Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
- Why do we need discernment as it relates to doctrine and Bible teaching? What implications does that discernment have in our lives as a result?
- Read John 5:39-40. How is it possible to diligently study the Scriptures but completely miss the point? What can we do to ensure that this doesn’t happen?
- Why is obedience to the truth necessary to grow in the power of discernment?
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?
In my time of ministry, and even that of time that I've been a follower of Jesus, I have heard a lot of things in the church, and from leaders in the church, that are straight nuts. Now, I'm not saying that happens all the time, but I have heard some stuff. Now, I'm not talking about the over-the-top stuff, like when people claim to be Jesus, but if you don't think that happens, it does happen. It happens in different parts of the world. You can go and look about all these people who claim to be Jesus all over the world.
By the way, there's a few I'll show you. This is a guy in Brazil named Inri Cristo. Okay, so just let me pause for a second. Number one, sweet ride, but number two, he has this... The I-N-R-I, which was above the cross of Jesus, which is the short form of the Latin abbreviation of Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. This guy has named himself, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, Christ. Inri Cristo, that's what he calls himself in Brazil, and apparently he has some powder blue followers that take him around on a sweet cart that they push. This is real. It's in Brazil. Don't go there. Stay away.
Second person that we can see, this is a guy named David Shayler. I know that looks like a woman. That's because this is his alter-ego, Dolores, true. Claims to be Jesus, and he looks like... Right now, he looks like he's speaking at a Woodstock after party or something. I don't know really what that's all about, but yeah, so claims to be Jesus, in fact, so much so that he says that the rod of Aaron, the one that budded, as you read about in the Old Testament, the one in the Ark of the Covenant... He says that inscribed on the rod of Aaron, it says, "David Shayler, king of righteousness." There's that guy, and he's in England, so avoid him.
Then here's a third. This is Vissarion. He's up here. This is Siberia. That's why it looks really cold. This is not a statue. This is a dude, and he claims to be Jesus. They call him Vissarion. He comes down, and speaks to them all, and sits in that little covered area, because it's cold and snowy. You've got all these people, look, with their hands raised, like, "Oh, it's Jesus." He claims to be Jesus. He leads the Church of the Last Testament, the last testament, not the Old Testament, not the New Testament, the last testament. Where'd he get that? He wrote it. He wrote it. The Church of the Last Testament, he wrote it. He has 4000 followers in Siberia. Next time you're in Siberia, don't go there. These people claim to be Jesus.
Okay, now, I know that usually those things aren't catching us off guard, and we're going, "You know what? I think the guy at the Woodstock after party, I think that guy might be Jesus." All right, none of us are really getting taken off guard there. There's more than this, by the way. I just gave you three. There's a guy in Japan named Mitsuo Matayoshi, who has created an entire political platform. He runs for elected office there, and he created an entire political platform around this idea that he is the lord god almighty. Interestingly enough, he never wins any elections, which kind of goes to the fact that he's not the lord god almighty. I would think the Lord God almighty, if He wanted to rig the elections, could do that quite easily, but nonetheless, so there's loads of these people.
Now, I know these are over the top, but even some lesser kinds of forms of this, these don't necessarily deceive us. We don't go, "Oh man, I think those people are Jesus," but we get weird things that we hear and we see all the time. Just recently, I saw this guy who is purportedly a prophecy expert, who was talking about the antichrist is going to be an AI, artificial intelligence, and he said that 5G technology is what will usher in the antichrist. Now, number one, I don't know about an antichrist cyborg, so I'm not really going to speak to that, but that's what he's suggesting. Number two, apparently this guy still sells books and still gets on television, even though a few years earlier, he predicted the exact time and date that Jesus was going to return, and that worked out really well for him, right?
Yet, yet, there are people that still continue to buy his stuff. I'm going, look, if you set a date on when Jesus is coming back, I'm just not listening anymore, because no one knows the hour, not even the Son, but only the Father. That's what it says, so even if you did figure it out, Jesus would change it so that you wouldn't know it! I don't know if He would do that or not, but whatever. You've got that, right?
