Over the past days we have seen that God graciously speaks to us in a different way in accordance to what we as individuals need. We will now start to look at these in a little more detail. One way which God speaks to all, before in respect to general and specific guidance is through His Word, the Bible.
Now before I go further, I should mention that I have a strong commitment to the authority of Scripture. I believe that the Bible is God’s Word given to us in human words that are, like Christ Himself, both divine and human in a mysterious way.
There are people, including some Christians, who look to the Bible for guidance even though they don’t believe it’s inspired by God. They view Christian Scripture as a source of wisdom similar to other sources, like the plays of Shakespeare or Gandhi’s The Story of My Experiments with Truth. This is not the guidance I am speaking about here. While I believe there is much wisdom to be found in the words of others and without denigrating the wisdom found in such writings, they are not equal to that of the Bible which is uniquely inspired and, therefore, authoritative.
One way which the Bible helps us in regard to guidance is it gives us a measure. If for example, you think that the Spirit is leading you to do something the Bible prohibits, you can be sure that your spiritual lenses have become foggy. Throughout history people have committed blatant sins under the claim God’s guidance. But since the Spirit inspired the writers of Scripture, that same Spirit can be guaranteed not to lead us to contradict the plain direction of Scripture.
What does this look like in practise? Well the example we used before was about dating. But another true example is a man who claimed that God lead him to become intimately involved with the wife of another man. This man claimed that ‘’God had brought him and this woman together to deliver her from a terrible marriage’’. He actually believed this, and that God intended for him and the woman someday to be married. Unfortunately, his defence of adultery contradicted the clear teaching of Scripture in many places, including the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. No matter how much circumstances or his feelings led him towards adultery, he was misconstruing God’s guidance. According to Scripture, adultery is wrong, plain and simple.
There is a positive side to scriptural discernment of circumstantial guidance. If events in your life seem to point in you in a certain direction, you can be more confident about that direction if it leads you to do that which Scripture strongly affirms. If event in your life are pointing you to a calling, for example to travel to India on mission, you can be sure that God’s will is that you take the gospel to all nations. There’s no guarantee, of course. If you find a plane ticket to India alone you probably shouldn’t interpret that as proof. But if God is leading you in this area, scripture is a great support to reaffirm that calling.
The Bible gives us much more than the ability to evaluate the spiritual significance of circumstances and we will continue here tomorrow.