Refining Your (Theological) Palate


Lately myself, my wife, and several folks from the church have been drinking a lot of coffee. I mean a lot of coffee. There seems to be this trend going around for specialty coffee that has taken hold of our local church and the Southern California community. I wouldn’t call it addictive or unhealthy, but it is definitely something that is making an imprint.

Part of what makes this coffee craze so captivating is the varying flavor profiles that coffee can carry. Coffee, depending on where it’s grown (origin and elevation) can be very diverse in flavor. Then, these characteristics can be even more complicated when blended with one another. Needless to say the more coffee you drink the more your palate should be able to pick up on these nuances.

This ability to discern and appreciate a coffee for all its variances is a great parallel illustration of how the Christian should be with doctrine. We live in a world where publication is clicks away on a cell phone via blogs or social media. There is just so much content that surrounds us that is easily accessible. It would be safe to say that there is more content in this world than flavor profiles of coffee.

This is why Christians must be all the more committed to refining their theological palate. Christians should be able to know the truth so well that anything sour, contaminated, or dangerous would be identified and discarded before digesting.

The Bible places discernment as a priority for the believer (Phil 1:9-11; 1 Thess 5:21-22). Doctrine is necessary for a discerning lifestyle. Don’t let anyone tell you that commitment to sound and refined doctrine is wasted effort. A proper and healthy pursuit of Christian doctrine developed the maturity of the Saint. But how does a person develop discernment? I’d like to make a few practical suggestions for boosting Christian discernment.

  1. Read and Re-read Your Bible (Then Repeat). The best way to grow in discernment is to immerse yourself in the Bible. The Word of God gives wisdom and knowledge to the believer. There is no more important factor in growing your discernment than merely reading the Scriptures.
  1. Utilize Your local Church’s Ministry. Every local church should have avenues to foster a believer’s growth in Scripture. These avenues can range from one-on-one discipleship to attending a Bible institute. Attend a regional Bible study, Sunday Schools/seminars, or join a small group that will cover content that will stretch and grow your discernment.
  1. Learn from Proven Saints. As a believer, you should be surrounded by more mature believers. These believers should be able to point you towards authors, preachers, or ministries that have produced materials that have led to their spiritual growth. Ask and learn from these saints.
  1. Trust and Obey. The wisdom of man and the wisdom of God don’t always alight. Often times they are even at odds with one another. Therefore, upon gaining the knowledge and wisdom of Scripture and the discernment that it gives trust that it is for your good (even the world says otherwise). For example, it is good to stay sexually pure before marriage, it is good to live sacrificially (with all your resources such as time and money), and it is good to value the life of the unborn. These are just a few examples of some obvious areas where the world has tension with the Word. There are countless other examples and the believer must trust and obey God’s Word and understand how such an attitude brings about unspeakable joy in life.

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