(A few friends and I are reading this book together. Each week we are reading one chapter. On Fridays, I am posting my comments, then giving them the opportunity to add their thoughts as well. If you would like to join us or simply find out more about the book, you can read about it here.)
Chapter 5: Truth and Discernment
- The author said, "In this chapter we will examine the existence of truth and show that discernment can only exist where truth is affirmed." (Page 92) I thought it was a good summary. Here are my thoughts:
- He pointed out that for a counterfeit to exist there must be something real that exists. A few years back I heard a preacher point out that people will use hypocritical Christians as a reason they don't live for God. He noted that the presence of hypocrites means that there is the real thing. This has stuck with me and helped me.
- I had not thought much about the relationship between absolute truth and discernment. He pointed out that the practice of discernment is founded on the notion that there is absolute truth and that there is error. Before a person can discern, he must acknowledge that those two exist. To me, it seems that many people cannot bring themselves to say that something is wrong because they do not believe there is a standard- there is absolute truth. Thanks to the author, I now see that relationship.
- I think his "while God is truth, truth does not equal God" (Page 94) is important for our day. I'm sure other words could be substituted, but I think many need to see the word "love" in this equation. People put too much of an emphasis on "love," then equate love with God, and in the end I think they distort the character of God, because it is based on their derived view of Him based on their understanding of love.
- As preachers, we must echo his bold proclamation that "we know the Bible is true because it is the revelation of God, who is true and who is unable to lie." (Page 95) I appreciate his confidence in the Word of God!
- He mentioned the book The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. It is a powerful book- one that I plan to read once a year for the rest of my days. If you have not read it, I would encourage you to do so! (It is only $2.99 on Amazon. If you want, that can be my Christmas present to you!)
- I think he mentioned it in earlier chapters, but he brought out the fact that the first area in which we need to exercise discernment is our thoughts of God. We cannot conduct our lives properly if we do not believe properly.
- He equated worldliness (worldly thinking) as the direct opposite of correct thinking about God. I had not thought of them in that way before, but I think it is accurate. He showed that thinking rightly about God will lead us to Jesus Christ and thinking wrongly about God will always lead us to ourselves. I would say it leads us to ourselves or to the words of another man- still, we are either looking to God's Word or man's.
- We probably all have heard the statement that we best know what is wrong by first knowing what is right. He later said, "The relationship of truth to error is such that we can best know error by knowing truth. The opposite is not true." (Page 101) Again, he is right on- studying error may turn up some truth here and there, but it will not establish what is truth and what is error. However, studying truth will establish what it is, and, by extension, what error is.
- The better we know the truth, the more easily we will recognize error.
- "Error may be subtle, but it is always deadly." (Page 103) I know that in my mind, I see some errors as dangerous and others as not so bad. This sentence helped me remember that all is, as he said, deadly!
- The Hensel twins are easy to find on the internet if you are interested in reading more.
- He said that areas are gray because of the Fall. I am reminded of what my brother-in-law Paul J. says (probably not original with him, but I'll give him the credit for it), "Sin always complicates things." When a person follows God's design, it is easier to make a decision in a situation. The more entrapped in sin one becomes, the more difficult it is to see how to extricate from those situations.
- I think he is correct in saying that we often start from the obscure and work back to what is clear instead of the other way around. However, after a little bit of thinking, I could not think of a good example when we do this. Can you guys?
- I appreciated his emphasis on the conscience while showing its subservience to and dependence on Scripture.
- Again in this chapter, he mentioned that discernment is making "binary distinctions." I don't know much about computers, but I know they are based on the processing of a series of 1s and 0s. He is pointing out that discernment is seeing there are two options- one is right and one is wrong. He very much narrows things down, but I very much appreciate it.
- Congratulations! We are halfway through the book!!
- Sorry about the limit for comments that messed a couple of you up last week. I'll see if I can change that.
I've had my say, what say you?