All believers are called to practice discernment. Here are some things to be conscious of as you and I grow in this discipline.
Who Is Called To Practice Discernment?
Believers are called to hold to the sufficiency of Scripture.
“The Bereans listened to the Apostle Paul speak and only received Paul’s message in as far as it was consistent with the word of God – that is what we are supposed to be doing as believers.”
Topics & Timestamps
0:24 – Whose mandate is it to practice discernment?
0:40 – The call is for all believers
0:58 – Things to be aware of as we practice discernment
1:04 – As believers, know the basics of Christian teaching and doctrine
1:28 – Be believers who are growing in spiritual maturity
2:02 – Believers must learn how to test what they hear
3:00 – The Berean believers
4:24 – Scripture teaches the importance of testing what we hear
4:53 – Believers are called to hold on to the sufficiency of Scripture
5:08 – Question on prophets
6:21 – Believers have a responsibility to refute and expose false teachers
Top Quotes: Who Is Called To Practice Discernment?
“As you grow in your discipleship you automatically grow in your discernment. ”
“Believers are called to hold to the sufficiency of Scripture.”
“Believers in practicing biblical discernment have a responsibility to refute and expose the false teachers.”
Other Content On This Topic
Greetings from the Africa Center For Apologetics Research. My name is Rodgers Atwebembeire. We’ve been talking about the importance and the priority of biblical discernment for all believers and one may say, “Well, thank you Rodgers for that wonderful exposition. We really need biblical discernment. The question however remains, who should practice discernment? Is this the mandate and responsibility of pastors and Christian leaders? Or, is this the one, one for all who claim to believe in Christ Jesus as their Savior and Lord?”
Who is called to practice discernment?
And I out rightly would like to say that the call to biblical discernment is one for all believers. As long as you have confessed Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, whether lay person or leader, you are called to practice discernment.
Things to be aware of as you grow in your practice of discernment.
Not only is it important to practice it, but there are a number of things we need to be aware of as we grow in our practice of discernment.
1) Being for instance that as believers we must know the basics of Christian teaching and doctrine. Do you know what you believe? Do you know why you believe what you believe? Because if you are not sure about your own personal beliefs and convictions, how can you tell that someone else’s beliefs and convictions are wrong or are not biblical?
2) We must be believers who are growing in spiritual maturity. As you grow in your discipleship you automatically grow in your discernment. The more you know what is true, the more you are likely to identify what is not true. And that is why Hebrews 5:12 -14 calls all points to the mature people as those who have been trained on the truth of the gospel enough that they are able to discern right from wrong, truth from error.
3) But as believers also who are called to practice biblical discernment we must learn how to test. In several bible passages believers are challenged to exercise their discernment by testing what they hear. In 1 Thessalonians 5:21- 22 the Apostle Paul calls the Thessalonian believers to test everything, to hold first to what is good and to abstain from every appearance of evil.
The Berean believers
In Acts 17:10-11 we are given an example of the Berean believers – they are described as those who were more noble than those at Thessalonica. And why? Because when they heard the teaching of the Apostle Paul, they diligently received the word of God on the one hand, on the other hand they diligently searched the Scriptures to be sure that what the Apostle Paul taught was in line with the biblical teaching. You may notice that these Berean believers were searching the Old Testament because the New Testament had not yet been put together at this time. So they listened to the Apostle Paul speak, they don’t believe him because he’s an Apostle or he’s performing miracles, they search the Old Testament scriptures to see whether what he is teaching is consistent with what God has already declared. And they only receive Paul’s message in as far as it is consistent with the Word of God. That is what we are supposed to be doing as believers; test the prophecies, test the messages, those visions and the dreams that we hear about, bring them to the searchlight of Scripture and see if they really line up with what God has already said.
Scripture teaches the importance of testing what we hear
In 1 John 4:1-6, the apostle John draws attention to the false prophets of the world and he says, “Brothers, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits because many false prophets have come into the world.” Why does he say we should test the spirits when it is the false prophets who have come? What John is saying is that behind every prophet is a spirit. Either a prophet is speaking by the Holy Spirit of God and therefore we should receive his message as true or he is speaking by another spirit and therefore we should shun him as a false prophet. But either way, the call to testing, the need to identify and be able to expose the error is very clear in the teachings of Scripture. You go to the Old Testament- Deuteronomy 13, Deuteronomy 18, Moses gives ways in which the Old Testament believers can test who is a false prophet from who is a true one. Very clearly that the Bible teaches the importance of testing what we hear.
4) Believers are called to hold to the sufficiency of Scripture. To realize that in the Bible, in the word of God, God has given us everything we need for faith and for practice. Many times people ask me, “Do we have prophets today?” And my answer is always simple, “Yes we have them, the false ones.” And they wonder, “Why do you say we have the false ones? You mean we can’t have the true ones?” And this is my response, “If a person is to be a true prophet, he must be consistent with what the Bible has already taught. So if a prophet says what the Bible has already said then he’s not a prophet because what he’s saying is already in Scripture. We can call him a preacher, or a teacher, or an evangelist but certainly he’s not a prophet because the Bible has already told us what he’s saying. And if such a person prophesies something that is not in the Bible then he’s a false prophet because God cannot contradict what he has already said in his word.” So, if he speaks truth the Bible has already said it. If he speaks falsehood it is clear that he is a false prophet. So either way we do not need the prophets today and if prophets are there, then they are the false ones. Because everything we need to know pertaining to our salvation both in belief and behavior has already been given to us as we find in the pages of Scripture.
5) Believers in practicing biblical discernment have a responsibility to refute and expose the false teachers. In Ephesians 5:11 the Apostle Paul calls believers to expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness. In Titus 1:9 he calls believers especially Christian leaders to refute those who contradict faithful biblical teaching. That in our practice of discernment we are not just expositing the truth but we are also exposing error. We show what is not biblical, what is not right and then we point people to the teaching of Scripture that God has revealed to us as the basis for our doctrine, as the basis for our Christian practice and lifestyle.
Believers called to practice biblical discernment must know what is true, must understand the basic teachings of the Christian faith, must be growing in their Christian discipleship or maturity, must be able to hold to the sufficiency of Scripture in which we find everything we need for all of life, must be willing and courageous enough to identify, understand false teaching and expose it. That’s what practicing biblical discernment is really about. Believers discipled in truth, discerning error, defending the truth in the face of deception.