This morning, someone handed me an excerpt from the book, “The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment”, by Tim Challies.
I pray daily (sometimes moment-to-moment) for discernment because I am all too aware of the fact that there is nothing discerning within me – my feelings, thoughts or actions – apart from God. I am desperately, desperately in need of His wisdom and discernment if I am to make wise decisions which in the end glorify Him. In all honesty, I needed discernment to simply begin today’s post because of its sensitive nature. The following quotes taken from this book are not about pointing fingers, because that would, in fact, require me to first point the finger in my own direction… but it is about my sharing what I believe to be true.
- The Bible makes it clear: God expects and demands that we pursue and exhibit spiritual discernment.
- “… it has never been easy to be discerning. Discernment is a skill that must be sharpened with long years of practice. Hebrews 5:14 tells us that discernment comes to those who “by constant practice [work] to distinguish good from evil.” While it is a discipline that requires practice, discernment is a skill that does not tend to make us popular, for, as we will soon see, it requires us to make clear and unwavering distinctions between what is good and what is evil. [Mt. 10:34-37] With discernment comes division. A person who seeks to be discerning must be willing to suffer the effects of this division. It will divide not only believer from unbeliever, but it may even divide a discerning believer from one who is undiscerning.”
- In the last book he completed before his death in 2000, James Montgomery Boice, considered by many to be among the greatest preachers of the twentieth century, wrote about the five solas of the Reformation – the doctrines through which Protestantism was defined. The first of these, sola scriptura, or Scripture alone, is foundational to all of Christian theology. Sola scriptura declares that the Bible is the one and only perfect measure God has given to us as our guide in matters of life and faith.
- Boice had this to say: “Inerrancy is not the most critical issue facing the church today. The most serious issue, I believe, is the Bible’s sufficiency.”
- Charges of bibliolatry, or Bible worship, are thrown about with reckless abandon. And yet the Bible demands that we allow it to be sufficient to address all areas of life and practice, whether evangelism, sanctification, guidance, social reform, or discernment. Almost every evangelical church would somehow include in its statement of faith that they believe in sola scriptura, the doctrine stating that the Bible is our only perfect standard of right and wrong. Most of these churches do believe in such crucial doctrines as the Bible’s authority, inspiration and inerrancy. However, few would believe and put into practice the doctrine of the Bible’s sufficiency.
- When we have rejected the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture, we allow Christians to depend on things other than the Bible as their guide to matters of life and faith. In particular, people begin to depend upon mysticism, upon ways of supposedly knowing God apart from the Bible. They forsake biblical reason in favor of feelings, voices, visions, or other subjective means of supposedly knowing God. This is a deadly error, for spiritual discernment must be founded upon God’s objective revelation of himself in Scripture. We can only judge between what is wrong and what is right when we know what God says to be true. We can know this only from Scripture.
I look forward to reading this book in its entirety very soon. I have much to learn.