Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Decision Making By the Book, Part 18 of 20

TEXT: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2).

IDEA: Can I ask God to give me special leading?

PURPOSE: God's major way of speaking to His people today is through His Word.

Our seventh and final principle grows out of the pervasive question, "Don't you think that God could give us special revelation? Can't God speak to us directly, apart from His Word? Can't God give to His people today the kind of spectacular revelations that He gave in Bible times?"

It is presumptuous to decide what God can and cannot do. God can do anything He pleases, even if it contradicts everything we've said in the past three weeks about God's will. But what God can do and what God does are two separate things.

The answer to the question is Yes, God can—and sometimes does—give special revelation to His people, and that can happen today. But having said that, we must note that seeking God's special revelation is generally the least effective method of discerning God's will. That's why we are dealing with it last. God's major way of speaking to His people today is through His Word.

The Bible is God's living Word. He has given it to us. The Scriptures are completely sufficient to give us all we need, for all of life's situations, to be all that God wants us to be.

When does God speak directly? In the Book of Acts, we see God's special revelation coming to the apostles and to other Christians when they weren't looking for it:

Phillip in Acts 8 was interrupted in the middle of his ministry in Samaria and sent on a special mission in Gaza.

Cornelius in Acts 10 was told to send for Peter at a point at which God made a major turn in opening the gospel to the Gentiles.

In Acts 16 Paul received a vision that changed his direction from traveling east through Asia Minor to head northwest into Greece.

In all these occasions in Acts, note how God speaks to people:

He speaks to people who are not looking for leading, not specifically trying to find God's will.

He speaks at times when He desires a major change in the church's direction.

He speaks unambiguously, not through holy hunches or inner feelings.

Apostolic decision-making: When we look at most of the decisions the apostles made, we find a surprising thing: they made decisions as we make them. They looked at their circumstances and came up with the best solution available. See Acts 7 and serving Greek widows; Acts 15:1-31 and Gentile exclusion from Jewish law.

Note, also, that in the New Testament we never read that God guided a believer in a personal decision not related to the ministry of the Gospel. As far as we know, Peter didn't get special guidance from God when he wanted to buy a house or a horse. Nor do we hear of divine guidance when it came to decisions concerning marriage. In the New Testament. God's special revelation and guidance always had to do with ministry and the moving of God in the world.

We began by saying that God can do anything He wants: He can give personal guidance. If you feel that you've been blessed with personal revelation, here are two things to keep in mind:

Special revelation can never be contrary to God's moral will.

Not all angelic visitors come from heaven. Be sure the voice you hear is indeed the voice of God.