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The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment [Paperback]

By Tim Challies (Author) & John MacArthur (Foreword by)
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Item description for The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies & John MacArthur...

Scriptural principles are practically applied to help Christians not only develop and define day-to-day spiritual discernment but regard it as an essential practice.

Publishers Description

Spiritual discernment is good for more than just making monumental decisions according to God's will. It is an essential, day-to-day activity that allows thoughtful Christians to separate the truth of God from error and to distinguish right from wrong in all kinds of settings and situations. It is also a skill-something that any person can develop and improve, especially with the guidance in this book.

Written by a leading evangelical blogger, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment is an uplifting, scripturally grounded work that explains the need for discernment, its challenges, and the steps that will cultivate it. Author Tim Challies does not do the discerning for readers; he simply shows them how to practically apply scriptural tools, principles, and wisdom so that their conclusions about everything-people, teachings, decisions, media, and organizations-will be consistent with God's Word.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Crossway Books
Pages   206
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.56" Width: 5.76" Height: 0.47"
Weight:   0.56 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 2008
Publisher   Crossway Books/Good News
ISBN  1581349092  
ISBN13  9781581349092  

Availability  121 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 27, 2016 09:21.
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More About Tim Challies & John MacArthur

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Tim Challies (BA, McMaster University) is a self-employed web designer and a pioneer in the Christian blogosphere, having one of the most widely read and recognized Christian blogs, He is also the editor of, a site dedicated to offering thoughtful reviews of books that are of interest to Christians. Tim lives in Oakville, Ontario, with his wife, Aileen, and their three children.

John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, where he has served since 1969. He is known around the world for his verse-by-verse expository preaching and his pulpit ministry via his daily radio program, Grace to You. He has also written or edited nearly four hundred books and study guides. MacArthur serves as the president of the Master's College and Seminary. He and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four grown children.

Tim Challies currently resides in Oakville, Ontario. Tim Challies was born in 1976.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Discipline Of Spiritual Discernment?

Lots of underlines in this book!  Nov 23, 2008
I measure the value of a book by the number of valueable words of wisdom I underline during my reading. This great book is full of underlines! I have always understood that the path to great decisions begins with knowledge, applying that knowledge to gain experience, sorting out those experiences to gain wisdom but was confused as to how to take the wisdom a step further to discernment. Author Tim Challies fully answers that question in this terrific book. Discernment is wisdom in action, rooted in the understanding that there is good and bad, God's ways and all other ways. Discernment is sorting through wisdom to find God's way by calling on the Holy Spirit. Christians are famous for saying "I have a peace about my decision" or "God has opened the door for me to move". Yet Tim reminds Christians that an open door to something new does not relieve us of God's expectation that we take care of our family and finances.
Grow in Discernment  Nov 21, 2008
I was anxiously awaiting Tim Challies' new book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, for two reasons. First, the practice of spiritual discernment is near and dear to my heart. My entire ministry is essentially built upon the need for establishing and growing biblical discernment. Second, I have been a regular reader of Tim Challies' blog for several years now. Over this time, I have come to respect and trust him. God has truly blessed Challies and I placed an advance order for his book as soon as I could afford it. When the book was released, my wait finally ended. An autographed copy arrived at my door and I started reading it immediately.

Why was I so interested in getting started? Because I have rarely come across a book dedicated to spiritual discernment written for the average believer in the pew. Sure, as a seminary graduate I came across plenty of great works on hermeneutics, apologetics, and spiritual disciplines. But I generally could not see recommending them to fellow members of my local church. Challies book fills this unfortunate void.

His book is both incisive and readable. It covers everything from showing the need for spiritual discernment to assisting the reader in practicing discernment. But what exactly is spiritual discernment? Challies defines it this way:

"Discernment is the skill of understanding and applying God's Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong" (61).

Whether in how we live or what we believe, discernment is an essential aspect of every Christian's life. As the Apostle Paul instructs us, "test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).

