Scriptural principles are practically applied to help Christians not only develop and define day-to-day spiritual discernment but regard it as an essential practice.
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About the Author
Tim Challies (BA, McMaster University) is a self-employed web designer and a pioneer in the Christian blogosphere, having one of the most widely read and recognized Christian blogs, Challies.com. He is also the editor of DiscerningReader.com, a site dedicated to offering thoughtful reviews of books that are of interest to Christians. Tim lives in Oakville, Ontario, with his wife, Aileen, and their three children.
John MacArthuris thepastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, where he has served since 1969. He is known around the world for his verse-by-verse expository preaching and his pulpit ministry via his daily radio program, Grace to You.He has also written or edited nearly four hundred books and study guides. MacArthur serves as the president of the Master's Seminary and Master's University. He and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four grown children.
Table of Contents
Foreword John MacArthur 9
A Call to Discernment 19
The Challenge of Discernment 37
Defining Discernment 53
The Heart of Discernment 73
Truth and Discernment 91
The Will and Discernment 109
The Gift of Discernment 123
The Dangers of Discernment 139
Developing Discernment 153
The Practice of Discernment 163
Conclusion: The Discipline of Discernment 183
Resources for Discernment 185
Study Guide 191
General Index 201
Scripture Index 205
What People are Saying About This
"Tim Challies is one of the finest young evangelical thinkers of our day. He combines keen insight with theological maturity and spiritual depth. The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment should help form the Christian character of a new generation of evangelicals. Indeed, we must hope so."
R. Albert Mohler Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"Unfortunately, in our time, even among Christians, discernment is long in demand and short in supply. This is but one reason I'm so delighted to commend to you The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. Tim Challies reminds us that the Bible commands us to cultivate discernment, but he doesn't stop there. He tells us how, biblically."
J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor, CEO, and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
"The many fans Tim Challies has won through his highly regarded blog will discover in this book the motivation that drives his incisive analysis of cultural events and trends-a keen respect for truth and a passionate commitment to biblical discernment."
Nancy Pearcey, author, Total Truth; Finding Truth; and Love Thy Body
"This book is simple, clear, well-written, accurate, and even insightful. I read it all. I liked it all. I will recommend it often."
Mark Dever,Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; President, 9Marks
"I've simply never read a more thorough, practical, and biblically sound treatment of this subject. Anyone wanting to study biblical discernment should not miss this book."
Donald S. Whitney, Associate Dean of the School of Theology and Professor of Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life and Praying the Bible
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It makes you stop and think why? you are making the choices you are making. It also helps you to understand why others may be choosing some of the things they are doing. Has a good Biblical base.
Tim Challies¿ amazingly thorough exploration of biblical discernment should be high on the reading list of every Christian who is concerned about what is true, and what is not ¿ who wants above all to know God¿s truth in order to know His will ¿ and who wants His will to replace his own. ¿We will find joy and peace not in following our own path,¿ the author points out, ¿but in allowing our minds to be so changed that our desires are the same as God¿s.¿ I believe this book can make a significant contribution to that process. /// I triple-starred many sections, but perhaps my favorite is the chapter entitled ¿The Practice of Discernment.¿ Here, Tim describes in compelling detail 17 steps for distinguishing between truth and error. He walks us through the process using an interesting example ¿ the seemingly benign premise that we need to forgive ourselves, endorsed in a contemporary Christian song called 'surprise' ¿Forgive Yourself¿ as well as by every fan and proponent of the self-esteem movement. /// I¿ve already had the opportunity to apply his suggestions to a theological issue I¿ve been wrestling with for months. Guess what: They work! They actually broke the pattern of circular thinking I¿d fallen into over this particular issue, leading me to biblical truths that have restored my peace. /// The first line of a favorite hymn kept dancing through my head as I read: ¿Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.¿ I¿d always thought the writer meant that he wanted the Lord to be all that he sees, and that may indeed be the case. But this book has given me a new spin on these words. As Tim writes, ¿Our goal in discernment is to do just this: to see things through God¿s eyes through the Bible and thus to see things as they really are.¿ I¿m already finding that a little easier to do.
Very well written, easily understood. He gives very helpful suggestions on how to develop spiritual discernment in your own life. Highly recommend it to all.
