Judging and Discernment

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In the last three or four weeks I have had a small number of exchanges with other people that has led me to re-evaluate my approach with regard to the manner in which I articulate my exchanges with others on various topics where there may be disagreements in biblical interpretation or differences in methodology.

I should mention that in the vast majority of the very few confrontational conversations I have with others, I am deliberately non-accusatory to their person. In other words, I do not actively engage in addressing any perceived shortfalls that I have observed in their personal general witness to our Lord. And there are a couple of really good reasons for that. Number one is that, this is not the prime reason why I write this plog, e.g., to criticize others, my goal is to lift, not tear down, and number two, I am far from being perfect myself.

I endeavour to be polite and avoid personal accusations at all costs, focusing rather on the particular area of contention being discussed, rather than resorting to name calling or other forms of personal attack. We are ambassadors for Christ and our conduct towards others, even those with whom we disagree, should bring credit to our Lord and not dis-credit.

I should also state at the onset that I believe that it is NOT my responsibility to be judgemental with regards to those who do NOT share our Christian faith. I do believe that we are instructed to exercise discernment within the body of Christ but when it comes to those who are outside of the body of Christ, God alone exercises His own authority in those areas. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 ESV refers.

The question that many have, with regard to judging or not judging, continues to be a bone of contention with some within the body of Christ. This link provides what I think, is a well balanced overview on this particular subject and I would strongly encourage you to take the time to go through it, if you have the time.

In some of the discussions I have had with others during the last three of four weeks, some have identified me as being judgemental, a nitpicker, a legalist, and other associated non-complementary word descriptions. Throughout these exchanges there has been a general theme or prevalent thought being voiced by those who take exception to observations or differences of opinion that I have expressed.

The general theme or paraphrased prevalent thought I have encountered is as follows: “it is not our responsibility to identify or criticize others within the Christian community when it comes to areas of the transgression of God’s laws (sin) or His will for them.” This is also sometimes accompanied by inferring that “the simplicity of the Gospel and Jesus Christ is all that is required and going beyond that is not only not necessary but also usually leads to religious hypocrisy“. I’ve also heard it said that “if we can lead people to Jesus, and they come to truly know Him, Jesus will take care of the rest“.

If I could find any of the aforementioned detailed in the New Testament I could agree with those statements, but unfortunately I cannot. In fact, I find the exact opposite.

I could provide a good number of the scripture verses that admonish us to judge within the Church and to exercise discernment but these two links will suffice:

Link 1 and Link 2

CONCLUSION

I think it is important to acknowledge that I am acutely aware that all of the theology, doctrines, or schools of thought that I may lean towards or believe, may in fact, not be correct. That’s where discussion comes in and the acceptance of others, even though we may have differing understanding on topics such as creationism, predestination, free will and the end times etc. But that acceptance does not include corrupted doctrines that argue against the basic tenets of Christianity or the avoidance of our responsibilities with regard to Church discipline as clearly advocated within the New Testament.

Do I earnestly endeavour to proceed with extreme caution, adhering to all of the guidelines that the New Testament provides, including that the motivation for all that I do or say is rooted in love? I try. I try real hard and sometimes I am more successful that others. I have apologized when I have erred and I have erred. That’s how we learn and I was fortunate enough to be forgiven by a Christian who was more mature than myself. Mercy begets mercy, compassion begets compassion and leniency begets leniency. I get it. If I have received it, I must also give it.

Being critical or making sound judgements based on biblical principles is not a fun activity because you know that you are basically setting yourself up for opposition when you go against the flow. It’s not an enjoyable activity. That’s why I try to do my homework, do the research that is required, question myself before I question others, examine myself so that I don’t pronounce a judgment on myself when I raise an objection or question someone else.

And there can appear to be conflicting directions. Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Matt 7:1,2). Likewise in Luke (6:37) – “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” But now read what Paul says, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things.” (1Cor 2:15). And then we have 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 as noted above.

