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Guarding the Gospel with Discernment

What is the greatest attack on the church today? That was the weighty question asked of the speakers at a recent conference. I promptly responded, “The greatest attack we are seeing today is on the exclusivity and purity of the Gospel.” The exclusivity of the Gospel declares all other faiths are false because no one can come to God except through the atoning death of Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). The exclusivity of the Gospel also humbles the pride of self-righteous people and calls them to repentance.

This is why many pastors are compromising the Gospel. They want to make it more inclusive in order to draw a larger following, gain more influence and be loved by more people. This man-pleasing gospel makes people comfortable in their sin but it has no power to save them. It has become popular because it exalts man and his importance and diminishes God and His significance. It also emphasizes God’s love while ignoring His holiness, justice and hatred of sin.

Tragically those who embrace this diluted gospel are woefully deceived and remain dead in their sins. Equally tragic is the willingness of born-again Christians to put up with another gospel. Paul exhorts them to repent of such apathy with a sharp rebuke: “If someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough” (2 Cor. 11:4). The only thing worse than a Christian without discernment is one who has discernment but refuses to use it to challenge professing Christians in their unfruitful lives. Those who have been deceived will not know it unless they are lovingly confronted with the truth. They must be reproved in order to become sound in the faith (Titus 1:13).

Many Christians are unaware of their responsibility to judge and test all things. Paul commended the Bereans for rightfully judging his teaching. “They received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:10-11). The apostle John exhorted Christians to make judgments concerning doctrinal and spiritual issues: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). Clearly, all Christians are called to judge righteously by using the Word of God as the plumb line for discerning truth from error. And judge we must because the Father of Lies deals in half-truths, and his fatal lies are often coated with a thin veneer of truth to deceive the unsuspecting.

Spiritual discernment is a discipline and a privilege that only born-again Christians can exercise. Paul wrote: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things.” (1 Cor. 2:14-16). The ability to make judgments is a mark of Christian maturity. “Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews. 5:14). By practicing discernment we are able to guard and protect the Gospel for the next generation.

As we practice discernment we must make sure our motives are Christ-honoring. Our objective must be to obey God’s word for the purpose of helping, healing, correcting, warning and sharing in the spirit of love. When our motives are pure, people will be encouraged to love the truth and hate what is false (Psalm 119:104). Pure motives will result in contending for the purity of the Gospel and the sanctity of our Lord’s Church!

There is no more critical issue in the Church today than guarding the purity of the Gospel. It is the rudder that must guide the Church through stormy waters that have been stirred up by every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14). Churches that do not provide a steady diet of God’s Word, will become entertainment centers for goats instead of sanctuaries for the Shepherd’s sheep (Mat. 25:32).

When doctrinal truth is being withheld, ignored, denied, or rejected, it will produce fertile ground for deception. The only way people will know if they have true faith or a false hope is to discern the true Gospel from a false gospel. It is the responsibility of every born again Christian to make disciples and challenge false converts to examine their faith. If anyone would like to know more about practicing discernment we have a message on DVD that will encourage you.

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