“God helps those who help themselves.” “You can be a Christian and live any way you want.” “The Holy Spirit to me is like the genie from Aladdin, and He’s blue, and He’s funny – and He’s sneaky.” “God is only One Individual Who shows Himself in three different ways – as the Father in the Old Testament, the Son in the New Testament, and today, in the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
Look at each of those statements. The one regarding the Holy Spirit being like a genie is an actual quote from a leader in a church that I came across. How bizarre that someone would even let those words come out of their mouth. The other statements are both ideas and beliefs that some people hold regarding the Christian faith.
We live in a time when it seems that the Church is in need of a dose of discernment. I appreciate the many Christians at Oakridge who carefully analyze what someone teaches, comparing what is said with the Inerrant Word of God.
In Acts 17:11 Paul commended the Bereans who listened to what Paul said and compared it to the Scriptures that they had available. Just because the apostle said it, they wanted to make sure it lined up with God’s Word.
In fact, in this verse in Acts 17, the word for “examined” in the English Standard Version is a great word. It means to “investigate, analyze, sift, scrutinize.” We see that the word has the idea of us being discerning. Just as the Bereans did with Paul, we are to do the same. Just because someone says something, such as the statements noted at the beginning of this blog, does not mean they are true or accurate.
Hebrews 5:14 tells us that a mark of a maturing Christian is that they have learned to “distinguish” good from evil. We must be discerning regarding how we live, and I also believe, what we accept as Biblical truth. What we believe dictates what we do. The Bible is the only doctrinal manual for guiding us in these areas.
This is the reason that Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:15 that we are to be students of the Word of God, diving into the Scriptures with an attitude to not only learn, but apply what it says to our lives. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us God’s inspired Word equips us for life.
We all know that just because someone is on Christian radio, television, or has written a book, does not mean that their theology lines up with God’s Word. There is a lot of strange stuff being taught in the “name” of the Lord, and sadly, if we are not careful, it could be easy to get sidetracked by what some people are teaching if we are not constantly discerning and keeping our nose in the Word of God.
We may have varying opinions on some things such as when Jesus will return (before, during, or at the end of the tribulation) but we all agree He will return. What we are talking about when it comes to discerning is guarding against statements and teachings that are contrary to what the Scripture teaches.
Some stuff being said is so obviously “out there” that we pick it up immediately. Other things are subtle and articulated so well that we have to spend more time listening closely to what is being said or written.
Thus knowing what the church has historically taught as key elements of Christianity, and more important, knowing God’s Word, helps to keep ourselves untainted by false teaching and wrong living. God bless and keep moving forward in knowing God and His inspired Scriptures.