Greetings bloggers! For your enjoyment, here is a review of Tim Challies new book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, from Crossway done by my father, Allen Mickle, Sr. My father is an M.Div. graduate from Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently searching for a ministry position. Below now then is his excellent review of this book by Challies.
One of the legacies of twentieth century Evangelical Christianity has been its loss of biblical knowledge. This loss of biblical knowledge has left Christians susceptible to every kind of deception that blows their way resulting in a plethora of counterfeit doctrines. These counterfeit doctrines, like counterfeit money, appear real at first glance. In order to expose them as false, Christians need to discern truth from falsehood, and the way to do this is by practicing spiritual discernment. Spiritual discernment is the skill of thinking biblically about life.
Believing that spiritual discernment is a skill that Christians should seek, Tim Challies, one of the most widely read Christian bloggers has written a book on this discipline. Although the subject is theological, it is written for the average person in the pew. The book is clear and simple to understand, teaching how to discern error rather than just compiling lists of dos and don’ts.
Challies begins his book by showing the reader the need to develop spiritual discernment and the folly of ignoring it. He discusses the challenges of being a discerning Christian in this day and age. Those who discern truth from error face great opposition from satanic forces and cultural influences. In chapter three, he defines spiritual discernment as the skill of understanding God’s Word with the purpose of separating truth from error. Challies teaches that Christians, empowered by the Spirit, are to strive to understand what is pleasing to God, through the Bible and then apply it to their lives. Once Challies has defined discernment he has the reader focus on its use. Spiritual discernment should be used to test everything associated with the Christian’s life, but its primary focus should be on what God teaches about Himself and how He calls us to live. Knowing God and His will for our lives will lead us to think right about Him and to avoid having a heart that is focused on the world. Discerning the will of God through His revealed Word should give us delight as we apply it to our lives.
In chapter seven, Challies discusses how spiritual discernment is one of the gifts of the Spirit that brings unity to the church as it is used in serving other Christians. While every Christian should strive to discern truth from error, some have been gifted specifically in this area and they should be using this gift in their local church to watch out for false doctrines that continually bombard its members. But Challies also warns his readers about the pitfalls of practicing discernment. It must be practiced with the proper motives and not become a tool of self glorification. It must not be wielded as a method of putting others down, but for the good of all Christians in love. The book finishes by describing the character of a believer who wishes to be discerning, and concludes with a step by step process that leads the reader through the practice of spiritual discernment.
Tim Challies has written an excellent book on a topic that has little written about it today. The evangelical church is rife with false doctrine, and this book fills a need in teaching Christians how to discern truth from error. The book is a must for every Christian to read and would make a great study for a Sunday School class or Bible study.