So when I do question, it is a considered question, when I do object, it’s because what someone is saying does not agree with the whole of scripture and so I ask them to defend their position. Most times they don’t directly respond to the noted inconsistency, they just start with the negative general accusations and name calling. There is no real discussion because there is no real defence. It happens. But sometimes you just have to do what you just have to do. Fortunately that “sometimes” isn’t all that often. But it happens too.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About

Disciple of Jesus, married to Peggy, with 5 grown up children, 7 grand children, ex-Canadian Armed Forces and residing in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. a.k.a. "Papa"

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Posted in Apologetics, Discernment, Faith, Witnessing
21 comments on “Judging and Discernment
  1. M. Dennis says:

    Having recently taught lessons from the letters of Peter and Jude, I have a particularly recent appreciation for their emphasis on keeping the teachings of the church correct, and free from the infection of false teachers. The truths that Jesus taught – both directly and through inspiration of His disciples – must remain untainted, or else the church rots from the inside.

    It can indeed be unpopular and difficult to hold a fellow brother or sister accountable. (That’s probably why we don’t do a better job of it.) However, God didn’t call just certain followers to preserve the truth; instead, He seems to call each member of the church to do so. I appreciate both your willingness to step up, and your humility in acknowledging that you don’t always get it right. All of us can relate to the latter point, and I think that the challenge is whether or not the rest of us are willing to join you in the former: standing up for the truth when necessary.

    While teaching from the book of Jude, I pulled out verses 20-23 for an upcoming article. As I read them, verses 20-21 tell us how to reinforce a body of believers to protect against the divisions created by false teachers, while verses 22-23 tell us how to carefully work to rescue those who have been caught up in the consequences of lies.

    Keep doing your best, speaking the truth in love, as the Holy Spirit directs you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for your comments, the verses in Jude you have quoted reinforce the need to take action and do it in such a manner as to demonstrate mercy with reconciliation in mind, which is indeed, not an easy task. Sincerely appreciate your encouragement. Blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Stephen says:

    “This is also sometimes accompanied by inferring that “the simplicity of the Gospel and Jesus Christ is all that is required and going beyond that is not only not necessary but also usually leads to religious hypocrisy“. I’ve also heard it said that “if we can lead people to Jesus, and they come to truly know Him, Jesus will take care of the rest“.

    If I could find any of the aforementioned detailed in the New Testament I could agree with those statements, but unfortunately I cannot. In fact, I find the exact opposite.”

    -25At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 27All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am [f]gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

    -25Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. 26And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 28Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30He must increase, but I must decrease.

    -1There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

    37And The Father who has sent me, he testifies of me. You have never heard his voice and you have not seen his appearance, 38And his word is not abiding in you, because you are not trusting in him whom he has sent.

    39Search the scriptures, for in them you hope that you have eternal life, and they testify concerning Me, 40And you are not willing to come to me that eternal life may be yours. 41I do not receive glory from the children of men. 42But I know you, that the love of God is not in you. 43I have come in The Name of my Father and you do not receive me, and if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him. 44How can you believe, who are accepting glory one from another, and you are not seeking the glory of The One God? 45Do you think that I am accusing you before The Father? There is one who accuses you: Moses, the one in whom you hope. 46For if you had trusted Moses, you would also trust me, for he wrote about Me. 47And if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

    -Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
    7Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

    With the exception of John the baptist, who’m apparently Jesus considered the greatest man born to women, and as being a follower of Jesus Christ and not Paul, I have shared a few scriptures with you Bruce that says Jesus IS Lord and does indeed take care of the rest.
    The bible is not the word of God and Paul is not the messiah, to which it is recorded he professed even in his boastings ” Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 9For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”

    Perhaps instead of contending for baptist religious belief’s, you might want to stay focussed on Jesus. Trying to make the exception the norm is to counter the Gospel, as the Gospel is indeed Jesus Christ Himself. No one is interested in your religion Bruce, but people are longing for Jesus Christ.