There's also a church in the Southeast. I won't tell you what city. It rhymes with Schmatlanta, but I'm not going to tell you where it is. It's in the South, right? Here's what they did in this church. This is true. I just read about this. This church actually hired, for their pastoral staff, a psychic medium, true story. Yes, she talks to dead people, and apparently the church thought that was a good idea. She is employed on a church staff as a psychic medium. By the way, it's been reported in some circles that this is one of the faster growing churches in the Southeast. I'm concerned, right? That's a concerning thing.
Is it fair to say that, in the culture that we live in, that we need some discernment? I think we do. By the way, I'm concerned, generally speaking, about discernment, like of everybody, right? I don't want anybody to be undiscerning, but I'm most concerned about those of us who claim to know Jesus, who populate places in local churches. I want those people to be discerning, because if not, it leads to a whole lot of nothingness, and a whole lot of wrongness. What we believe really matters. What we say is true really matters, because it leads to the kind of people we are and the kind of things that we do. That's why I read with interest a particular survey that comes out every two years or so, that's commissioned by Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Christian Resources to reputable places.
What they do, it's called The State of Theology. What they do is they measure, in the lives of people at large and also in the church, that they would call evangelical, if we could just use that term for a moment without having to get all crazy... They use this idea, and they start asking questions about what people believe about certain things, and then you see the responses. Now they've done it in 2014 and '16 and '18, and now you can actually go back, and you can compare, like where was this comparable to where it was two years ago?
Now, I will say this. There are some things within that study that are pretty encouraging, like that I read and go, hey, that's good. I'm glad to know, generally speaking, that people affirm this, and that people in the church actually affirm this, but there are also a number of things that are highly concerning. For instance, I'll give you a few statements that people were given, and then I'll show you what the responses were, so that you can have an idea of what was in there.
Here was a statement. God accepts the worship of all religions, including, and then just named Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, in other words, all religions everywhere, and here's some that you may know, but all religions everywhere. God accepts the worship of all religions. I'm sorry, what? 51% of people in the church agree with that statement. Now, some of you right now are going, "What is wrong with that statement? Isn't it just all the same?" Huh, no, no, no! In fact, listen to what, this is just... I just looked it up. In 1 John chapter 2, listen to what it says. "Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist, denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. No one who denies the Son has the Father."
Jesus is the great distinguishing mark for why we believe what we believe. It's not just anything everywhere, because when we are worshiping a god that we have created in our minds that is void of Jesus, this is not God that we are worshiping. We are now worshiping something other than that, but yet 51% agree with this. In 2016, it was just under a majority, and now it's just over a majority.
Here's another statement. Everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature; 52% of evangelicals agree with that statement. Everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature. Read Romans chapter 3, just that. We could go many other places. Just read Romans chapter 3. "There are none who are righteous, no not one, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." This is not just talking about that we've made a mistake here and there, but by our very nature, we are sinful by nature, and that is obvious by our choices.
Let me give you a third one. Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God; 78% agree. Jesus wasn't created by God. Jesus is God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Colossians says He is the image of the invisible God in bodily form, but 70-some-odd percent are going, "He was created by God." We have a discernment problem. That's why I'm going to spend a number of weeks talking about this idea of our learning how to discern. It's imperative.
Those of you who are on the younger scale, as well, you're bombarded every single day with lies. I'm talking about every day of your life you're bombarded with lies. It is approaching you through a million different avenues. All of us are, and we've got to be able to learn how to discern. Now, this idea of whacked out theological thinking is not new to our generation. In fact, it's been around a very long time. Even during the time of the writing of the Bible itself, this was around. When the Apostle Paul is writing to his young protégé, Timothy... Timothy was going to be pastoring in Ephesus and helping to work with the people of Ephesus and the Church of Ephesus, and so Paul wrote to him. He wrote two letters. That's why they call them 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy, for all of us that are a little slow to pick up on that, right? 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy... He wrote two letters.
