Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Discerner's Mirror


A commentor questioned my reference to emotion when we identify and correct false teachers. Jesus wept over the people of Jerusalem as they slid into apostasy. Doctrinal evaluation must be more than a dry analysis. It must have a measure of pathos, including a broken heart over the matters in which we ourselves fall short. Just because I am not Rob Bell is not a matter of favor before God, and it is so very easy to cull out the most egregious heretics and overtly or subliminally claim some spiritual superiority. Who we are before God has little to do with how orthodox we are in our theology and everything to do with who we are when no one is looking.

Every believer in Christ should be a discerner of false teachings and doctrinal heresies. This is actually not a ministry per se, but it should be a part of a believers Biblical life. Now there are preachers and blogs etc. that claim to be a ministry of discernment or a watchman ministry, and although I cannot characterize them as “ministries”, I do recognize their value to the body of Christ in general.

But it is very difficult to maintain a balance if you become consumed with heresies and the false teachings of others. Very quickly you tend to lose any perspective concerning your own spiritual depth, and almost immediately you can move ever so subtly into self righteousness. In fact, if you are going to spend time in examining and discerning the teachings of others, you should be held to a higher standard of humility, personal devotion, and love. Your responsibility toward God and His church will not be measured primarily by how many heresies you expose, or how many false teachers you uncover, but you must be measured by your personal devotion to Christ and how appreciable that devotion becomes in your own life of discipleship.

Just being doctrinally orthodox is a pitiful standard of measurement as it pertains to being a follower of Jesus. One can impute an orthodox systematic theology into an iPad and lock it in forever, but although that makes the iPad doctrinally orthodox, it does not make it a faithful and broken follower of the Lord Jesus. It is almost effortless to allow the discernment of others, as well as doctrinal orthodoxy, to become the criteria for our own depth of devotion and discipleship. But it is not.

II Cor.10:12 - For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

Our standard is Christ. And although we are constrained to stand for truth and correct error, we are also called to be conformed to His image. That, my friends, is infinitely more difficult than pointing out errors in others. I do from time to time read articles and visit blogs which have some pertinent information about the growing doctrinal scandal in western evangelicalism, however I am often grieved by their tone and lack of any personal discernment. Everyone has struggles and everyone falls short. And without humility and brokenness we all are nothing more than caustic judges, regardless of how accurate our discernments are about others.

As was recently noted by one “admiring” commenter, I am “all over the map”. Guilty as charged. When I enter the realm of measuring truth, I often lose some of my grace. And when I put on the glasses of grace, I often am tempted to compromise. What am I saying? That being a disciple of Christ is not becoming entrenched in some doctrinal fortress and peeping over the trench to see what others are doing and saying. Pursuing Christ must be founded upon Scripture, but it is also a journey of the Spirit.

If there are not seasons of personal contrition and brokenness, then we have lost the ministry of the Holy Spirit. If we can offer dry eyed evaluations of false teachers and their slide into apostasy, then we have lost the heart of the Great Shepherd. And if our primary evidence of being a believing follower of the Lord Jesus Christ is a statement of faith and doctrinal orthodoxy, then we are frauds.

A man points to a piece of ground and says to his friend, “Look at my wonderful tree!”.

The man’s friend looks around and says, “Where?”

Right here,” says the man as he again points.

I do not see a tree there,” his friend admits.

You see, the man was pointing to a very well established root system underneath the soil. That was the tree of which he was so proud. However, those roots never broke through the soil and grew and produced branches, leaves, and even fruit. You see, the man knew the root system was there but others could not see any real evidence of that tree. And so it is with some believers.

They have a very well established doctrinal root system, but sadly, that root system does not seem to produce leaves and fruit that would both substantiate the reality of their root system, as well as attract others who have no tree at all. To produce fruit a root system is absolutely necessary, however a root system itself must produce a trunk and branches and leaves for any fruit to come forth. The root system itself is not fruit.

An orthodox theology is not fruit, it is foundational. It can and should produce fruit, but it is not fruit in and of itself. The fruit that God is looking forth is not bound by ink upon paper. It is more than words, it is alive with actions that are self sacrificing, filled with unconditional love, and reach out to a fallen world of darkness. One time Jesus came across a fig tree which had produced no figs. It had a root system and a trunk and probably had some branches. But it had no fruit. Jesus cursed it and it died.

