dord (dôrd), n. density of mind; chiefly exhibited by one who attempts to demonstrate supposed knowledge --adj. dord'ish


Reviewing Humble Orthodoxy, Week 9

Title: Discern Your Doctrine
Speaker: Mark Dever
Session: Main Session #2, Na07
Date: May 27, 2007

Main Texts
John 17 & 2 John 10-11

Some Opening Thoughts
Not are doctrinal differences are equal. How do we tell the difference between what is compromise and what is cooperation? How do we discern between primary doctrines that we need to contend for, and secondary doctrines where we can work with each other, despite our differences? Read on. Listen in.

A Brief Outline
Six questions to ask ourselves:
1. Do we follow commands to purify or to unite?
–> We have a tendency to be either too inclusive or too exclusive, to become either a “unity person” or a “purity person.” But we don’t want to play off one aspect of God’s character (His love) with another (His holiness).
–> “Unity people” love John 17. Purity people love 2 John 10-11. How do we take the best of both of these—the unity and the purity that we are commanded in the Bible?
2. What are some common fights that Christians have?
–> Dever listed many. I’m sure you have thought of several already.
3. What are we together for?
–> Before we say, “who do we need to cooperate with?” we need to ask, “what does cooperation mean?”
–> A much higher level of agreement is needed to be members of the same church than to cooperate together in certain events.
4. What must we agree upon?
–> What are the basics, the essentials? (We don’t want to ask this in a “what’s the least I can believe?” manner.)
–> Christian fellowship can only be shared by those who share the Christian faith.
–> Examples of disagreements: disagreements about church membership is not as important as disagreements about who Jesus Christ is.
–> Certain doctrines can go awry, and a person can still bear fruit as a Christian.
5. What may we disagree about?
–> We are not getting permission on how little of God’s Word we can try to get away with obeying; rather we want to see how much we can cooperate.
–> We can work together with another Christian so long as those things that we disagree on won’t prove to be a distraction to our cooperation.
6. How can we disagree well?
–> In essentials unity. In nonessentials diversity. In all things charity.
–> What do I owe the person who differs from me? Love (Ephesians 4:15), respect (Matthew 7:12).
–> When you’re in disagreement, make it evident that you care about them more than you simply care about winning an argument.
–> Consider what goals you share. What is your aim in your conversation?
–> What can I learn from the person I’m differing with?
–> It is good to have Christians friends that disagree with us on some things. It gives us opportunity to display love and to center on the cross.
–> We want to be known more for what we are for rather than what we are against. We want to be known as being for the Gospel.

Other Points
Three ways to discern
1. Through the Bible
–> We learn the truth fundamentally, supremely, finally, and mostly through the Bible.
–> Get to know God’s word; grow in your understanding of it and your love for it.
2. Through our church
–> God does not intend us to be earthly orphans. He has called us to be in local churches that preach the truth well and faithfully, among a people who are growing in godliness.
3. Through our conscience
–> Each of us has a conscience, but because of the fall our consciences are also fallen.
–> We have an inherent sense of right and wrong, but the conscience is inherent, not inerrant.

A four-fold test of a doctrine:
1. How clear is it in Scripture?
2. How clear do others think that it is in Scripture?
3. How near is it (and its implications) to the Gospel?
4. What would the effects be of allowing disagreement in this area?

Doctrines: The essential of the essentials:
1. God
–> We have to believe in the One True God.
2. The Bible
–> If we tell an unbeliever something about God, who knows what they are thinking about. So how do we know the truth about God? He has revealed Himself in the Bible.
3. Gospel
–> Of first importance (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
–> Most fundamentally, a Christian is one who believes this Gospel.

Some Application Questions
–> Do I tend to be a “unity person” or a “purity person”? How can I grow in the other area?
–> Do you feel uncomfortable prioritizing some truths above other truths? (Paul didn’t, see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
–> Do I look for ways to learn from people that I differ with, or do I tend to discount everything they say?
–> Do I care more about the truth than I do about “winning the argument”?
–> Is it evident that I care more about the truth than I do about “winning the argument”?

One Thing That Has Stuck With Me
Probably the tension between unity and purity. We need both, but we tend to emphasize one and neglect the other.

One Thing I Re-learned By Re-listening
I didn’t do very well remembering his specific points. I’d especially like to be able to recall his four-fold test of doctrinal importance, and re-listening to this message has been helpful in that area.

–> What are one or two things that you learned in listening to this teaching?
–> If you were re-listening to it, what are some ways that God has used this teaching in your life over the last two years?
–> Also, feel free to give suggestions on the focus and format of these posts.
–> Finally, as great as it is to be able to talk about this online, talk about it personally with people you know. Use it as an opportunity to share with each other what God is teaching you, and how He has given (and is giving) you the grace to apply it.

This was Week 9 in the fifteen weeks of reviewing humble orthodoxy, leading up to New Attitude 2008 in Louisville, Kentucky on May 24-27. Listen to “Discern Your Doctrine” for free.

Next Week: Discern Your Culture (Al Mohler)

Background on this series: Humble Orthodoxy



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