This book is an immensely valuable treasure-trove of guidance and inspiration in seeking discernment in all areas of life. One might thus expect to pick it up and find very specific recommendations about how to make decisions in matters of Christian distinctives, career choices, education, relationships, and other areas. This book distinguishes itself, however, by approaching discernment first as a topic of theological exposition and then as a matter of application, distinguishing itself from similar books and websites that "offer lists of what to do and not to do" without losing its practicality. Challies begins by calling the reader to discernment as a spiritual discipline that everyone must practice in order to move forward, rather than backward, in their Christian walk. He then distinguishes between wisdom and discernment, defining the latter in a more specific way and demonstrating its relationship to Biblical truth. Challies addresses the area of coming to terms with distinctives in worship, which he would not call "non-essentials" as some Christians do, but matters of different degrees of priority. This discussion is aimed primarily at the average Christian who sometimes finds himself with a choice to make in terms of which church to go to out of two or three with similar theologies, but different worship styles, for example; it is not aimed at pastors and others with the responsibility to direct choices in matters of congregational worship. This section might have been strengthened by addressing more clearly when and how a Christian might decide to worship in a place where he does not agree with all of the distinctives, though Challies does make it explicit that it is very rare that a Christian's best option is to refrain from joining any church at all.The end of the book offers more guidance on when a Christian is free to make his own determinations, such as in matters of career changes; Challies provides a brief example of how he counseled someone in making such a decision, but wisely refrains from delving into too-explicit lists of prescriptions and proscriptions for what to choose in a variety of circumstances. The book closes instead with a chapter suggesting a process to work through in applying discernment to one's searching of the Word for guidance on any issue of interest, which Challies illustrates with a sample theological question. The level of detail provided about how to go through such a process is generous without being daunting.All in all, Challies manages to bridge a gap between theology and application in a way that does not gloss over the importance of either, but does not go overboard in either, remaining accessible to a wide audience of readers at any stage in their spiritual development. Inspiring and thought-provoking illustrations punctuate a well-researched and clearly argued philosophy on discernment that readers should benefit from revisiting again and again.
In the flooded market of Christian book publishing, it is indeed rare for a book to truly break new ground. Rarer still is a book that breaks new ground in a clear and practical way on a topic that is important to the life of every follower of Christ.And yet that is exactly what Tim Challies has done in this debut book. While we have multitudes of books on prayer, love, humility, obedience, and other aspects of our walk with Christ, there have been few that specifically and comprehensively deal with this other crucial aspect of Christian living: discernment.Challies first calls us to the importance of discernment in our lives, as a mark of spiritual maturity and as a guard of the gospel. He next takes time to review the significant challenges to living a life of discernment in this culture, dealing specifically with internal, spiritual, and cultural influences.From there he spends a chapter building a specific definition of spiritual discernment based on its use in the Bible. He defines discernment as ¿the skill of understanding and applying God¿s Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong.¿There is a chapter on discerning and judgement, which compares things which the Bible instructs us not to judge (¿motives or the righteousness of other believers¿) vs. things the Bible commands us to judge (such as doctrine). From explaining that discernment is primarily concerned with the truth of God, he next moves onto a helpful chapter devoted to an overview of discernment as it applies to the will of God.Chapter seven of the book looks at discernment as a spiritual gift, while chapter eight is devoted to the dangers of discernment when used improperly. Lastly, Challies describes the spiritual disciplines that equip us to develop discernment, and goes through a detailed practical example of discernment in action.The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment really is a book for every believer, that lays out a solid foundation and a useful guide to becoming a more discerning Christian. I was personally challenged in reading this book to apply discernment as a more serious and systematic discipline in my own life. Highly recommended.
"The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment" deals with a subject that is especially relevant in our time: discerning between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and error. In the preface to this book pastor John MacArthur suggests that this book "should be required reading not only for church leaders, but for all sober-minded laypeople as well." I agree. As a pastor it will be my aim to get this book into the hands of as many church members as possible. In fact, I have been looking for a book like this one since I entered the ministry... Far too few (in our churches) know what it means to exercise careful discernment. As they read books, watch television and listen to popular pastors and teachers too many are like sponges soaking up everything they receive; as a result many are getting caught up with false teachings and doctrines that cause much harm individually and corporally. Here is a book that offers tools for those who wish to grow in this area and avoid the many pitfalls all around. In this book Challies presents an urgent call to the spiritual discipline of discernment. He not only discusses some of the challenges of discernment in our day, he also offers very practical steps for those who wish to grow in this discipline. This is a very helpful and important book.