Discernment from the Inside Out

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The theme of this year’s Answers for Women conference is Discern: Engaging the Culture with Wisdom and Grace. As I explained in my earlier post on the conference, discernment is lacking in the church today. We have designed this conference to equip women to “speak the truth in love” and avoid being “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14–15).

I am very pleased that Erin Benziger, blogger on Do Not Be Surprised and radio host and writer on Equipping Eve, will be joining us to talk about the importance of discernment within the church. As I have talked with Erin and followed her ministries, I have been very impressed with her desire to biblically and lovingly confront error in the church. This is what Erin had to say about her presentation at this year’s conference:

We have all read the articles, followed the debates, and heard the sermons. Many Christians today rightly oppose the unbelief of atheism and other world systems and their active hatred against God. In doing so, many of these Christians also rightly call the unbelieving to repent and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. It is, after all, the commission of the church to proclaim repentance for forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name (Luke 24:47).

Unfortunately, while some Christians seek to “engage the culture” and reach out to those who are lost in these belief systems, they may, in an ironic twist of circumstances, actually end up emulating the world. It is sadly not uncommon for today’s professing church to use inappropriate means to engage unbelievers, all while claiming to reach people who are “far from God.”

A well-respected pastor once stated, “I expect the world to act like the world. What I don’t expect is the Church to act like the world.”* And yet, in many ways the visible church does look like the world:

  • We look like the world when we seek to entertain in our weekend services rather than exposit the Scriptures;
  • We look like the world when we elevate men and women simply because they possess fame and profess Christ with their lips, even though their lives do not exhibit fruit of salvation;
  • We look like the world when Christian leaders talk more about themselves than they do about the Lord and Savior they claim to serve; and
  • We look like the world and seek to accommodate the world when we compromise our teaching about the nature of salvation.

The reality is that the primary war against the message of truth is not being waged in the world, but within the visible church. Consider these points from Scripture that refute the behavior above:

[P]reach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:2–4)
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock . . . to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert . . . (Acts 20:28–31a)
For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. (John 6:37; cf. John 6:44, 65)

Christians must recognize and stand against the errors and dangers that have permeated the visible church, lest they fail to be adequately equipped to proclaim the truth of salvation to a lost and dying world. If the purity of the church has been compromised, then its testimony to the gospel has been tainted. This is why discernment must begin from the inside out.

Erin has a real heart for the church and its witness, and I’m excited to hear her speak. It is not an easy task to begin discernment on the inside, but we must do this as the world more and more impacts the church.

Register today to take advantage of the early bird price (ends February 1st) and remember the price includes a two-day Creation Museum admission for attendee, husband, and children. We’ve also added a poster, bulletin insert, and video promo on the event website that can be downloaded to advertise the conference at your church.

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!

* John MacArthur, “Strange Fire Q&A, Part 1,” Grace to You, June 30, 2013, http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/70-34.

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