Essential Bible Studies

Discerning the Spirits

March 8, 2021

How did Christians living in the first century know what was true and what should be included in the Bible? How can we be confident what is in the Bible is what is supposed to be there? The answer is in the Bible. Jay Mayock and Tim Young discuss the role of prophets and how the Holy Spirit gifts of the first century were used to test the prophet's words to be true or false. This essential Bible study brings us confidence in the Bible as the word of God and provides the tools to reject false doctrines.

Theme Verse – 2 Timothy 2:15

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

Show Outline:

The Gospel of Judas

  • A copy was found that is 1700 years old
  • Released in 2006 (National Geographic published an article)
  • Reverses the role of Judas, vindicates him as the one who understood Jesus
  • There were lots of ‘false gospels’ circulated in the early days of Christianity
  • How did first century Christians know what was really the word of God?

The Role of Prophets

  • Both foretelling and forthtelling the word of God – lexicons and context
  • True vs. False prophets (18:20-22)
  • Jeremiah vs. Hananiah (28:2-4, 10-11)
  • Agabus (Acts 11:27-30)

Prophecy: One of the Spirit Gifts

  • Prophets were one of the most important gifts (3:5)
  • The whole point of the gifts was to build up the whole ecclesia (4:11-16)
  • All members had to work together to help each other
  • Specifically, prophets had to work together with ‘provers’

Authenticating the Word – An Ecclesial Work

  • Context #1 – Spirit, prophecy, discerning, spiritual good for all (1 Cor. 12:4,10,7)
  • Context #2 – Spirit, prophecy, weighing, spiritual learning and encouragement for all (1 Cor. 14:12,29,31)
  • Context #3 – Spirit, prophecy, testing, holding fast to good (1 Thes. 5:19-21)
  • Counterfeit messages! (2 Thes. 2:2; 1 John 4:1; Rev. 2:2)
  • The church, ecclesia, need to work together to develop the unity of the faith
  • They did attain it, because the gifts were withdrawn! (4:13-14)

Lessons for Us Today

  • The prophets’ words were confirmed in part through the accuracy of their predictions, and also by those who had the gift to discern, weigh the spirits.
  • The gifts of the Holy Spirit were withdrawn after the ecclesias attained unity in the faith.
  • ‘False’ gospels do not undermine our NT.
  • Now that we have received the word of God from the prophets, we must test any teaching with that word. In short, we must: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”  (2 Tim. 2:15)

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