In those letters, we're going to look predominantly at the second letter, 2 Timothy, in chapter number 3 and chapter 4. That's where we're going to be if you want to find your spot there. We're going to land there in just a minute. What you figure out from Paul, the apostle, is that this is part and parcel of what he's concerned about. He's concerned that, hey, Timothy, it's going to get difficult, because people are going to start saying crazy stuff. They're going to start teaching crazy stuff, and you've got to prepare yourself for this.
This isn't new to our generation. It's every generation has to deal with this, but I want you to hear Paul's concern in 2 Timothy chapter 4, verses 3 and 4. Listen to what he says. He says to Timothy, "For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."
Now, some of you are going, "Man, Dude, are you going to talk... Seriously, are you going to talk about doctrine?" Yeah, yeah. First of all, let me explain what I'm talking about, because you need to hear it. The reason I'm talking to you about things that you need to hear is so that we're not guilty of what Paul was warning Timothy about. He was basically saying this. "There's going to come a time, Timothy," and he wasn't talking about 2019. He wasn't saying, "Hey, Timothy, a long, long time from now, you're going to be way gone, so I don't even know why I'm telling you this, but they're going to really have some problems then."
No, he was preparing Timothy what was going to happen with Timothy. He said, "There's going to be a time coming, where people will not..." Listen to this. "They won't put up with sound doctrine." That means they won't bear with it. They won't endure with it. They will not put up with sound doctrine. What does sound doctrine mean?
Well, the word doctrine itself just means teaching. That's what the idea is there. Sound is not talking about something we hear. It's talking about being healthy or whole, not sick, right? He basically says, here's the deal. There's going to come a time where people are not going to put up with healthy teaching. They're going to reject it, and here's what they'll do. They're going to gather for themselves all kinds of people, all these teachers. They're going to gather for themselves teachers that will tickle their ears and tell them what they want to hear. Notice what he didn't say. They're not going to tell them what they need to hear. They're going to tell them what they want to hear, because left to our own devices, we don't want to hear about sin. Left to our own devices, we don't want to hear about judgment. Left to our own devices, all we want to hear about is I'm awesome, and I can do whatever I want. Left to our own devices, it's about I'm awesome, and I want to do whatever I want. Nobody can tell me any different.
We don't want to hear about authority over our life. We don't want to hear about the fact that our lives should be surrendered to another. We don't want to hear about the fact that we should be serving people out of a love for Christ. In our own natural disposition, we don't want to hear those things, so we gather up teachers to tell us what we want to hear. You know what else we want to hear? We want to hear that we're all going to be super rich. Tell us more, right?
This is what happens. He says what happens is that they've now turned aside from the truth, and they're believing myths. That word myth means a false narrative, fake news, things that aren't true. That's what they start believing, and that's not where we want to be, so Paul warns Timothy about this, and rightly so, but this is a concern for Paul, that he carried over from his first letter.
I'm reading, and we're going to be talking today out of 2 Timothy, but Paul was concerned about it in 1 Timothy. Notice, in fact, what he said in the last chapter, chapter 6. He said, "If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing." Paul's not messing around here, right? He's really serious about this idea. In fact, Paul's not just serious with Timothy, but he's also serious with another person that he has launched out into ministry, named Titus.
Titus was helping to oversee the church at Crete, while Timothy was overseeing the church at Ephesus. Paul warned Timothy in two different letters, sound doctrine's super important, Timothy, and do you know what he said to Titus? Same thing. He said, "Hey, Titus, make sure when you appoint elders there in Crete, make sure that they get this." In fact, here's what he said in chapter 1. "The elder must hold firmly to the trustworthy message, as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose sound doctrine," but he didn't let Timothy... He didn't say, "Hey, Titus, I want you to appoint some elders to do this, but I'm not worried about you." No, he actually said, "Titus, you've got to be concerned about you, as well."
