Guidance

Reformed Baptist
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Joined: 5:59 PM - Nov 20, 2015

6:31 PM - Sep 27, 2018 #1

The concept of guidance has been much on my mind lately - here is a just a brain dump of thoughts I have been having. 

1) People seem to equate opportunity with guidance - if that is the case then wasn't David wrong to spare Soul's life when he had Saul at his mercy in the cave? 

2) It seems to me that sometimes God gives people what they want as a judgment - In Samuel's day the people wanted a king so God gave them Saul as a judgment 

3) Sometimes people equate circumstances with God's blessing yet when Jonah got to the port there just happened to be a boat there heading to Tarnish which was the opposite direction to where God want him to go 

4) Guidance seems to about feelings today - yet the human is deceptive and we cannot know! Guidance in the word of God always seems to be a clear 'word' from God on the matter

5) Too many people wait for guidance when the bible is clear that they should do something

6) 'I have peace on matter'  is used to silence so many argument - well so did Jonah! He was asleep in a storm as he disobeyed God   

7) even people that reject the charismatic gifts seem to emphasis 'feelings' when it comes to guidance

At some point I need to organise these thoughts into some type of study - in the meantime tear me down and tell me I am wrong if you wish, or even agree 👍 
"George Whitefield said, "We are all born Arminians." It is grace that turns us into Calvinists." Spurgeon
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Markus Leoninus
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Markus Leoninus
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Joined: 3:11 PM - Apr 02, 2009

5:19 AM - Sep 28, 2018 #2

I think you are on to something here, RB. I am convinced you are right, in fact.
When it comes to knowing what God's will is, or when it comes to whether He is leading and directing this way or that, we can find ourselves in some deep weeds if we're not careful, twisted up and swamped through plunging into a whole range of complex and clustered personal desire and emotion that is essentially not God-centered but man-focused and self-centered.
One of the great hindrances for sentient, emotional beings like us humans (born in a fallen state and at best, if we be regenerate, being progressively restored), in terms of finding and accepting pure truth or facts and adjusting ourselves accordingly is our tendency to subjectivism. Only too often do folk mistake for truth deceptive and misleading subjective apprehensions and notions, based very much upon personal emotional desires... which, upon rigorous analysis, are found to not correspond with actual objective reality, common sense, or practical need.
Not being mindful of this tendency and on guard against it keeps us as a species, as a community at large, and as individuals, in deep trouble... and in every area of cognition and experience.
This is true in matters of religion.
It is true in matters of a political nature, also.
In my personal research in both areas, and attempts to share what I find, especially in the past 6 years or so, I have encountered a bewildering degree of resistance to pure, raw data and facts; to documented, verifiable facts.
Often, when I present a set of facts to folk regarding matters of a political nature (for prime instance) that, say, conflicts with nationalistic pride and presumption, instilled since earliest childhood by sweeping corporate and mainstream media sources, they respond with something like, "Oh, Mark (my real name), that's just 'conspiracy theory'. "
Just as often (because I have researched it and can actually set it forth and prove the case) I say, "To the contrary, here are the factual analyses... based upon eyewitness testimonies, insider admissions and confessions; based upon the inexorable laws of physics, and myriad examinations of a penetrating and forensic nature... here are the actual facts which reveal that what you've always been told and what you've always assumed is true is, in fact, highly erroneous, deceptive, misleading, and even dangerous. Indeed, the consequences of your sincere but mistaken notions have proven tragic for the world community at large. You are yourself a victim and scarcely know it, if you are aware of it at all."
At this, not a few respond with denial. They succumb to what psychologists term "cognitive dissonance", i.e.:
"mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, performs an action that is contradictory to one or more beliefs, ideas or values, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values."
I'm presently amassing materal of a political/geopolitical nature... and ultimately of a theological nature... that exhibits this tendency to subjectivism as over against the objective realities of the current state of human affairs, and how we arrived as a race to this point. I do not write as a pessimist in the full philosophical sense of the word, but as one who knows that by God's grace things can change. It starts individually but it extends to the community level.
Yet there is no question about it; we human beings are at a very, very dangerous crossroads, individually, collectively within our own nations, and as a species on the global, international level. And when I say that I am hopeful for changes by God's grace, I mean grace of a massive, sweeping, and supernatural kind. Nothing short of this will serve the turn.

Well, I took quite the stride there, but I think you'll know what I'm saying, and see the connection.

When it comes to notions about Divine guidance, subjectivism is a source of untold trouble.

Your statement as follows caught my eye first thing:
"2) It seems to me that sometimes God gives people what they want as a judgment - In Samuel's day the people wanted a king so God gave them Saul as a judgment."
Brother, without question this is so.
Romans chapter 1 is a prime example of this fact that God sometimes hands folk over to their own way, because they stubbornly and persistently reject HIS way. The Apostle tells us of those who want, who desire, who lust for this or for that, grossly suppressing the truth in their wickedness in the process. They set aside all objective reality about the true God who has revealed Himself in the created order and in the human conscience and through providential acts innumerable (general revelation), and now also shun His inspired and infallible witness in Holy Writ (special revelation) and set up idols in His place... often in the name of wisdom and science, sometimes in the name of religion... no doubt also assuming many times that their course is the will of God, or the gods (as they like to imagine; some propping "reason" on a pedestal and thinking to achieve godhood through it)... and absolutely all of it is based upon raw, unfettered emotion or feeling. Subjectivism at its depraved worst.
 
