Why Discernment Ministries Fail (and Succeed) (2)

flock guardian dog 12 

 Grant Swart

This is the second installment of “Why Discernment Ministries Fail (and Succeed)”, Part 1 of which I published a year ago, almost to the day. Rather than repeating much of that which I wrote before, may I suggest that you refer to Part 1 here: Why Discernment Ministries Fail (and Succeed) (1), if you are interested in this subject, and have not previously done so. In Part 1 I attempted to establish the groundwork for bringing this installment into perspective, and it should provide an evenhanded and fair approach to the subject. A modern phenomenon, few ministries which place themselves under the banner of “discernment” have Biblically principled intent or calling, and the trend has in a very short period of time, drifted completely out of alignment with Christianity.

Regrettable and diverse are the failures of an overabundance of internet based “discernment” ministries, websites and blogspots, radio and television programs, publications, documentary films, etc. Frequently, these self-appointed and so-called discernment ministries are highly visible, easily accessible and present themselves as representatives of the truth. Often they regard themselves as whistle-blowers tasked with identifying threats to their specific brand of religion, “exposing” perceived falsehoods and acting as guardians of the Christian faith. Many of these “ministries” are the creations of self-appointed “watchmen” who claim to possess divine inspiration for their fake discernment abilities, which purportedly surpass those of the average Christian. In addition, these “watchmen” defend their position, which by the very nature of their ministries cannot be regarded as biblical, with an aggressive fervour which resembles religious and occult fanaticism.

The all too evident failure of the vast majority of these so-called “discernment” ministries, is in no small measure due to the fact that they are not founded on biblical prescripts, neither do they consistently accept or proclaim biblical doctrines. The reason for the rare success of a small minority of others is simple: they are not “discernment” ministries per se, they are truly Christian ministries in as much as they are led by heaven sent shepherds, true servants of the church, watchmen who have been appointed by God. (link here to Heaven Sent Preachers and Man Made Preachers – There is a Difference )

Isa 52:7-8  How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” The voice of your watchmen–they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion.

From this passage in Isaiah, read in conjunction with Romans 10:15, we understand that it speaks of true Gospel preachers and teachers. The Spirit of God describes all true Gospel preachers as watchmen. Continue reading

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Some Important Questions To Ask About ” Discernment Ministries “

Discernment ministries

How to Discern : What of the Watchmen? 

Here are some important questions to ask about discernment ministries:

What attitude do they display? Is it one of arrogance and pride and do they feel that they are better than those poor heretics over there? Or do they genuinely mourn and weep over the state of the church? Do they speak with humility and grace, recognizing that it is only the grace of God that has kept them? Do they feel that they are superior to everyone else and God’s only remnant? (The series “Contentiously Contending” deal with this in more detail see below.)

Who are the faces behind that particular ministry? What are their personal lives like? Do they have a history of serving the churches and standing for truth? Are they in fellowship with other believers and ministries and do they serve a local church or are they loose cannons?

What is their motive? Is it revenge, profit, fame and importance? Or is it love for the Lord, His Word and His People? (The previous article “Who’s Who?” applies as much to discernment ministries as to preachers.)  Continue reading

How to Discern : What of the Watchmen? (Part 6/6)

Ephesians 6:10-18 ~  

 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (11) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (13) Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (14) Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (15) and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. (16) In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; (17) and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, (18) praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (ESV)

By Pastor Anton Bosch 

What of the Watchmen?  (Part  6/6)

Each believer has responsibility for himself to be on the lookout for error and deception (Revelation 3:11). The Lord has also set the elders in the local church with the duty to watch for wolves who would seek to attack the flock (Acts 20:28-30).

In these last days error is multiplying and spreading faster than the average believer or shepherd can track. Every day brings some new heresy, and modern electronic media and world travel has resulted in new heresies spreading across the globe within hours of being hatched. Often these teachings are so cleverly disguised that it literally takes a specialist to recognize them and to formulate a defense against them.

As a result the Lord has raised up a special group of people who have been uniquely gifted and prepared to act as watchmen to the churches. When Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, the attacks were so incessant that in addition to every man carrying his sword whilst building (Nehemiah 4:17-18), a select group was tasked with looking out for the enemy (Nehemiah 4:9, 16). As a shepherd in a local church, it would be impossible for me to fulfill my duties and keep track of the many new errors that arise almost daily. I am therefore very grateful for those who have dedicated themselves to the work of monitoring, researching, warning and formulating answers to the many winds of false doctrine of our time. Continue reading

How to Discern : Who’s Who? (Part 5/6)

Acts 17:11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

By Pastor Anton Bosch 

Who’s Who?  (Part  5/6)

It is important that we check every word we hear or read against the plumbline of the Bible. In addition, we need to check the source of the information as well. We must check two things: The message and the man.