It's rain. It just rains occasionally. It's what it is. Everybody's freaking out, looking around, going, "What is happening? Is this an alien invasion? Did that guy from Siberia show up? What is happening?" Everybody take it easy. It's rain. You knew it was coming, right? Not a surprise. If you're driving around listening on WDCX, just relax, 10 and 2 position, put your wipers on, keep your lights on. Everybody's good. Everybody okay? It's rain. Take it easy.
He told Titus that he had to embrace this, as well, not just his elders. Notice what he said in Titus 2. "You Titus, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine." Can we establish the fact that Paul is really serious about discerning sound doctrine? Yes, it's clear in what he's saying to Timothy and to Titus.
Now listen. Stay with me here. How do we discern sound doctrine? How do we get to a place where you and I, we can actually have a lens to look through to say, "Is this sound doctrine or is it not?" Because this is so important, because if we embrace things that are false, if we embrace lies, if we embrace teaching that's not consistent with who God is, it leads us to different places and decisions and actions and lifestyles, and so this is super important for us to go, "How do we do this?" By the way, if you're under 30 years old, I want you to dial in right now. I want you to listen carefully, because I am concerned. I mean, I've got a 22-year-old and an almost 19-year-old, and I realize, looking at their lives and their generation, how much they are bombarded with everything in the world, and so much of what we're hearing about are just lies on top of lies, with grains of truth to suck you in, just so you'll believe more of the lies.
We've got to be able to discern sound doctrine. How do we do that? I'm going to tell you. I'm going to walk us through that, but I want to first begin with giving you a definition of sound doctrine that's not my own definition. Now, the origin of this definition is unknown. Scholars have used it all over the place, but none of us know exactly where it came from. Wherever it came from, it's a really good definition. I would attribute it if I knew, but we don't know, and that's that. It's not mine, but it's a good one, and I'm going to use it. Here it is.
Here's what sound doctrine is: teaching about God, from God, that directs us to the glory of God. I'm going to say it again. Sound doctrine is teaching about God, from God, that directs us to the glory of God. Now, I know a number of you have jotted that down, particularly those of you who are leading community groups, because your community group actually talks about all of these ideas that we're dealing with in the message itself. Those of you who are in a community group, you're taking some notes, as well, so you've got some things to bring to the party, so you can interact with what's being talked about and what's being taught. Those who aren't in a community group, you're going to get in one really soon. We're going to talk to you about that. At some point in the not too distant future, we're coming to your house, so just make sure you buckle up on that, right?
Now, how can we look at the idea of sound doctrine? How can we know something is sound doctrine? Well, I'm actually going to use the definition, and I'm going to give you lenses through which to look at how we discern sound doctrine, all right?
Here's what we said first about it. We said that it's about God, right? That's what we said. It is teaching that is about God. Now I want you to back up just a little bit in 2 Timothy, from chapter 4 into chapter 3, okay? I want to take this in order, just a little bit, and I want you to see what it says in 2 Timothy chapter 3, verses 14 and 15. Paul writes this, "But as for you, Timothy, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, your mom and your grandma, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."
Now why do I highlight that, and why do I point it out? I point it out because sound doctrine ultimately focuses on God. That's what the text is teaching us, that sound doctrine focuses on God and what He has done in and through Jesus. What this does is it makes us wise unto salvation. Now, when Paul talks about the idea of salvation, he's not just saying, hey, pay attention to the Scriptures because they tell you how to be saved. That's absolutely true, but Paul has a much broader and bigger definition when he's talking about the idea of salvation. He's talking about not only how we come to a place of salvation, through what God has done in Jesus Christ, but also why we are shown this salvation, for the purposes of God in living that out, that we talked about in the last series that we did.
This is a big definition. We have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. Listen, any doctrine that is teaching us about God needs to teach us truthfully about God, who God is, based on what God has revealed about Himself. Paul says, "Timothy, the reason that you know these things is because you've known them from your infancy through the Holy Scriptures." In other words, God has revealed Himself in the way that God wants to reveal Himself, in the person of Jesus and through His Word, and so what God says about Himself is what we need to make sure we understand and we embrace, because that's what sound doctrine is. It's not us making things up about God that aren't true about how God has revealed Himself. In other words, we have to embrace all of who God is, God as Father, God as Son, God as Holy Spirit.