Thankfully, Challies book helps us to carry out Paul's directions. And while its pages are filled with insight, I especially appreciate two chapters. The first is on the dangers of discernment. He's right to say that many people who seek to be discerning wind up practicing a counterfeit shadow of true, biblical discernment. The ten dangers he provides are ones that I have all too often struggled with, and I applaud the author for warning against them.

I also found his step-by-step method in the final chapter incredibly valuable. Not content to stop short of providing a practical approach to begin practicing spiritual discernment, Challies lays out a helpful plan to follow. We have to move beyond simply giving lip service to the importance of discernment--we have to make the effort to actually do it. Following this method allows the reader to start.

It is hard for me to hide my enthusiasm for this book. I believe every Christian seeking to be faithful to our Savior will benefit from its contents. May His body grow in discernment, transforming ourselves more and more by the renewal of our minds.

John Divito, Director
Africa Center for Apologetics Research
Our Culture Needs This Call for Discernment  Nov 19, 2008
As Challies notes a few times in his book, there isn't much work done in the area of Christian discernment, at least in the area of what the term means and what the practice looks like. But as he makes a solid biblical case for the importance of the concept, the need for this book is settled, and as we encounter our culture from day to day, the need for this book is heightened.

I found the flow and outline of the book helpful and easy to follow. Challies works on the biblical explanation of discernment and makes his way into producing a helpful definition of the concept. Each chapter deals with different aspects of the discipline of discernment, making it easy to digest his basic argument. Early on he argues that the spiritually mature are discerning, and that a lack of discernment is a sign of spiritual immaturity. It is a bold, if not black and white claim, but I think it is basically true. To behave more like Christ is, after all, the goal of following Him and learning of Him.

I especially appreciated his emphasis on theology, good Bible study practices, and the discipline of learning to think like Christ. There are streams of evangelical thought right now that would vociferously disagree with the need for solid, systematic theology, but they would be a good example of the lack of the gift of discernment. Their disagreement, I think, proves his case.

The book contained an inevitable chapter: discerning the will of God. Anyone who has worked as a Christian leader or pastor knows this is often the big question on most peoples' minds. Challies does a good job of helping to ground an issue that is often over spiritualized and made unnecessarily confusing. Given the theological presuppositions of the book, however (more than likely quite Reformed), the active role of the Holy Spirit was a little underplayed.

All in all, I thought this was a great pastoral book on an important specific issue. It comes with questions for reflection and discussion, and I agree that it would make a good book for a small group or for personal study and discipleship.
Tim Challies as an Example of Discernment  Oct 19, 2008
Discernment. The Church is in chaos because of a lack of it. Many believers have little patience for practicing it, cultivating it and putting it to use. Yet, we as Christians are called to practice this discipline. How to start? How to continue? How to evaluate our growth?

Tim Challies, the self-employed web designer and blogger extraordinaire is a man with a heart for discernment, and he believes we shouldn't leave the discipline to those who are in full-time ministry. We should all desire spiritual insight and wisdom.

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment (Crossway, 2007) contains almost 200 pages of helpful advice for the Christian leader or layperson who wants to succeed in the area of discernment. Challies begins by issuing a call to discernment, laying out the reasons why the absence of discernment can prove spiritually fatal and why the presence of discernment is a sign of spiritual life.

Challies challenges readers to actively pursue growth in spiritual discernment, which he defines as "the skill of understanding and applying God's Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong" (61). Challies answers common objections to discernment ("Isn't it wrong to judge?") and then makes a strong case for why we should think rightly about God. Challies believes that thinking rightly about God will help us think biblically about everything else.

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment contains several chapters that are extremely helpful for laypeople. In "The Will and Discernment," Challies exposes some of the incorrect ways Christians go about trying to discern God's will for their lives, and then he offers sound, biblical advice that frees Christians up to make choices within God's will and not stress over the details.

In "The Dangers of Discernment," Challies lists some common pitfalls that discerning Christians must avoid, including the tendency toward witch-hunting or oversimplification of the issues. The book ends with some practical steps for discernment with Challies using the lyrics of a Christian song as an example.

