Blog #310: Cultivating Discerning Believers

Submitted to us recently was this article by Steven Lawson, written In The Goodseed magazine. The principles we are preaching through from the Letter to the Hebrews are seen in thus article: Cultivating discerning believers

Guarding new believers from being deceived by false teaching.

While a person can certainly become saved through hearing a less-than-thorough gospel presentation, our desire is to not just see a person saved, but to also see them equipped for a fruitful walk with the Lord.

One doesn’t have to look far to see the outcomes of shallow teaching in Christianity, as this is nothing new. Take the revivals of the 1800s. Revivals of that century undoubtedly brought great good, both individual and societal; they also produced some less-than-ideal outcomes.

“The cults are the unpaid bills of the church.”

It is well-documented that several Christian cults sprouted from the prepared soil of the great revivals of the past. Before the Second Great Awakening of the 1800s, less than 10% of Americans belonged to a church. As revival swept Western society, people were carried along by religious fervour and revival. Many heard enough of the Bible’s message to change their spiritual trajectory. Of those, some were funnelled into local churches and gained greater biblical teaching and discipleship. But many were not, getting caught up in strange teaching or simply returning back to their previous way of life. Cults such as Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses were born and grew exponentially out of the spiritual tumult of the Second Great Awakening. It has been said that “the cults are the unpaid bills of the church.”

“We have enough religion to make us susceptible, but not enough doctrine to make us discerning.”

In our own times, many untaught believers are just as vulnerable. Norman Geisler stated that “the cults thrive because Christians are lacking in biblical and theological understanding.” And elsewhere, “We have enough religion to make us susceptible, but not enough doctrine to make us discerning.” It’s an issue we cannot ignore if we wish to be responsible ambassadors of the gospel.

This foundational teaching needs to start with the gospel. We must ensure the foundations are strong in the area most fundamental to our beliefs. Instead, we often rush through the gospel, urgently intent on seeing people saved, then move right on into sanctificational teaching, not taking the time to ensure the basic framework of biblical understanding is in place.

As believers, we desire to see lives saved for eternity. But we should also desire to teach the gospel in such a way as to guide a person towards a strong biblical understanding, which is the best safeguard against being so easily drawn away into false teaching.

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