Many times we will hear messages that sound spot-on, and may even be doctrinally correct, but the speaker is a deceiver. Remember, the Devil will present truth in order to get you on his hook. No Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness will knock on your door and begin the conversation by saying that they have come to present another Gospel and another Jesus. They all begin by affirming that they believe exactly what you believe. The problem is that by the time they get around to the lie it is often too late. Our only defense is not to listen to a single word from someone we have not checked out thoroughly first. Mormons and JWs are easy to recognize by their outward appearance. But how do we recognize someone who appears to be an evangelical, Bible believing preacher? Here are a few hints:

First, who is he and where does he come from? In other words who does he relate to and who has influenced his thinking? This can easily be established from his bio, personal history or curriculum vitae. Where did he train? Where does he fellowship? Who is he in relationship with? Who does he quote? Who quotes him? If he has a website, look at the other sites he provides links to. These questions will often reveal a lot about the messenger. Obviously, he may have had bad connections in the past and may have repented. If he has repented from former evil associations, has he publicly repudiated those links and doctrines and broken fellowship with them? If he has, his past should not be held against him; but, at the same time, some of those influences may continue to taint his thinking and one should be on the alert for signs thereof. “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1Corinthians 15:33) and a man can be known by the friends he keeps. Continue reading

How to Discern : Check, Check and Check Again (Part4/6)

By Pastor Anton Bosch 

Check, Check and Check Again (Part4/6)

This is a principle that holds true in most areas in life. Carpenters speak about measuring twice and cutting once. We teach our children that when they cross the street they must look left, look right and look left again. And when it comes to our faith we must be even more careful and check everything we hear.

1Thessalonians 5:21 says: “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” In other words, not everything is good and can be trusted, so everything must be tested first. The noble-minded Bereans even subjected Paul’s teaching to scrutiny and they were commended for doing so (Acts 17:11).

We live in dangerous times and the world is filled with deceivers, false prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing and heretics. Those who preach the Truth are a small minority while the false apostles wield massive budgets with which they dominate every form of media. No matter whether you listen to “Christian” radio, watch “Christian” television look at “Christian” websites or enter a “Christian” bookstore, the odds are stacked against the possibility that you will be exposed to truth. Yet every day thousands are deceived into believing anything that is sold under the banner of “Christian.” Continue reading

How to Discern : How to Smell a Rat (Part 1 /6)

By Pastor Anton Bosch 

 How to Smell a Rat (Part 1 /6)

A toddler will eat anything. It does not matter if it is nutritious or poison, it has no ability to discern between food and poison.

As Christians mature in the faith they should learn to discern between spiritual poison and spiritual food. “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). The problem is that the vast majority of modern-day “Christians” are either not born again or have been kept in a perpetual state of babyhood and thus are unable to discern the difference between truth and error. Because of this, and because we have a new generation of church-goers who do not know the Bible, false teachers have multiplied and millions believe anything these preachers say.

Discriminating between truth and error is really not that difficult as long as we abide by a few basic principles. The first of these is that truth is absolute. I use the term “absolute” as the opposite of “relative”. For most people – Christian and non-Christian – truth is relative. We hear: Continue reading

Contentiously Contending

By Anton Bosch 

Pastor Bosch explains why he wrote these articles in his Foreword:

I wrote the articles in response to several decades of participation with, and observation of, many apologetic or discernment type ministries. While I see a great need for watchmen who will faithfully sound the alarm at the attacks of the enemy, I also see the need for those involved in this vital ministry to go about this work in a godly way.

I am deeply concerned that many who involve themselves in these ministries do so for the wrong reasons and/or with the wrong attitude. In the process they cause more damage than the very error they are trying to correct.

My intention with these humble words is not to discredit or discourage those who sound the alarm, but to exhort such to use the right methods, with the right attitude. I also wish to warn those believers who have become aware of the great deception going on in the Church that a wrong attitude is just as erroneous as wrong doctrine. It does not help if we have our doctrine straight but our attitude does not accord with the Spirit of Christ.  Continue reading