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment might be Tim Challies' first book, but Tim writes with the wisdom and insight that he has been cultivating for years. The fact that a book of this caliber could come from a person outside of full-time ministry is a testament to his devotion to the Word. It should be the goal of every pastor to make not only disciples, but discerning disciples and Tim Challies is an example of a disciple worthy of emulation.
Learn to Discern  Oct 12, 2008
There was a time when it was a virtue to be known as discerning and discriminating. That was before Political Correctness set in. Now in an age of relativism and postmodernism, a fraudulent form of tolerance has arisen. As a result, people are terrified of speaking out on anything, for fear of being accused of being intolerant, narrow-minded and dogmatic.

Sadder still, this foolish idea of tolerance has crept into the churches as well. Now many believers are actually claiming that Christians should not judge, should not rebuke, and should not claim to have the truth. Somehow we have come to believe that spiritual maturity has something to do with the suspension of judgment and the absence of critical discernment.

But Tim Challies argues that the exact opposite is the case: spiritually mature Christians are those who have learned the discipline of biblical discernment. Indeed, a lack of discernment results in spiritual immaturity, backsliding and worse.

Challies defines spiritual discernment as the "skill of understanding and applying God's word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong".

It is, in other words, thinking biblically about life. He argues that it is a practice, like prayer and Scripture reading, which must be developed and maintained. Without the discipline of spiritual discernment, we will be ineffective for service in the Kingdom.

Challies offers many texts to make his case. He begins with the prayer of King Solomon in which he asks God for "an understanding mind" to govern his people, and that he "may discern between good and evil". God was pleased with his request and granted it. Even today, we still speak about the wisdom of Solomon.

Of course Jesus had to upbraid his disciples for not being understanding, or discerning (Mark 8:17-21). The New Testament writers make much of this theme. In Eph. 5:10 Paul says we should "discern what is pleasing to the Lord".

In Heb. 5:11-14 we are told that spiritual maturity comes when believers "have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good form evil". Challies reminds us that the Hebrew Christians were not new believers, and they should have known better. But they were still stuck on the milk of the Word, and not able to handle strong meat.

Sound theology, in other words, is part of what makes for mature believers. We need to study the Word and distinguish truth from error, right from wrong. But many in the church today look down on theology, denigrate doctrine, celebrate doubt and rubbish the mind. That is a recipe for disaster says Challies.

Developing biblical discernment is part of the way in which we develop a biblical worldview. Unfortunately a secular worldview is far too often prevalent in the churches. Many believers have latched onto false notions of tolerance, have downplayed doctrine, have rejected the idea of truth, and have embraced the values of the world.

When believers stop thinking Christianly, their thoughts and values do not remain in neutral: they end up absorbing the beliefs, values and practices of the surrounding secular culture. We end up believing and acting pretty much like everyone else does.

Indeed, researchers such as George Barna have documented the loss of a biblical worldview, and the resultant loss of character and biblical lifestyle. This is why spiritual discernment is so important.

Spiritual maturity, brought on by biblical discernment, will help us live lives of integrity and sound character, and will help preserve the gospel from error and deception. Both are vitally important.

Challies discusses the importance of judging, and looks at passages which seem to forbid it, such as Matt. 7:1. He rightly notes that hypocritical judgment is what Jesus warns against here. Challies examines the various passages that urge us to test all things and to discern, evaluate and assess.

He further discusses such things as the gift of discernment, the dangers of discernment, the development and practice of discernment, and the discipline of discernment. Thus this volume is a practical and level-headed look at a much needed spiritual resource.

We have plenty of books on the discipline of prayer, bible reading, fasting, and so on. But the area of Christian worldview and biblical discernment is not usually associated with such topics. But these disciplines all go together, resulting in spiritual growth and maturity.

Challies is to be praised for drawing to our attention the pressing need for spiritual discernment, and how it may be achieved.

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