We just sang about that, right? I believe in God the Father. I believe in Christ, His Son. I believe in the Holy Spirit, right? This is the Trinitarian nature of God that we have believed, that is the truth of who God is literally for millennia. For millennia, we have believed this truth, that God is one God in essence, but He has revealed Himself in three distinct identities, as Father, Son, and Spirit, and so when we learn about the nature of God, we learn that what God has done in creating everything and in saving humanity has happened through Jesus Christ by the agency of the Holy Spirit. We have to understand this if we want to understand sound doctrine.
You see, sometimes the problem for us is, when we're talking about God is that we forget that the Bible is actually pointing to the centerpiece, Jesus Christ, about how we understand the nature of God. You see, Jesus is the blazing hot center of the glory of God. For us, we need to be able to look at that and say, "This is where I learn about who God is, from His Word, but most specifically, in the person of Jesus." Why? Because Jesus is God with skin on. He is revealing to us the nature of who God is.
You see, Jesus dealt with, sometimes, the religious leaders, who thought that they knew everything about everything. They got really in love, these religious leaders. They fell really in love with studying the Scripture and knowing a bunch of stuff, but Jesus was like, did you not know that this is about Me, actually all of the Old Testament, that the Law and the Prophets, that they were actually all pointing to Me? Did you miss that part?
Listen to how Jesus addressed these religious leaders in John chapter 5. He said to them, He said, "You study the Scriptures diligently, because you think that in them you have eternal life, but these are the very Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life." You see, studying the Scripture by itself is not what gives us life. It is the actual person behind the Scripture, what's being testified to about the Scripture. It is God Himself. It is Jesus Christ. That's where we find life. That's where we find salvation, and so what we have to understand is that the teaching that we embrace needs to be about God, in the fullness of who God is, and what God is doing in the world for the salvation of humanity. That's one lens to look through, when we start understanding sound doctrine, okay?
There's a second lens, right? I said that it's teaching about God, from God. What am I referring to there? Well, Paul goes on, in the next verse, to tell us exactly what I'm referring to. Here's what he says in 2 Timothy 3:16. "All Scripture is God-breathed." Now, that word God-breathed... In many of your translations, it says inspired. "All Scripture is inspired."
Well, the thing about that is that this idea actually takes us to the implication on a few different fronts. I want you to stay with me. The idea that the Scripture is from God is really important to us. Why? Because, first of all, it gets at the idea of origin, right? Where did this come from? What is the origin of this? It came from God. See, the language there, the Greek word theopneustos, which we translate inspired, it literally means this: breathed out by God.
When we're talking about what Paul said to Timothy, he said, "All Scripture is breathed out by God." This goes to its origin. Now, I realize what goes on in some of our minds. We're going, hang on a second, man. Didn't people write the Bible? Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah, absolutely. Listen to this. People wrote the Bible, but people were not the authors of it. It is God-breathed. It is inspired by God.
What does that mean, Jerry? I'm not sure if I follow that. Does that mean that Matthew went into a trance, and the Holy Spirit just went da-da-da-da-da-da-da and wrote all this stuff? No, that's not at all what it means. You will be able to trace the human agency and personality in all of the writings of Scripture. You can see it in Paul's writings. You can see it in Luke. You can see it in John. You can see it in Matthew. You can see it in Peter. You can see it in the writings that these are people, that they didn't turn off themselves, but what happens is the Spirit of God, through human personality, superintends a process, such that it describes that which originated with God.
I know some of you are going, so what just happened? Well, that's why we have an Internet. You can go back and watch this, right? This is important for us to grab hold of, though, because the origin is from God. Yes, human beings wrote it, but they weren't the authors. God is, because all Scripture is breathed out by God. This goes to origin, but do you know what else it goes to? The idea of authority. Because this is from God, it has its origin with God, and that means that it has authority from God. That means that the text of Scripture is actually what God breathed, through human agency, by the superintending power of the Holy Spirit, and He did this in such a way that it now has a divine origin, and it has authority over our lives.
