Summary: Four ingredients on the discernment of truth.
A. The obvious fact is that people disagree.
B. Teachings ranging from minor doctrinal error to downright apostate; from the harmless mistake to the doctrine of devils.
C. Yet, every Christian wants (or should want!) to be able to separate fact from fiction.
HOW TO DISCERN TRUTH.
A. Be noble. – Acts 17:11 – "These were more noble than those inThessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."
B. Be teachable.
1. God’s people can be misled quite easily! No one has complete truth and is a liar if he says he does!
2. Ephisians 4:13-14 – "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;"
a. We are not in the unity of the faith. Among evangelical fundamentalist Bible believers (I am excluding liberal churches) there are Baptists, Fundamental Methodists, Charismatics, Pentacostals, The Evangelical Free Church, Evangelical Lutherans, Independent Bible Churches of America, and several denominations among these categories: Southern Baptist, Assemblyof God, Free Will Baptists, etc. Each preaching that faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is the only way toHeaven, yet each having its own interpretation regarding what the Bible says.
b. You do not know the fullness of Christ! -- I Corinthians 13:12 – "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
c. So it is important to be teachable! If not teachable, "Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured" (Proverbs 13:18).
d. If you were wrong, would you want to know about it?
C. Be led by the Spirit – John 16:13 – "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."
1. Jesus said that the Holy Ghost would guide believers into all truth. he did not say "some truth."
2. The problem is that we do not always listen. We try to read the Bible in the flesh with our own understanding and reasoning powers and we come up being mistaken about something. This is why God tells us "lean not unto thine own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). We need to pray more for God to reveal His Truth through scripture!
3. Also, understand that this is a process as well. You will not understand everything all at once. There are pastors who have studied for thirty years who will humbly admit that they do not know everything and have been proven wrong on some issues.
4. We need to listen to the Spirit of God speak to our hearts and minds and cease our striving to grasp His infinite knowledge with our finite mental powers. If all Christians would do this, we would disagree a lot less!
D. Take heed according to what you believe – I Timothy 4:16 – "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."
1. I would rather be right than popular, and I am not interested in winning arguments! I want to be right even if it means that I have to change what I believe.
2. You should include in your prayers a prayer to learn and teach correct doctrine. You should pray that you know God’s Truth and not that which you perceive as truth, that if you be wrong about anything, God change your heart and mind either directly through His Spirit or by sending a teacher to you who will teach you.
3. None of us are above being taught, and I assure you, based on John 16:13, that this is in accordance with God’s Will. And in this, we know that He will answer, because "if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him" (I John 5:14-15).
CONCLUSION. – John 8:31-32 – "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."
Dr. Dana R. Carpenter, Jr., Th.D.
Adjunct Professor, Freedom Bible College