Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Discipline of Discernment, Chapter 1 (Study Notes)


[Tomorrow, I begin leading a study of Tim Challies' Discipline of Spiritual Discernment in my Sunday school class at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. Below are my teaching notes. For the Sunday school class, I am focusing on the Scripture passages discussed in Challies' book. Page numbers in brackets refer to pages from the book where I have certain passages marked to read.]


Chapter 1: A Call to Discernment

I. Intro.: Solomon’s Request for Discernment

A. I Kings 3:6-9

1. Solomon’s humility: “I am but a little child.”

2. Solomon’s request: 1 Kings 3:9a.

3. 1 Kings 3:9: “understanding mind” (ESV) [“understanding heart” (KJV)]= “listening heart.”

4. The LORD reiterates and answers Solomon’s request: 1 Kings 3:11-12.

B. Psalm 72:1-4

II. The Curses That Accompany a Lack of Discernment:

A. Lack of Discernment Is Proof of Spiritual Immaturity (Heb 5:11-12a)

1. “About this we have much to say:” There is much the author of Hebrews would like to impart, and much the Hebrew Christians need to learn.

2. “And it is hard to explain:” The ‘hardness’ does not arise from the subject matter being obscure or difficult to understand.

3. “Become:” The Hebrew Christians are not “dull of hearing” due to their nature [the Christians who are being addressed have received a new nature], rather they have drifted away and have become dull of hearing.

4. “Dull of hearing:” The reason that the Hebrew Christians cannot receive in-depth teaching is not due to intellectual inferiority, but due to a spiritual lack.

5. “For though by this time:” The Hebrew Christians were not brand-new believers.

6. “You ought to be teachers:” Not necessarily pastors, but sufficient to explain to others the basics of the faith.

7. “You need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God:” The Hebrew Christians are not exercising a childlike (i.e., humble and trusting) faith, but a childish (i.e., immature) faith.

B. Lack of Discernment Is Proof of Backsliding (Heb 5:12b-14)

1. “You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child:” The picture is one of an unnaturally prolonged childhood; a child past infancy who could not handle sustenance other than milk alone would be weak and sickly.

2. “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil:” The “solid food” of more in-depth teaching is a long way off for the Hebrew Christians; they must engage in “constant practice” to train their “powers of discernment.”

C. Lack of Discernment Is Proof of Spiritual Death

1. Rom 1:28-32: focus on “foolish” [NKJV and HCSB, “undiscerning”] from Rom 1:31. [This word, asunetous, originally meant “uncompounded” in Classical Greek, and by the time of Koine Greek it was being used to mean “simple” as in “simple-minded,” hence “foolish.”]

2. 1 Cor 2:14: The “natural person” has a spiritual inability to practice discernment regarding the things of God.

[page 27]

III. Discernment Is Proof of Spiritual Life

A. Proverbs 9:10. “Insight”= “Discernment”

B. Ephesians 5:8-10. “Walk as children of light… proving what is well-pleasing to the Lord” [my translation]. In this passage, Paul commands the Ephesian church to “walk as children of light.” How are the Ephesians to do this? Basically, by practicing discernment. This command is given to those who were formerly darkness, but now have been made light in the Lord.

IV. Discernment Is Proof of Spiritual Growth

A. Mark 8:17-21. “Jesus scolded the disciples for not understanding, or discerning, what this miracle [the feeding of the multitude] pointed to [i.e., who Jesus is, what He would accomplish, and— in context— the fact that His Father would provide for His needs and the needs of His followers unto the accomplishment of that mission].”

B. Matthew 13:16-17. “In this case he commended his disciples for exhibiting a level of spiritual maturity.”

V. Discernment Is Proof of Spiritual Maturity (Heb 5:14)

[page 30]

VI. The Deposit [i.e., the deposit of the gospel message, pages 32-34]

A. 1 Tim 6:20.

B. 2 Tim 1:14.

VII. The Call (Prov 2:1-5)

A. “We are to incline our hearts to discernment and cry out for it.”

B. “Proverbs 2 is a father’s call to his son to embrace and treasure discernment.”

VIII. Key Thought [page 35]

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