Application via exhortation is an important aspect of expository preaching. One of the great challenges in preaching is trying to manage your time. I rarely have enough time to say all that I want to say on a given passage. One of the things i try and do from time to time is provide “application handouts” for my congregation. These handouts typically go along with the morning message but sometimes highlight areas that i don’t have time to go into in great depth.
Here is one such example.
The Discerning Church: Ephesus
There are two levels of biblical discernment needed to maintain a vibrant Christian walk and a healthy Christian church.
One is the ability to discern error or half truth, especially when it is being presented as truth. First level discernment is needed to protect and preserve the purity of the Christian gospel (note Galatians 1, Jude 3, 2 John 7-11, Matthew 7:15-16, Acts 20:27-32, Romans 12:9, 1 Tim 6:20). “Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth.” “Discernment is the skill of understanding and applying God’s Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong.” Study the example of the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:2-3, 6.
The following list includes some recommended books that deal with this 1st level area of biblical discernment. Books that defend the gospel against various heresies and cults:
The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin
Spirit Wars by Peter Jones
Is the Mormon My Brother? by James R. White
The Roman Catholic Controversy by James R. White.
The Future of Justification: by John Piper
The second level of biblical discernment is the ability to distinguish between ok, better, and best. In other words, just because something isn’t rank heresy doesn’t mean that it should be accepted hook, line, and sinker. With that said, the Bible forbids hypocritical judging (Matt 7) or judging another person’s thoughts and motives (Prov. 16:2, 1 Cor 4:5). But God does want us to examine everythingcarefully (note 1 Thess. 5:21-22) and to test everything against the Divine standard, God’s Word. Study the example of the Bereans in Acts 17:11.
The following list includes some recommended books that deal with this 2nd level area of biblical discernment.
The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies
Fool’s Gold? Discerning Truth in an Age of Error by multiple authors
Charismatic Chaos by John MacArthur
Church on the Rise: Why I Am Not a “Purpose Driven” Pastorby Larry DeBruyn
Jesus Christ: Self Denial or Self Esteem? By David Tyler
Will Medicine Stop the Pain?By Elyse Fitzpatrick & Laura Hendrickson
The following list includes some recommended websitesthat often include discerning articles and blog posts.