A Voice in the
February 16, 1998
Judgmental vs. Discernment
Typically, if a Bible "study" was being conducted, but the teacher was unprepared, had no outline or lesson plan, and the study was consisting of people sitting around discussing "what they think" the passage means; or "what it means TO THEM" ...if a person who loves and knows the Word would be in such a setting and start to say "thus says the Lord"; or, "this is WHAT IT SAYS." ...such firmness and conviction in the "black and white" of what is written was called "judgmental."
Along the same lines, if certain teachings (doctrine) from Scripture were discussed, and everybody was wallowing around in their favorite "gray areas" and someone in the group would come out with "thus says the Lord"; or "this is WHAT IT SAYS" ...such "dogmatism" to "absolutes" in Scripture was labelled "judgmental." Because by inference, such absolutes would then be saying that the favorite gray areas were "wrong." And it's not "cool" to call anybody "wrong." You know, "I'm right and everybody else is wrong. Such pride! Such snobbery! Such...judgmentalism." And rather than seeing that the "absolute" was coming from Scripture, God's Word...they would attach it to the "person" who was bold enough to declare, "Thus says the Lord." And while the person presenting God's Word would be speaking God's truth TO THE DOCTRINE or "gray areas", those harboring the aberrant teachings would view the force of God's Word as a "personal attack."
But then, this is what the Holy Spirit does. He takes of "what is Christ's"(Jn16:14) and drills it into the innermost being of a person's "soul and spirit" (Heb4:12) where there is conviction. So, while the Believer was proclaiming God's Word, that Word drilled itself into the hearer's conscience, "accomplish[ing] what [God] please[d], and [prospering] in the thing for which [He] sent it."(Is55:11) But, since the hearer is not of the Spirit, he does not have the "witness" (Rom8:16) within himself, and so, all he can see is the physical "person" who uttered the words. So, the "person" is labelled "judgmental."
And then, in "application" of Scripture to one's life. "Life styles." If a person sought to follow God's Word and live a separated life from the world's gutter, the fact that he was "different" from the others, and did not join in with them, whether he said anything or not, was "judgmental" of their chosen life "style."
But the person thus labelled should not take it "personally." Realizing that their retort is not at them, but against Christ.(Jn15:18-27) And if it is against Christ, it is against the Father. But Jesus says that the Holy Spirit Who comes to us is the one Who testifies (vs26) and we are to "bear witness" to Him.(vs27)
The word "judgmental" by its predominant use, is one that was coined by liberal, carnal, unregenerate "christians." It is not found in Scripture.
However "Discern" and "Judge" are Scriptural terms. And is something that only a True Believing Christian is capable of doing; because it requires the Holy Spirit's indwelling to accomplish it.
We are to "discern" (test) the spirits, "whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1Jn4:1) We are to judge; not "according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."(Jn7:24) Judging by the "appearance" is what Jesus was speaking about in Mt7:1 "judge not, that you be not judged." However Jude is quite insistant about the need to "[pull people] out of the fire"(vs23); which requires a certain judgment (analysis, discernment, conclusion) as a person "[makes] a distinction."(vs22)
The only way a Christian can do this, however, is through the indwelling Holy Spirit.(Rom8:9) Part of the Spirit's ministry is to "convict." (Jn16:8) Some of that conviction is going to come about through the agency of a Believing Christian as we are "salt and lights" in the world.(Mt5:13-16)
And Paul is quite vehement about Christians judging (investigating, discerning, making decisions) amongst one another. (1Cor5:12-6:5)
But the basis for judgment MUST come from God's Word. From God's ABSOLUTES. And it is adequate to the task, since "All Scripture is...profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."(2Tm3:16-17)
The only N.T. reference to "tithe" is in Mt23:23 & Lk11:42, where Jesus is condemning the scribes and Pharisees for their distortion of the Law. However, He does not say the tithe should "not" be given, in those discussions as He is speaking to Israel.
As for N.T. teaching on giving, we find that from Paul. "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. (1Cor16:1-3)
And then in 2Cor chs 8-9 he speaks about the attitude of giving. Giving should be planned (and "pledged"?) according to one's abilities. (8:12) And giving should be done from a willing and cheerful heart. (9:7) But nothing is said about a "tithe" (tenth), or "how much."
