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Be Discerning:: 2


Keeping in Stride

Today we face different challenges than John’s first century audience, but there are challenges nonetheless. God has given us three tools to help us be discerning regarding the messages we hear.

The first tool God has given us is the Bible. One thing the New Testament Church lacked that we have readily available is Scripture. What we hear and read must be measured against that standard. Do you remember Harold Camping? He was the radio evangelist who predicted Christ would return on May 21, 2011. As the day passed, Camping commented that he had miscalculated the date and that Christ would return in October. That day passed as well. During the days leading up to May and again in October, I received a ton of mail encouraging me to lead our church into preparedness for the second advent. As I considered this prediction, I recalled that Jesus said that no person would know the hour of Christ’s appearing (Matthew 24:36). When we hear something or read something, our first response should be, “What does the Bible say about that?

The second tool that we have to discern truth from error is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus Christ and serves us in two ways. The Spirit convicts us of sin and convinces us of righteousness. When we stray, the Spirit calls us to return. When we hear truth, the Spirit confirms and affirms what we hear. Truth resonates in our hearts because the of the Spirit’s confirming voice.

The final tool we have is each another. The verbs in the text (1 John 4:1-6) are all plural, indicating that we are not to undertake our struggles and questions singularly. Throughout church history, the people of God have gathered to clarify their understanding and weed out theological error. The creeds and confessions we have today are largely the result of such gatherings that have determined to distinguish fact from fiction.

We hear a lot of different messages today, but the Scriptures, the Spirit, and the Body of Christ help us to discern truth from error.

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