In his sermon "Did God Promise Health and Wealth?", Pastor Phil Johnson looks at the duty of Christians to use discernment regarding the false teachings of the leaders in today's evangelical movement. I took limited, paraphrased notes of Mr. Johnson's ideas as I listened. I'm sharing my notes and personal thoughts below. The Scripture verses included are from Mr. Johnson (but quoted from the King James Bible).
Mr. Johnson says that it is the job of all Christians to test the truth claims of our evangelical leaders because Jesus warned us that many shall come in His name and deceive many (Matt. 24:5). In Acts 20:29 Paul warns the elders of Ephesus that grievous wolves will enter in among them. Therefore, Christians need discernment to keep the church faithful to biblical doctrine so that false apostles who transform themselves into apostles of Christ (2 Cor. 11:13) are exposed.
We see several verses in the Bible which call for discernment and judgment. Jesus exhorts Christians to beware of false prophets and judge them by their fruits (Matt. 7:15-16); the fruit that we judge is their teaching, not the results of their teaching. The book of Jude and 2 Peter 2 also warn us that there are false prophets among the people. Finally, Paul tells us that if any man preaches another gospel, let him be accursed (Gal. 1:8-9).
But what about Matt. 7:1? This verse says: "Judge not, that ye be not judged."
I've thought about this verse while writing my blog series on C.S. Lewis, and the question naturally arises of whether or not I should be judging Mr. Lewis's biblical views. Obviously, I think that I should, and based on his sermon, Phil Johnson agrees.
Mr. Johnson explains that Matt. 7:1 is telling us not to judge unfairly or unrighteously. Christians should examine doctrine with a critical mind. The 'judge not' admonition involves judging people's hearts and drawing conclusions about motives, thoughts, or intentions. Christians should not judge what they can't see because they can't righteously judge what they can't examine or understand. But, judgment is absolutely essential regarding the quality and orthodoxy of the biblical doctrine being taught or any teaching that goes beyond Scripture. Christians cannot detect wolves in sheep's clothing (Matt. 7:15) if it is unrighteous to make any judgment at all. In John 7:24, Jesus tells us to "Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment."
As a Protestant, Mr. Lewis wrote many books on Christian topics and was well-known as a Christian apologist. His writings continue to be endorsed and promoted as "must read" Christian literature. Therefore, the beliefs of C.S. Lewis should be held up to the light of Scripture. If you haven't done so, you can read my first post on Mr. Lewis here.
"These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so," (Acts 17:11).