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    • Bruce says:

      Stephen, as you can see, I’ve approved your comments in entirety without editing them. You and I have had this discussion before and I am well aware of your perspective. We disagree on a number of vital points, # 1, I am not a Baptist nor have I ever been a Baptist but quite frankly, I see nothing wrong in being a Baptist believer in Jesus Christ. # 2, The Bible is indeed the Word of God and # 3, at no time did I or anyone else for that matter, ever indicate that Paul was the Messiah but to infer that Paul’s teachings are not considered Holy Scripture and as such, are not worthy of consideration for our spiritual growth is totally unfounded. Considering that all of the Apostles excluding Judas Iscariot preached and contended for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the believers devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42), your contention that their instructions and guidance as contained in their Epistles are not the Word of God, is in my opinion, indefensible. The following post of mine addressed your contentions previously about the Bible not being the Word of God: https://bcooper.wordpress.com/2019/08/25/how-can-jesus-and-the-bible-both-be-the-word-of-god-gotquestions-org/
      I’ve let you have your say Stephen, we disagree. Blessings to you and yours.

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  3. Great summary. Jesus was talking about hypocrisy. Take the log out my eye first. In many other places he calls us to avoid false teachers and prophets. He lays out the ground rules for dealing with others re sin:

    – Go to them in private first.
    – Take others next.
    – Go to the church last.

    Paul and the others lay it out the same.

    Blessings.

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    • Bruce says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Michael. I’m always amazed at how some of the things that Jesus said are ignored when a particular point is trying to be made. Blessings to you and yours my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bruce, you said, “I am not Baptist nor have I ever been a Baptist but quite frankly, I see nothing wrong with being a Baptist believer in Jesus Christ.”
    Please tell me where denominations and sects are okay? Taking a look at 1 Corin. 1: 10-13, I see otherwise. Do you? Is the Church not divided? How can we be perfectly united?

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    • Bruce says:

      Hi Damon, Are there divisions, yes there are but for me personally, those divisions are secondary to one’s faith and trust in Jesus. Denominations are one thing, sects are another. I understand where you are going with this and I guess where I draw the line is where a major orthodox Christian doctrine is violated such as the divinity of Jesus, etc is involved or I see the Gospel of Jesus Christ being watered down so as not to offend anyone. Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace but to bring division. Do you deny that we are instructed to discern and use Church discipline to fight against false teachers and doctrines? Considering that the Apostles encountered those who distorted the Gospel and fought against them, from within the early Christian Church, I am not surprised that this continues on to this very day. Would you suggest that Protestants should side with Roman Catholicism and it’s associated doctrines for the sake of unity? Satan is still a power to be dealt with in this world and he will use every option available to him to get us to deny who Jesus is. As long as he has power in this world there will continue to be division. But his time is running out. Yes unity is important but it needs to be balanced with limits to accommodation, or in the end there will be nothing left to accommodate because what we are unified in will mean nothing. Curious what you think the wide gate and broad way is in Matt 7:13-15 ASV?

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      • I don’t do the apologetics, Bruce. You will probably have an argument for anything I say. Denominations and / or sects are not good, at all. You can research and believe what you like, but they aren’t in any way supported in the Bible. Protestants and the Roman Catholic church are one in the same — not supported, according to my Bible.

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      • Bruce says:

        Damon, please note that it was you who initially asked me questions pertaining to this particular post. So how exactly does this exchange between you and I work Damon? You get to ask me questions which I assume that I am expected to respond to but when I answer your questions and then ask you questions in return you say you don’t do apologetics? The Protestant Reformation and the Roman Catholic church are one in the same, not supported in your Bible? I’d be really curious to know exactly what is supported in your Bible? Maybe we should just let this one slide for now as I can see that there’s no real exchange of Biblical reasoning taking place between the two of us, which has a tendency to make the discussion more of a statement of opinion, without any verifying substantiation, which serves no useful purpose. I’m assuming that neither one of us wants to get into a Bible verse exchange so I will back off. I do want to say that I am saddened by this exchange. Blessings to you and yours Damon.

