joined Together - Aphorisms for Thinking about Separation

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Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense, Part 1

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Discernment in our times

We live in an environment in which it is most difficult to stand for the faith. Not only will those who attempt to be on the front lines of discernment face the guns of those in opposition, but they may be hit by “friendly fire” as well.

For example: I recently wrote what I thought was a rather innocuous article expressing a high view of Scripture including a belief in its sufficiency. I was nevertheless surprised to receive a quick email rebuke by a pastor who also claimed to believe in the inerrancy, authority and sufficiency of the Bible and who ultimately accused me of taking what he called a “biblical charismatic” view. When I inquired as to how that could be, since I believe God speaks to us today only through Scripture and charismatics believe God speaks through means beyond the written Word, he did not reply.

I did not mean to imply to this pastor that I reject general revelation in which “the heavens are telling of the glory of God” (Ps 19:1-6), but that specific, authoritative revelation for this church age is confined to the Old and New Testaments. God is not adding new revelation or inspired texts to supplement the canon of Scripture. I believe that such revelations are unnecessary today because God has promised that the Scriptures are “adequate [to] equip [us] for every good work” (2 Tim 3:17). Read more about Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense, Part 1

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Book Review - Growing Up God’s Way for Boys and Girls

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Image of Growing Up God's Way for Boys
by Dr. Chris Richards, Dr. Liz Jones
Evangelical Press 2014
Paperback 80

Human sexuality is a good gift from God but from the way many Christians talk about it (if they even talk about it at all) you might think it was a disease spread upon all mankind from Satan himself. Not just one generation back from mine, sex was considered to be a non-discussion topic unless you were telling kids not to have it before marriage. Now my generation is raising its own generation of kids. Truth be told, our kids will hear about sex and sexuality from somewhere. The question is, who will they hear it from the loudest and most cogently? The world will tell them about it and so must Christian parents.

There is a growing body of literature (that needs to keep growing!) for Christian parents seeking to aid them in their discussions (discussions plural because there needs to be more than one of them!) with their children about their sexuality. Recently, Christian pediatricians Chris Richards and Liz Jones have written an amazing pair of new books titled Growing God’s Way for Boys and Growing God’s Way for Girls. Designed for ages 10-14, this book was written to help parents discuss their kids sexuality with them from before puberty to marriage, from a Christian and medical perspective. Read more about Book Review - Growing Up God’s Way for Boys and Girls

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