“500 years ago, Martin Luther posted the 95 theses and began the Reformation. Today, we know that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. What will historians say about our generation and how we handle the Scriptures?”
This week, we heard from Jeremy Chasteen from Crosspoint Church. He started with this question about how we handle the Scriptures, then shared a great message about how we can discern the difference between truth and error. Here’s a recap!
Scripture: 1 John 4:1-6
One of the greatest dangers is false prophets within the church. This passage gives two commands to guard ourselves against them.
- Don’t believe every spirit. There’s a spirit of truth and error behind everything we see and hear. Ask yourself: what am I exposing myself to and filling my mind with?
- Test the spirits to see if they’re from God. Test everything, because only God’s Word is inherent. However, while testing what we hear and discerning if it is from God, we should be careful of our intentions. We should test not out of pride, but with a desire for a positive outcome. Jeremy shared two dangers we face in this: we sometimes either believe everything and test nothing, or test everything and believe nothing.
This passage also gives us three practical tests to help us discern if something is from God or not, or if something has the spirit of truth or error.
Three things to hang onto:
1. The Jesus Test
Ask yourself: does this teaching match the biblical Jesus?
Jesus is the eternal son of God prophesied of in the Old Testament. He was fully God and fully man, sinless, the perfect advocate and high priest. He rose from the dead and conquered death. Only he could be the perfect atonement.
Jesus is the center of all theology. If the teaching you’re hearing does not match this picture of Jesus, then it is not truth. Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. According to the passage, anyone who denies him denies God, and not only that, anyone who denies or rejects him is an antichrist.
Jesus is all we need. Any sort of teaching that suggests we need Jesus plus a little something or Jesus minus a little something is absolutely appropriate to question.
2. The Holy Spirit Test
Ask yourself: Is there a check in your spirit about what you’re hearing? (discernment) Does who you’re listening to manifest the Spirit? Do they live what they say?
The Holy Spirit is within us, and he is greater than the one in this world. We are victors–through him, we have already won. He indwells within us and empowers us. He guides and comforts us. Because of him, we have the ability to discern the spirit of truth from error. You will recognize those with the Spirit by their fruits, and by the way they live. And we have everything we need to discern the truth! We have the Holy Spirit, we have God’s Word, and we have community. This is why we so badly need the church, our community, and things like small groups. We need those people to speak truth into our lives and be discerners alongside us. As we lean into each other and study God’s Word together, all things are possible.
3. The Scripture test
Ask yourself: does this teaching align with the Word of God?
False prophets and antichrist teachings are from the world, but we are from God. Why then, are they hard to recognize? False teachers look like us. They aren’t scary, they even look and sound cool. They are charismatic, and they often teach a little truth to confuse and suck us in. They tell us what we want to hear. We must beware of them, because they are from the world.
The passage tells us that everyone who knew God listened to John and the apostles. Jeremy brought up another passage, one from Acts 2, where those listening to Peter were cut to the soul because of the truth about God that they were taught. They then devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship with each other. We should do the same.
2 Timothy 3 says that the Word of God is the breath of God. Do you really believe that? Scripture reveals truth. As Jeremy said, we struggle because we don’t know the Word and we don’t run to it. He also gave us a few questions about what we believe about the Word of God to think about.
- Do you have a hunger for the Word of God? To hear, obey and proclaim it?
- Is your heart tender to the very breath of God?
- Is His Word the source you listen to and speak from? Or do you listen to the world?
There is much at stake as we consider the difference between truth and error. The global mission is at stake if we don’t get the word right.
As you step into this week, call upon Jesus and consider him, depend on the Holy Spirit, proclaim the Scriptures, and trust God to see the Great Commission fulfilled. He has already won, and we are invited to share in His victory.