Let us consider some differences between the O.T. and the N.T. and see if we can figure out "why" the difference. While Paul also teaches that "those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel"(1Cor9:14) ...and that the "laborer is worthy of his wages"(1Tm5:18); and as such, those who preach and teach should be supported by the giving of Christians; there is a fundamental difference between Israel and the Church.
Israel was a "theocracy." In other words, they were "ruled by" God...in everything. The "law" not only covered spiritual/religious things, but it also covered civic, governmental & judicial matters. The priests were "pastor", "teacher", "judge", "medical examiner", etc. They were the law of the land. And if you notice, the whole tribe of Levi was not given an "inheritance" in the land.(Deu10:9, Josh13:14,33) They lived from the sacrifices, tithes and offerings. In other words, in Israel, the tithe was very much like a "tax" to support the whole (governmental/religious) tribe of Levi, who were specifically dedicated to the religious/civic leadership duties.
Then, along comes Jesus, about to be crucified. And then a whole new situation is about to be set in motion. Israel is going to be dispersed, and for a time the Church (predominantly Gentile) comes about. (Rom11) But as Jesus teaches all these "new" things, they ask Him, "is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?" And He responds, "Render...to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Mt22:21)
So, as gentiles living in non-Israelie lands, we pay taxes...as a percentage of our income (as the tithe was). Our giving to the Lord is "as the Lord prospers" and as the person "purposes in his heart" in the same manner that Israel gave "offerings" which were over and above the tithe from a "willing heart" (Ex25:2,35:5,21,etc.) for the work of the tabernacle.
The passage your pastor was speaking from was likely "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. (Mal3:8) You notice, it mentions both "tithes" AND "offerings." Whatever you are to give to the Lord, if you don't do it, you are robbing God. In Israel that was the tithe-tax and freewill offerings. Today, for Gentiles, we pay our taxes "to Caesar" and give to the Lord "as He has prospered."
Do you think at times that some things are over preached and simple reading on the bible is enough. tke a work like proverbs it really needs no explanation and is full of wisdom within itself.
I just get the feeling that sometimes we look to much for the "practical application" and forget that the bible itself teaches this and has no need for embellishment for lack of a better word.
Although I am sure that most in the church read the bible regularly what if someone hasn't read all would not just a straight reading instead of a "message" be just as powerful for it is not us that are to speak but the Lord and what better way than only His Word.
What do you think?
While we see a lot of exhortation in churches, it is often not according to doctrine, nor based on reading. There is to be teaching (doctrine) and yes...reading. And I believe you are right...there are a lot of things that, if Christians simply read...they wouldn't need "preaching." Because, if you think about it..."where" does the preacher get his "material" from for preaching and teaching? From "reading."
But the need for teachers was even apparent back in the O.T. "So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.(Neh8:8) After all God gave "pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry." (Eph4:11-12)
But yes...simple "reading" (of Scripture) is something quite lacking in the churches.
Don't need a PERSON to teach?
Quote from "Past, Present, Future"
Acts 11:26 So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
Acts 15:35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.
2 Tim 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
Perhaps I'm over-reacting to your comment. Certainly, it is still the Holy Spirit which ultimately convicts of truth when we have heard it from someone gifted as a teacher.
As you stated in the introduction of your note (which didn't get pasted here) you have received just a "couple of" items from VW as forwarded to you by a friend. A regular subscriber/reader, and person who has visited the website will realize that we have received a few taunts from those who think VW needs "accountability" to some "human" agency. That, being answerable to some "human committee" will verify that it stays "on track" with God's Word. But VW and its readership consists of many Believers who have "come out of her, My people"(Rev18:4) due to the apostate nature of the "organizations." Many are "individuals" here and there who receive taunts and condemnations from people in the organizations from which they have emerged; and so they write, wondering if they are doing the "right thing" by being on their own, with the Lord. After all, if you think about it; if a person has spent their "entire life" attending "church" in that building with its rituals, and then receive God's call to come out, it's kind of a "scary thing" to do. All these years we have had the "ordained" man (with the proper credentials) at the pulpit telling us what we should do. But now, we are trusting the Lord..."by ourselves." Can we REALLY do this? And thus, the understanding...we don't need a PERSON telling us what God's Word says. The Holy Spirit does that.
As for my agreement with your Scripture quotations, please note my response to the question just above yours here. If I were "trivializing" God's gift for teachers, then the whole ministry of VW would be one big act of hypocrisy, wouldn't it.