The following was written by David Backus
Copyright The Free Believers Network 2011
I can usually spot them. It’s my job as I contribute my portion of the work to the Body of Christ. They are sometimes outcasts. Sometimes they are quiet and introverted. Other times they are more outspoken and abrasive. Either way, they are misunderstood. Usually, if they don’t want to be removed from their local church group, they conform, grudgingly and brood quietly. Many aren’t aware of why.
Often they get accused of being unteachable or unsubmissive to authority and being headstrong. The problem is, many times even they don’t recognize why or what they have. Usually these people’s hearts get crushed early on in the institutional church system.
I am speaking, of course, of those with the spiritual gift of discernment. This specific gift doesn’t get a lot of limelight and exploitation like the more powerful gifts. It is usually a threat to most pastors and it is more difficult to manipulate and control.
This is one of the biggest population of people in churches that get their share of spiritual and religious abuse. Either they conform to the all-knowing constraints of their pastors, or they get swept under the carpet, or booted out. Their warnings about error taking hold in the church often go ignored and usually such people aren’t given a position of leadership or to even speak in the average church setting.
I like to call the gift of discernment the twin gift of prophecy. People who are prophets or who work closely with prophets possess this gift as well. It complements and tempers the prophetic gift nicely.
The discerner is the watchman in the late hours of the night. They constantly scan the horizon for possible danger. They watch closely and carefully with a highly critical mind, for anything that might damage or lead the church away from the truth of the things of God.
If I were to liken the discerner to a part of the body of Christ it would be the immune system. They are the body’s defense system against viral lies that would infiltrate His people.
Unfortunately, due to religious pride, financial corruption and desire for power and control, religious abuse, or even the more passive aggressive church communities have rejected this crucial part of the body, rendering it vulnerable to the lies of the enemy.
Usually discerners don’t get along well with the pastor who doesn’t understand the gift and insists on running the show. They also don’t get along well with the “be nice and don’t judge” mentality of the average church attender. Often, discerners get accused of being judgmental, overly critical, or even arrogant.
I would offer comfort here though, there is an entire book of the Bible dedicated to the discerner. It is most often overlooked and poorly understood. It is one of my favorites, the book of 1 John. I take deep comfort in this book and other passages in the Bible which reaffirm this gift in me.
To the pastor or the observant church member, I say this. Look for the ones who usually are considered and labeled rebels. They don’t fit in, they don’t play nice with the status quo. They sometimes have a chip on their shoulder, they usually complain about the way things are and can tend to be overly critical. Look for the loner who is in the group, but never at complete harmony with it. Also look for the one who drives you crazy with their being “unteachable” and “unsubmissive.” Chances are, they have the gift of discernment, even if it is undeveloped and not brought under the control of the Holy Spirit and His Love.
To the Discerner: If this blog describes you, make sure you are submerged in love for people. Use your gift based on love. My gift of discernment became the most effective when I learned that God is love, and I asked God for the gift of seeing the world, especially the Church through His eyes.
As with all spiritual gifts, it needs to spring out of God’s flame of love for others deep inside of you. Fall deeply in love with people before operating in this gift. When you love people, you will never go wrong. And things can go awry when love is withheld and selfish motives are the root.
The following is an excerpt about Bethel Church from The Slowly Boiled Frog by David Cary Hart:
What the folks at Bethel don’t seem to get is that they are embracing a form of conversion therapy that is at odds with every mainstream medical and counseling peer organization. “Professionally-guided” conversion therapy is an oxymoron.
While I was at it, an exploration of Bethel Church was in order. The operation, run like a commercial enterprise, consumes a staggering amount of tax-deducted dollars. Receipts and expenditures are a secret known only to highly compensated church leadership.
Bethel Church’s website screams “cult” — very similar in tone to Scientology or the Unification Church (Moonies). It is a massive operation, structurally and financially. They claim to have missionaries around the globe. The church operates out of a $100 million campus in Redding, CA. They have a television network and world-class video conferencing facilities. Several church members are on the Redding city council. Last year, the church donated $500,000 to the city and shortly thereafter received approval for a new campus in spite of dozens of formally submitted citizen concerns… READ MORE.
The above helpful article was found on the American Association of Christian Counselors’ website. Enjoy!
Hello! Please note that I have finally added a “follow” button to the right side of this page (that is, if you find these articles educational and would like to subscribe).
The inventors of sozo have named it this, claiming they know the Greek meaning. Whenever an individual says they know the “Greek” origin of a word, they (can) sound like they know just what they are talking about! Perhaps this makes them look more competent and that they have done their research. Many manipulative teachers carry out this tactic these days (claim to know the Greek language and origin of words) in order to trick their followers into thinking that they are intelligent and trustworthy.
The irony in all this is that the word sozo from the Greek origin (Strong’s Concordance number 4982) literally does mean to “save, heal, preserve or rescue; to deliver out of danger and into safety” – but this is referring to saving from danger, and that includes the false, deceptive, dangerous practices like sozo and their teachers. This is one of the dangers the Bible is warning about (see also 2 John 1:11, etc)!
Here is what Jude explains in his letter…
“And others save [sozo 4982] with fear, pulling them out of the fire…” (Jude 1:23)
What was the purpose of the letter Jude wrote? He was trying to warn and hopefully sozo the people from the false teachers’ tactics (vs. 4).
He urged people to “contend for the faith” (vs. 3) and warns of these “certain men” (vs. 4).
They were men who were greedy for profit (vs. 11). He even calls them “brute beasts” (irrational animals). They “flattered people to gain advantage” (vs. 16). I know that doesn’t sound very nice or “loving”, but he was looking out for the innocent people and their well being. That was loving.
Jude then tells his hearers to “save (sozo) with fear, pulling them out of the fire”.
“We must watch over one another; faithfully…” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Jude 1:23)
Why do you think Jude, the brother of James, saw so much danger with false teachers and their practices? Was he overreacting? Do you think it was brave of him to speak up despite it being “negative”? Do you see the irony in the name sozo? Do you think this was done on purpose to confuse people into thinking that they need sozo? Do you think certain institutions can be very tricky and deceptive?
It is ironic that the sozo teachers promise people liberty and freedom, when truly people need to be set free from this practice.
“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” 2 Peter 2:19
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Cor. 11:13-15
In His Love.
Check out this interview!
“This is an interview I did nearly three years ago. Many people have said it was helpful, so I wanted to reblog it. Blessings, and peace in the name of Jesus as you continue to search for His truth!” (M’Kayla)