Think about this. If God breathed something and then it was given to you, does that have bearing on your life? You bet it does. It has authority over our lives, because God is the One. It originated with God. It didn't originate in the mind of just a person. It originated in the heart of God, and through human agency He has communicated that, superintending the process by His Holy Spirit. It is inspired by God. That has now divine authority. Why? Because it has divine origin. Because it comes from God, that means it has authority over our lives.
That's why, when Luke was writing Acts, and he was talking about the different churches, one of which was Berea, he talked about how he commended them because of what they did. They understood the authority of Scripture. Notice what he said. It's in Acts chapter 17. He said, "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." This is the Apostle Paul, right? This is the Apostle Paul, and he's preaching to these people in Berea, and what's he preaching from? What Scriptures is he using? The Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, right? The New Testament has not fully been put together at this point. He's preaching the Old Testament and showing them how all of this points to Jesus. Do you know what the Bereans are doing? They are studying the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul is saying is true. Do you know why? Because they knew that the Scriptures came from a divine authority, because they had a divine origin. That's what they understood.
Listen, this is from God. This is how we need to understand sound doctrine, because we understand its origin, its authority, and by the way, it also teaches us about the unity of Scripture, because it's from God. Listen, if the Scripture has been born in the mind and heart of God, for us to be able to have and to learn, that means that it's a unified whole, because God doesn't contradict Himself. God is not self-contradictory in His nature.
Now does that mean that there are some things that are challenging to understand? Nope, Scripture is super simple. There's nothing there. It's super easy. Yeah, there's some stuff that's challenging to understand, right? Here's what we can do. Because we trust in the origin of Scripture, and we trust in the unity of scripture, what we can do is we can interpret Scripture with other Scripture, because Scripture will agree with Scripture. Why? Because it was born in the heart and the mind of God, and God is non-contradictory in His own personhood. You say, man, but there's some hard things to understand. There are, so don't misunderstand me. Listen carefully.
Can there be tensions in the Word, as we read them? Absolutely. Contradictions? No. When we think of something as a contradiction, it's simply because we don't understand what God has communicated. It's on us, not on Him. We've got to be able to grab hold of the idea that being from God is a part of understanding sound doctrine. It's about God, and it's from God.
Then thirdly, it is to lead us to the outcome of the glory of God. What am I saying when I say that? Well, notice what Paul goes on to say in the rest of verse 16 and 17. He says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for," here it is, "every good work." See, when Paul uses the phrase "every good work," it's just another way of saying, "for the glory of God." In other words, sound doctrine will lead us to the glory of God and will not lead us... Listen to this, will not lead us to self-exaltation or self-promotion or self-aggrandizement. It's not going to lead us there.
Sound doctrine leads to the glory of God, and that's something that we have to be able to look through. Now Paul talked about this idea of the glory of God in a bunch of different places. I mean, just as a sample, 1 Corinthian 10, he says, "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." In Colossians, he just said it more patently, talking about putting Jesus on display, "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus." The glory of God is about putting God on display, putting Christ on display.
You know who modeled this idea? Jesus. Jesus is who modeled this idea about sound doctrine being for the glory of God, because even Jesus, in His teaching, said some things, listen to this, said some things about this very idea. Listen to what He said in John chapter 7. It says, "Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach, and the Jews there were amazed, and they asked, 'How did this man get such learning without having been taught?' Jesus answered, 'My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God, or whether I speak on my own. Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth. There is nothing false about him.'"
Did you hear Jesus, what He said? He said this isn't actually about anybody's individual personal glory. This teaching that I teach you, it's not even my own. It's from God. This is from God! That's why it's not for personal glory. It's for the glory of God. You see, that's one of the filters that we have to look through to be able to see this clearly, so when we talk about this idea of sound doctrine, we're saying that it's teaching that is about God, from God, that leads us to the glory of God. We've got lenses through which to look to determine whether this is sound teaching or it's not, but we have to ask this question.