That is some serious stuff. Let us continue to look into the mirror much more than we look into a telescope.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this thoughtful and insightful blog this morning. I am so thankful that He has given the church good gifts, and lasting, even in these last dark days. For many of us, we have not had a good root system while sitting under so much false teaching for many years- and the Lord is now establishing us in sound doctrine for the first time- and immediately we find ourselves in danger of the fruitless, self-righteousness of the flesh rising up just as we can finally discern error from Truth. I am overflowing with thankfulness unto Him this morning as I hold to His promise that He will carry on to completion the good work that He began. May the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified in all things!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this and all other profound messages from your heart. I was and do get weary and have in the last few years gone almost into a spiritual cave/fetal position, not wanting to fellowship with any christians, as it seems like they all have succumbed to a "we" versus "them" mentality. The "we" meaning we are true followers of Jesus because we believe all the teachings of the latest book authors out there who tell us we must believe that, for instance, we have to support Israel, support a man who supports Israel, or other nations, or support men/women who can usher in righteousness because "they" said so.

I too get concerned when reading christian sites and christian blogs who say such nasty things about political leaders. I see other leaders who are never accused for doing the very same actions. Bigotry, racism, all the vile fruit is rising and christians don't seem to notice it at all. We no longer have John the Baptists who declare the way to Jesus Christ. Those loudest voices, the "christian right" seem to be the influencing voices. Christians seem to be allowing Satan to deceive them, projecting their angers and passions onto others and we see it with our very own eyes on national news shows.

I pray that the slow rising tension and hatred is overcome by the Spirit working in true saints of the Most High God.

Rick Frueh said...

"We no longer have John the Baptists who declare the way to Jesus Christ."

And that is it. No longer is it about Jesus the Christ, now it is about issues, morality, and economic policies. We must remain followers of Him and let the scular world do what they deem is right.

Lafe said...

Sir: You can be very dried eyed when commenting upon false teachers and prophets who are plundering the Body of Christ.
I do not need to weep and wail for
the acts of false teachers. The apostles or the writers of N.T.
script did not weep and wail over
rip off artists but rather rebuked them and told others not to even associate with them.
This response is a narrow response to a narrowly presented question and not a comment upon one's fruit or lack thereof but one contending for the faith and marking those that cause division. No need for tears there. Do you weep and cry when the burglar is tearing out your windows or doors to get into your house? I doubt it.
Do you weep and fast and pray when
evil doers try to lead astray your children or grandchildren into
devious acts? I seriously doubt it.
No, you act quickly and promptly and sound the alarm and report this activity to others so that they may be on their guard.
Self righteousness and being fruitless in such regard? Not in the least!!

Rick Frueh said...

"Do you weep and cry when the burglar is tearing out your windows or doors to get into your house?"

Do you weep because you only have the power to print about it but not enough power to stop it? And why is that? It is because we refuse to see our own sin because we are so diligent about identifying the sin of others.

Yes, we are reduce to "sounding the alarm" without the powerful expressions of Christ which would attract those who are being deceived. The tears are more for our own petrified doctrinal othodoxy rather than for what is transpiring within evangelcalism.

To whom much is given much is required. The inroads are being made by the deceivers, while the orthodox are consumed with being the color commentators. We can wear the badge of orthodoxy with pride while the enemy comes in like a flood.

John Marsh said...

"No longer is it about Jesus the Christ, now it is about issues, morality, and economic policies. We must remain followers of Him and let the scular world do what they deem is right."
"The tears are more for our own petrified doctrinal othodoxy rather than for what is transpiring within evangelcalism."
Yes and Yes. Amen!
What a wonderful, restful, blessing we have when we concentrate on denying ourselves, picking up our cross, and following Jesus.

Anonymous said...

First of all its [All] about Jesus and not about us at all. It is having a personal relationship with Christ 24-7. "If you walk in the light as he is the light we will have fellowship one with another". Seems many so called Christians would rather be right about being an expert in interpretation of scripture, discernment near boastful and arrogant then humble. It took no more than 30 seconds listening to r.bell to know it is a waste of my-ie the Lords time from then on to listen to what?. Shudder to have your name mentioned unless the glory goes to our Lord Jesus Christ, Listen to the voice as you can only hear in total submision through repentence to Christ. Critical- If you do not hear his voice, do whats necessary as one of his sheep humbely to draw near, closly to the Good Sheperd. Most of all the Word of God is living and now this a basic if you want to call "Dummies to Know who God is" Im not degrading the Word but my God that I know is Far bigger now than even a couple of years ago. We are mere vessels for his work and God loves us so much. and we all have a plan-Life that Christ has already walked before you. And know this if you choose to to do what Christ asked of you "YOU WILL BE HATED" for even Jesus Said that for they hated him First.I will do whatever he asks at ALL cost. My own brother and sister were for years dismissing me as a Judgementel non loving person seeking to convince my mother. I said little but she figured it out. At end if you ARE in Christ its a no brainer to figure out who is not.