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      • You made the statement about the Baptist denomination, and it struck me as interesting, since you are so passionate about being accurate in your apologetics. So, I asked a question, which you didn’t provide an answer to. I’m not here to answer your question, just curious to know where denominations, the Roman Catholic church or protestantism is supported? Just do a post to respond or something.
        We can let it all slide. I really don’t want to bring you more grief.

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      • Bruce says:

        Hi Damon, I thought I had answered your question with regard to the divisions (Protestantism, Roman Catholicism etc) when I indicated that I draw the line when there is a significant deviation from one of the major doctrines of Christianity. As an example I cannot agree with the doctrines of the Roman Catholic church that are associated with Mary. Does that mean that all Roman Catholics are not Christian? I can’t answer that, only God can. I just can’t agree with the doctrines they hold about Mary as an example. Consequently I am not a Roman Catholic. Same thing goes with regard to some Protestant churches accepting the Christian sanctioning of same sex marriages. I disagree with the decision they have made. Does that mean that all believers in those Protestant churches are not Christians, I don’t know, that would be God’s decision because only He knows their hearts but I personally could not join in fellowship with those who accept the sanctioning of same sex marriages because I think it is a significant deviation from what God’s Word teaches. At the same time I have Christian friends who adhere to Young Earth Creationism and various levels of Calvinism, which I do not personally lean towards but I still consider them Christian brothers and sisters because they can and do make a case for their beliefs from the scriptures. I just don’t happen to agree with the case they make. I can also make a case for Old Age Creationism or Arminianism. I call these gray areas, topics where there is a distinct possibility that I may be wrong or they may be wrong. Maintaining a balanced perspective is difficult because there can be underlying ramifications that need to be looked at such as the reality of free will in Calvinism or accountability for original sin via Adam and Eve in Young Earth Creationism. God and I are both aware of my limited mental and spiritual capabilities and all I can do is honestly try to evaluate the arguments in line with what God’s Word says and make a prayerful decision from there. No it’s not perfect but it is the best that I can do and I think God respects that. Ultimately my trust is in Him, who He is, what He has done for me and who I am in Him. I’m pretty sure that most of us will be in for a few surprises when we get to the other side. But in the interim, I need to study God’s Word, remain in communion with Him and seek the guidance and wisdom of God’s Holy Spirit in all things, not just ignore or disregard those things that I don’t wish to look at. When Jesus talks about Him not coming to bring peace but rather to bring division, I need to understand the context of that division that He speaks of. When Jesus says that there is a narrow gate and a narrow path versus a broad gate and a broad path, I need to understand the difference between the two so I can focus on entering via the narrow gate.
        I think both you and I are on the same journey, we just see it from different perspectives and in all probability, both of our perspectives will be subject to change, prior to us seeing Him face to face. I am acutely aware of how imperfect my logic or thinking can be. For me, the balanced perspective is very important because it includes my honesty in walking with God. There are a lot of things that I do not understand, but those things which I am able to look at and evaluate in concert with all of what Jesus said, from my perspective, need to be looked at and consolidated within the framework of all that Jesus told us, not just some of what He told us. I’m pretty sure Jesus never said anything without there being a reason for it. So I look for that reason.
        I’m not trying to shoot you down Damon, I do see “some” of your struggle and I do recognize and appreciate your faith. Different perspectives don’t necessarily always mean different objectives. If I have offended you I am sorry, honestly, that was never my intention. You are my brother in Christ.
        Blessings. – Bruce

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      • I understand, Brother. Peace to you, and blessings upon your day 🙏

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      • Bruce says:

        Likewise Damon!

        Like

  5. Stephen says:

    Today Bruce, I thank you for your selfless, sacrificial service to this great country.
    Never again, may God grant peace between earthly nations and may dignity rule our interactions.
    Thank you Bruce and all those who are serving or have served their country.

    Like

  6. SLIMJIM says:

    What an example of grace and truth; I can “feel” your passion and compassion

    Like

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