Okay, so that's how I get at if it's sound doctrine, but what do I do with that? What am I supposed to do with that, now that you've given me some handles, some lenses, with which to do this? What do I do with that? Well, what you and I have to understand is that it's just the beginning to discern sound doctrine. In fact, I want to highlight a statement that Jesus made in what I just read to you a moment ago. I want to highlight a statement that we moved past quickly, but I don't want you to miss it.
Look at it again. It's there in John 7. Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me." Now, watch this. "Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God. Whoever chooses to do the will of God will find out if my teaching comes from God." You see, it is just the beginning when we discern sound doctrine.
Write this down. Sound doctrine won't be fully understood until it's lived. Sound doctrine won't be fully understood until it's lived. You see, here's what happens. Let me show you how this goes. When we learn how to discern sound doctrine... I've given you some handles today to be able to work on that. When we learn how to discern sound doctrine, and then we choose, listen to this, we choose to live into and act on the truth of that sound teaching, that healthy teaching, do you know what happens in our lives? Our discernment grows exponentially, not just, listen, not just because we can discern sound doctrine, but because we live sound doctrine, because when we live sound doctrine, after having discerned it, the powers of our discernment go way, way up, because not only do we know this to be true in our minds, but we have seen the truth of God made manifest in our lives.
This is important, because the inverse of that also happens. When we don't really concern ourselves with sound doctrine, we're like, "Whatever, I'm just good. I'm not really into all that. I don't really care what people say. It's cool. He said Jesus once," right? We don't do that, therefore we're not living in the truth, because we haven't discerned the truth, and do you know what happens? We become increasingly gullible to lies, to the pressure of the world, to the doctrines of people instead of God, and even what Paul called the doctrine of demons. You're like, "What?" Yeah, I skipped that, because I just was moving forward.
Paul actually talked about the doctrine of demons. He said it in 1 Timothy chapter 4. Jesus talked about the doctrines of people, human beings. He said, "Your lips are far from me. You've put aside the commands of God." This is in Mark's Gospel. You've put aside the commands of God, and you've embraced basically just the teaching of human beings, with their rules and regulations. You just stack stuff on top.
You see, we become gullible to all of that when we don't know how to discern sound doctrine, and we don't choose to live in the context of it. This is a concerning thing for me, because part of my concern lies in the fact that we have a very undiscerning church in North America. That's evidenced by some of the things that I showed you earlier. When you have a low level of discernment in the church, combined with the technology to listen to anyone, anywhere, for any reason, that is a bad cocktail. Low discernment, with all the technology you can muster to listen to anybody, anywhere, anytime... Ugh, not so good.
You say, "Jerry, is everybody on a podcast or everybody on television bad and all that?" No, not at all. I'm not saying that. Are there plenty of them? Yes, there are, right? There are plenty of them. There are dudes who think that they're Jesus. There are people that tell you that it's a good idea to hire a psychic medium at your church, and apparently everyone goes along with that. It's a concern, so what do we do?
Well, I want you and I to challenge ourselves to do a couple of things. I want you to challenge yourself to be a learner and a tester of truth. Then I want you to learn how and for me to learn how to live in that truth that we have tested and seen as sound. You see, in the generation that we live in, I hear this all the time, "I'm just trying to be my authentic self. This is just me. I'm living my truth." There's no your truth and my truth. There's just truth, just truth, because truth is true. I don't own it. You don't own it. Truth is true.
Now I realize we all have unique experiences. We've all experienced a lot of different things, and so when we talk about I want to share with you my experiences. I want to share with you my... But let's not talk about my truth and your truth, because there's just truth. Truth is true, and by the way, there's no definition of truth outside of Jesus, because He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me." There is no definition of truth outside of Jesus, because He, Himself, is truth. He is the truth of God.
