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Basic Biblical Principles of Discernment


Discernment Principle 8: Sift and Weigh for Equilibrium

Does this teaching, practice, or manifestation represent a biblical balance or is it one-sided? (balance—green light; imbalance— blinking yellow light, yellow light, or red light). This is based on the biblical discernment foundation of equilibrium. The Apostle Paul portrays the precariousness of imbalance: “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, in the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming …” (Eph 4:14-15). Charles Spurgeon describes this instability as swinging like a pendulum: “He is unsteady because, while his faith perceives the truth, it does not perceive the harmonies of truth. …  He is half-blind, and cannot see far.”[vi]

Truth Has Two Wings. A.W. Tozer advocated the two wings principle of balanced discernment: “Truth is like a bird; it cannot fly on one wing. … Dr. G. Campbell Morgan said that the whole truth does not lie in “It is written,” but in “It is written” and “Again it is written.” The second text must be placed over against the first to balance it and give it symmetry, just as the right wing must work with the left to balance the bird and enable it to fly. …  Truth has two wings.”[vii] We will explore this further in Chapter 10.




This excerpt from Paul L. King, Is It Of God? A Biblical Guidebook For Spiritual Discernment Volume 1 (Newberry, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2019) is used with permission.


Further Reading:

Read John Lathrop’s review of Is It of God?

Read the interview with Paul King about the book: “Wanting What the Lord Wants, an Interview with Paul King



[i] I have adapted this analogy from my friend Barry Raeburn, an evangelist from New Zealand, who used a green light, orange light, red light image to describe theological balance and discernment in his book The Truth is in the Balance (Tulsa, OK: Barry Raeburn Evangelistic Assn, 2017). They must have orange lights in New Zealand instead of yellow lights!

[ii] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982), 100, 101.

[iii] John Wesley used four methods for knowing truth, which became known as the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral.” These include Scripture, experience, reason, and tradition (theology and practice through church history). Scripture is the pinnacle, as we have already mentioned above. The other three must conform to Scripture and find their origin and support in the Scriptures themselves.

A.J. Gordon, 19th century Baptist pastor and founder of what today is known as Gordon-Conwell Seminary and Gordon College, used a similar grid to determine the reality of healing in the 19th century, which included the testimony of: 1) Scripture; 2) reason; 3) the Church and missions (tradition and experience); 4) the theologians (reason & tradition); 5) experience. See A.J. Gordon, The Ministry of Healing (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, n.d.),

[iv] The New International Version uses the phrase “constant use” and the J.B. Phillips New Testament translates it “developed by experience.”

[v] A.J. Gordon, “The Ministry of Women,” Alliance Weekly, Dec. 15, 1928, 821.

[vi] Charles H. Spurgeon, 1000 Devotional Thoughts (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976), 148.

[vii] A.W. Tozer, That Incredible Christian (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1964), 59, 61.

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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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