The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 108

“Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil”[1 Thess. 5 21, 22].

Paul’s instructions to the Thessalonians carry the same import today. Christians are called to TEST EVERYTHING. Note that the apostle John also tells us to TEST THE SPIRITS and not to believe everything we hear. (1Jn. 4:1-3). Both Paul and John used the word ‘test’ to mean the use of discernment. We are not called to judge but to discern. God is the true judge, and each person will stand before him (not us) and give account for all they have done. Therefore we must be extremely careful in the way in which we test everything. What better way than to take the advice from the lips of the Master himself? In Matthew 7, Jesus makes the distinction between judging and discerning. Speaking about the first he gives a warning. Speaking about the second, he gives advice. His advice is that we are to examine the fruits or results of a person’s ministry.

We are to use our judgment, (i.e. distinguish between what is right and wrong, according to God’s standards) but not to judge (i.e. to condemn). There is a difference. Let me explain. It is vitally important that we “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). BUT this injunction has to do with the fundamentals of Scripture and the essential doctrines of the Christian faith, not with minor and controversial issues. There are non-negotiables (i.e. the basic beliefs of our faith) and there are non-essentials (that is, personal preferences). We are not to judge one another on issues of conscience, preference or personal opinion. (See Rom. 14:1-3). The overriding command is that we are to love other Christians who also love Jesus. To love them is a command, not an option! Watch out!

True discernment can only be exercised when we are guided by the love of God. Many people go around from church to church, comparing one ministry with another, one church with another. They have adopted their own Christian superstars, just like the Corinthians whom Paul rebuked (see 1 Cor. 3). To these people let me pass on from Derek Prince five key things they should look for in exercising discernment. (1) Repentance. Are people turning from sin? (2) Is God’s word respected and taught uncompromisingly? (3) Is Jesus always being lifted up and exalted? (4) Is there a growing love in the fellowship and for other believers? and, (5) Is there a continual concern for the unchurched? Having said that, keep in mind that even a church or ministry that passes all these tests still has imperfect people. God does not work with faultless people but with those surrendered to him!

            Devotional                                                                                                                            Preach The Word The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues