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Basic Biblical Principles of Discernment

Discernment Principle 3: Scrutinize for Sound Doctrine

Is this teaching, practice, or manifestation consistent with sound biblical theology, interpretation, and/or practice? Scripture itself gives us three guidelines:

Is it accurate use of Scripture? Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). Yes—green light; maybe—blinking yellow light; no—red light.

Paul Volkmer

Is it sound teaching in agreement with what Christ taught? “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 Tim 6:3). Yes—green light; maybe—blinking yellow light; no—red light.

Is it in accord with Apostolic Traditions—teachings handed down from the apostles? “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us” (2 Thess 2:15). (See also 2 Thess 3:6 and 1 Cor 11:2). Yes—green light; maybe—blinking yellow light; no—red light.

These are not human traditions (which Jesus opposed), but the apostolic teaching handed down by Paul and the other apostles and New Testament writers. These traditions include: the deity and humanity of Christ, the Trinity, salvation by grace through faith, the atoning death of Christ, the virgin birth, the resurrection of Christ, the authority of Scripture, heaven and hell. Therefore, we must ask the questions of such teaching, practices or manifestations:

  • Does it compromise the deity or humanity of Christ?
  • Does it negate the Triune Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
  • Does it make salvation by works or a mixture of faith and works?
  • Does it compromise the atoning blood of Christ?
  • Does it compromise the resurrection of Christ?
  • Does it compromise the authority of Scripture?
  • Does it compromise the reality of heaven and hell?

If the answer is “yes” to any of these, it is an automatic red light.


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Category: Biblical Studies, Summer 2019

About the Author: Paul L. King holds a D.Min from Oral Roberts University and a D.Th. from the University of South Africa. He served for 16 years on the faculty of Oral Roberts University as Coordinator of Bible Institute programs and Adjunct Professor in the College of Theology and Ministry. Author of 12 books and more than 60 articles, he was ORU 2006 Scholar of the Year. He has also served as Scholar-at-Large for the D.Min. program at Alliance Theological Seminary, Doctor of Ministry Mentor for the Randy Clark Scholars program at United Theological Seminary and Global Awakening Theological Seminary, Leadership and Church Ministry Consultant and Trainer, an ordained pastor with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Interim Consulting Pastor for the Plano (Texas) Chinese Alliance Church, and Faculty Director of Purdue Ratio Christi/Christian Faculty and Staff Network. His books include God's Healing Arsenal: A Divine Battle Plan for Overcoming Distress and Disease (2011), Anointed Women: The Rich Heritage of Women in Ministry in the Christian & Missionary Alliance (2009), Only Believe: Examining the Origin and Development of Classic and Contemporary Word of Faith Theologies (2008), Genuine Gold: The Cautiously Charismatic Story of the Early Christian and Missionary Alliance (2006), Binding & Loosing: Exercising Authority over the Dark Powers (1999), and A Believer with Authority: The Life and Message of John A. MacMillan. Twitter: @PaulLKing.

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