Don’t Be Deceived – Part Six

This post is the “sixth” and the concluding post, in a series of posts, that addresses the absolute Biblical requirement for Christians to exercise Biblical discernment.

Throughout this series I have endeavoured to validate the Biblical necessity to exercise Biblical discernment, which as I have indicated is something that all of us, as Christians, are called on to do. Defending our Christian faith is not a spectator sport. But in order to properly “defend” our Christian faith, we do need to know ourselves, that which we are defending. Many people have opinions, but far less can back them up with Biblical reasoning, by using the “yardstick” of confirming Scriptures, as found in God’s Holy Word.

Acts 17:11 NASB comes to mind: “Now these people were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Emphasis is mine.

This last post deals with what happens when you do exercise Biblical discernment.

Exercising Biblical discernment is going to produce disagreement and quite frankly, the disagreement it causes is not enjoyable. Not only is it not enjoyable because of the dissension it oftentimes causes, but it has the tendency to tax our most vulnerable humanistic characteristics, which can so easily switch from voicing the biblical reasoning behind our convictions, to attacking the character of the individual who may oppose us. We’ve all seen it, and it’s not pretty. I earnestly try to avoid attacking the character of the individual I am conversing with and to be honest with you, sometimes I am more successful than others, but I do earnestly try. If you don’t think that you have humanistic tendencies to defend yourself from unjustified accusations (from your perspective), try entering into a “heated” discussion while at the same time, keeping the love and concern that you have for the opposing individual, at the forefront of your thoughts. 

The thing is, no one likes to have their reasoning questioned. Not me and not you. But sometimes it is necessary. The hard part is discerning when it is necessary and how to exercise our questioning in a manner that honours Christ. And as in most things, there are dangers involved where we either never question or we over question and become overly critical. Both of these extremes are, according to God’s Holy Word, not in accordance with God’s will. Jesus told us not to judge others for that which we are guilty of ourselves. That’s the “judge not lest you be judged” verse that so many love. What many also neglect is the verse at the bottom where Jesus says “then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye”. Some we ignore (usually of a minor personal shortfall) and some we don’t (doctrines and general guidance given for all in God’s Word).  And then we have John 7:24 where Jesus also said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” So the onus is not on not to judge, as in ever, but rather on what we judge, which includes taking our own shortcomings into account, and what, in particular, we are judging on, as it applies to truth revealed in God’s Word. An example is where we would have to render a judgement against anyone who says that all religions are the same and acceptable in God’s sight. That would obviously be contrary to “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 refers.

God corrects those that He loves and we ourselves are to accept righteous correction and also correct those that we love. Hebrews 12:6 and 2 Timothy 2:22-26 refers. Notice the qualifier that Paul identifies while giving correction: “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition“. Many of the people who are between the covers of our Bible corrected others. Jesus did (Matthew 22:29), Peter did (Acts 2:14-15) and so did Paul (Galatians 2:11-21) to name but three.

Yesterday, in the comments section of Don’t Be Deceived – Part Five Judy let me publicly know that she is a member of The Church of the Latter Days Saints. I don’t know Judy very well but everything that I do know of her, speaks very well of her. I have no animosity towards Judy at all, in fact, I have much empathy for her, considering what she has endured. And to her credit, there was absolutely nothing in her comments to me that indicated any kind of animosity towards me. I can tell you from experience, that is not common. And most importantly, she more than adequately voiced her faith and trust in Jesus. I am not sitting in judgement on her faith in Jesus (that is between her and God), but I do call into question the doctrines of the Church of the Latter Day Saints because they are indeed “contrary” to what the Word of God indicates.

I also want to tell you that there is a distinct different between exchanging opinions with someone while on the Internet and exchanging opinions face to face. These are real people we are dealing with and they have real feelings. Sometimes we forget that and we really shouldn’t. I feel for Judy, I really do. I hope that she takes my questioning for what it is, a call for her to verify the doctrines of her church, with what God’s Holy Word actually says. I did prayerfully and carefully pick two links that I thought might assist her in doing that, should she wish to do so, both of which are sourced from an individual and an organization that are very in tune with what she may experience in this quest. And of course, lifting her up in prayer asking God to do what I cannot do. 

Just so you know, there are a couple of comments that I have authorized to be published, from an old acquaintance of mine on the fifth post of this series from a gentleman by the name of Damon W. Brewster, which I shall let speak for themselves.

Will there be criticism for “defending our Christian faith“? You can count on it. Personal attacks, quite frequently. Being “faithful” involves responding to what God’s Word tells us to do. Titus 1:9 refers. I’m just a layperson, certainly not infallible and still learning as I go. 

My sincere wish and prayer is that this series has helped you in some small way determine what God may be calling you to do.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!

16 comments

  1. You have captured the heart of Jesus beautifully here, Bruce. Especially what you said concerning Judy. This is the way we should always approach those we disagree with. I had a very long discussion through email with a gentleman who writes the catechism for the Roman Catholic Church. We disagreed on many points, but still were able to lovingly Share our passion for the Lord Jesus Christ. Those are enjoyable discussions if done without animosity. Keep up the good work, my friend

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I agree with you that we need to pray for discernment to know whether we want to get into a debate over something. Some things aren’t important enough to be worth arguing about. (As a certain psychologist likes to say, “Is this the hill you want to die on?”) Some people won’t listen to reason and will just waste your time, or worse. Jesus did say not to throw our pearls before swine, who will trample them and then tear us to pieces , so there are definitely times to just walk away.

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    • Hi Annie, I agree about picking the hill you want to die on, because there is indeed a determination about whom you enter into a debate with. You’ll note that I did not respond to Damon’s accusations, but I did respond to Judy and took the time to clarify that it was the doctrines of the LDS church that I took exception to. I’m pretty sure that if the Apostle Paul made that distinction as clear as he did, that we would be obliged to do likewise. Somethings there are hills that you just can’t walk away from and people that you cannot ignore and in this particular case, this would be one of them, as it applies to Judy. As an example, Dallas Jenkins’ stance that the Jesus of the Mormons and the Jesus of orthodox Evangelical Christianity are basically the same, is not something that can be ignored, because if you do, there is no line in the sand, which is as you know, the increasingly apparent problem currently facing the bride of Christ because there is very little or in some cases, any, exercise of Biblical discernment. Not to mention, when I am advocating the need to exercise Biblical discernment, and use the example that Paul used about a contrary gospel, and then a member of that contrary gospel challenges the contradictions, as opinions and not doctrines, there is no option to walk away. Considering that the LDS Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, p. 188 (Page 117 of 691 – 3 Volume or page 117 of 219 Volume I) states that there is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, doesn’t leave a Christian who exercises Biblical discernment, much in the area of choice. If you don’t mind me asking, and you can obviously pass if you wish to Annie, would you have responded to Judy and if so, how?

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  3. Hi Bruce, this is an important topic. Equally important is Christian Unity. Paul tells us to “be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). I take that to mean that the Holy Spirit is the great giver of unity. “In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

    It is probably not an either we focus on deception or focus on unity but I would consider unity an important issue to focus on.

    Shalom!

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    • Hi Michael, I would agree that Christian unity is also important, but I don’t believe that seeking Christian unity is directed towards those who follow “another Gospel”. A little further in Ephesians 4:14 Paul clarifies that our “unity of the faith” has brought us to the place where we are a mature man and: “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” But I do thank you for taking the time to comment! Sincerely appreciated. Blessings!

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  4. This entire series is exceptional Bruce! Thank you for the time you put into this to offer guidance for others! This is a much needed topic of discussion!

    I am in agreement with you on the Mormon issue.

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