What we find is we find a generation that is saying, "Man, I just... This is my truth. I'm just trying to be my authentic self. I just want to... I want to do me. You do you. Everything's good, and it's all true." No, it's not! It's not all true! We have to be able to learn how we can see through that, because sometimes what people say to us is this. I've heard this a gazillion times, and you've probably heard it a gazillion times. You might even have said it a few times, but I hear people say it all the time. "Look, I'm just trying to live what I believe, man. I'm just trying to live what I believe." Listen, that is not always the same.
What if what you believe is stupid? I'm not saying it is. I'm just saying, what if that was the case? What if what you believed was stupid? What if what you believed was a lie? Do you really just want to live that? See, that's why truth matters so much, because it's not just about, "Dude, I'm just trying to not be a hypocrite. I just want to live what I believe." But what if what you believe is wrong? What if what you believe is nuts, right? That's just, it's just not true.
That's why Paul was so concerned in talking to Timothy and so concerned talking to Titus, and why the Scripture is so concerned with reminding us that we need to embrace sound doctrine. Do you know why? Because what we need to do is we need to challenge ourselves. Listen, we need to challenge ourselves to learn how to discern sound doctrine, and then to live in the truth of it. Do you know why? Because we begin to be conformed into the image of Jesus, and it allows us to be people of discernment and what the world needs. What the darkened, stumbling around, harassed, and helpless world needs are people that can discern the way forward, people that because of the light of Jesus Christ emanating out of them actually can see the path forward and are not stumbling around in the darkness, harassed and helpless and lost.
That's why I'm concerned about our need to learn to discern, because to do so means we're conformed more into the image of Jesus, and we can actually get after the mission that He has us on of leading people to the truth of who He is. This is why it matters. Let's bow our heads together.
We'll be gone in just a moment, but if you're here, maybe you've come and this is like new to you. You're hearing some things that are new, but you're saying, you know what? Man, what you were saying about Jesus, it rings true with me. I believe that. I believe Jesus is the only way of salvation. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe I can't save myself, and that only He can save me, but I don't know what to do with that.
Well, you're in a great place. We're so glad you're here. What we'd love to do is at the close, when we dismiss everybody, as you walk out of either this room or the East Worship Center, wherever you are, if you'd just come straight across the atrium into the Fireside Room... It's clearly marked. You can see it. It's not scary. It's all lit up, and some really nice people in there, some pastors and some other friends. They'd love to take a moment and talk to you about what it means to surrender your life to Jesus, have your sins forgiven, have your life made new.
We'd love to do that. I mean, you've seen that happen, just in watching some of the videos that we showed you about young men and young ladies, who have given their life to Christ, and they followed the Lord in believer's baptism, because of what has happened in their life. They wanted to demonstrate that they're identifying with Jesus' death, His burial, and His resurrection.
We see life change happen around here a lot, and we're grateful for the Spirit of God's activity. If that's your need, when we dismiss in a moment, I hope you'll come by the Fireside Room. You don't have a greater need than this. Lunch? Not a greater need than this. Getting where you're going? Not a greater need than this. I promise you. I hope you'll come by.
Father, for those of us who claim to know You, I realize that even though at times we press in, and we've experienced Your transformation, there are also places and spaces where we've allowed the world to dictate to us what truth looks like, instead of the breathed out Word from God. Father, would You help us to be a people who grows in discernment, because we learn truthfully about who You are from your breathed out Word, and that we begin to live that truth, not just to know it intellectually, but we act on it? We live it, and in so doing, we confirm in our hearts the truthfulness of truth.
May You do that, so we would be a people of discernment, who can lead in places and spaces and with people who are stumbling around in darkness, as the Scripture says, who are lost, as the Scripture says. We can only do that because of Your grace, because we have been found. We didn't find ourselves. You've rescued us. You have found us, so we are just beggars telling other beggars where to find bread.
Would You help us to be a people of discernment, so that we can cut through the lies and the things that want to take hold of our souls and our hearts and bring us to places of captivity and bondage and things that aren't really life, but that You would instead set us free to be people who are filled with the life of Jesus and can help other people around us to experience that life? We trust You to do this among us, so that we might glorify You as the end of our life. We pray in Jesus' name, amen.