You mentioned the Charismatic gifts, which reminded me of the often wild and unbridled notions of the Charismatic movement regarding the will of God; or what is presumed to be His will with regard to His people. Of course, Charismatics can sometimes entertain some strange ideas about where they figure God is leading them, or by what means He is doing so.
The Charismatic movement, an offshoot of traditional Pentecostalism, went further into what is now known as "The Word of Faith" / "Prosperity Gospel" movement, what detractors sometimes humorously (but with good reason) refer to as "the name it claim it, blab it grab it" movement... which is an entirely self-centered system of presumption in which it is declared, on the basis of cherry-picked verses or passages involving terrible hermeneutical principles, that "God wants you rich", "God wants you fulfilled, He wants you to achieve self-realization and wholeness", "God wants you to be in perfect health", God wants this or that for you, "your best life now", and so on, virtually ad infinitum. It is assumed that if you don't have these things, God will lead you into a prosperous life if you just have faith in your faith (actually one of their ways to describe the means for getting God's best in life).
And, of course, the whole time Jesus teaches us to deny ourselves, to take up our cross daily, and to follow Him; to set aside all other priorities, make them secondary at best, or reject them entirely, if need be... or we cannot be His disciples.
Lk. 9: 23-27; 14:25-35; Mt. 16:21-27; Mk. 8:27-38; etc.
No one was richer than Solomon, nor fared better than he, in his own day. Perhaps few have enjoyed the extent of his material goods and social and political advantages in the history of the world. He evidently had a little (a lot, even) of pretty much everything. He withheld nothing from himself in terms of personal indulgences at his disposal. Yet we know that strange women got him into trouble, for one thing; God knows what else. And he went on to warn extensively of the utter folly and vanity of the whole business (Ecclesiastes, entire), coming to "the conclusion of the whole matter", to fear and reverence God and to simply keep His commandments, knowing He brings every work into judgment in the end, whether it be good or evil.
And when folk, enamored with this world's goods, and basing their concern primarily if not exclusively upon what God is leading them into regarding these things, they can get themselves in quite a number of predicaments, the source of much anxiety, not of actual blessing.
Basic fact:
God's will is that we meditate upon and delight in His Law, His Word, and keep His commandments (Psalm 1, Psalm 119, entire... just for starters, in fact). This is how He leads us, too, and this is actually true blessing... without question or debate.
Sure, He can, and often does, bestow material and physical blessing. No question it is sometimes His will.
But that is small potatoes, it seems to me, in the reckoning of a holy and a righteous God.
God's will for His people is conformity to His Son; no matter what the specifics of our leading in His providence, and despite any severe persecution that might come our way (Rom. 8:28 ff.). Nothing but His Word leads us aright in that most important of all legitimate concerns. Our ideas, and our emotions and desires, must be constantly checked by that supreme agenda.
Many assume that God does not lead, or allow us to be led, in a direction that brings discomfort or trouble. Yet Scripture says that all who live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution; certainly to some degree. 2 Tim. 3:12. It seems not too much to say that a professor who has no trouble from the unbelieving world is a professor who is not being led by God.
Jesus said to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and whatever else was actually needful to us would be added. Mt. 6:24-34. I'm sure, too, He'll lead us where we need to go if this be uppermost in our mind and endeavor. What side items it is His will to toss into the mix is scarcely worthy of our concern, and should never become the prevailing source of our anxieties in this strange and tumultuous world where there is trouble enough for us as is, and where we have no lasting place to begin with.

The Westminster divines have it right:

Q. 1. What is the chief and highest end of man?
A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him for ever.
Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 10:31; Ps. 73:24-28; John 17:21-23.
(Larger Catechism)
Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.
2 Tim. 3:16; Eph. 2:20; 1 John 1:3-4.
Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.
2 Tim. 1:13; 2 Tim. 3:16.
(Shorter Catechism)

God guides by His Word. Its chief objective is simply that we live for His honor and glory. Everything else in terms of His will follows of its own course in His providence, and ultimately for our good.

The Heidelberg Catechism was on to something, and made clear right away, what modern professors focused primarily upon this earth and the things of time forget to their hurt.

Question 1.
What is thy only comfort in life and death?
Answer.
That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a)
am not my own, (b)
but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c)
who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d)
and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e)
and so preserves me (f)
that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g)
yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h)
and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i)
and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)
(a) Rom.14:7,8. (b) 1 Cor.6:19. (c) 1 Cor.3:23; Tit.2:14. (d) 1
Pet.1:18,19; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:2,12. (e) Heb.2:14; 1 John 3:8; John
8:34-36. (f) John 6:39; John 10:28; 2 Thess.3:3; 1 Pet.1:5. (g)
Matt.10:29-31; Luke 21:18. (h) Rom.8:28. (i) 2 Cor.1:20-22; 2 Cor.5:5;
Eph.1:13,14; Rom.8:16. (j) Rom.8:14; 1 John 3:3.
Q. 2.
How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happily?
A.
Three; (a)
the first, how great my sins and miseries are; (b)
the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; (c)
the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such
deliverance. (d)
(a) Matt.11:28-30; Luke 24:46-48; 1 Cor.6:11; Tit.3:3-7. (b) John
9:41; John 15:22. (c) John 17:3; Acts 4:12; Acts 10:43. (d) Eph.5:8-
11; 1 Pet.2:9,10; Rom.6:1,2,12,13.

In a word, God's will is His Word and our conformity to His Son accordingly. His Word leads us where we should go in that matter of primary and immeasurable moment.
Beware of phony Calvinists, Pharisees that thumb the nose, willfully blind to their own profound wretchedness.
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nikolai_42
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nikolai_42
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Joined: 5:12 PM - Oct 04, 2013

5:01 PM - Oct 03, 2018 #3

Reformed Baptist wrote: The concept of guidance has been much on my mind lately - here is a just a brain dump of thoughts I have been having. 

1) People seem to equate opportunity with guidance - if that is the case then wasn't David wrong to spare Soul's life when he had Saul at his mercy in the cave? 

2) It seems to me that sometimes God gives people what they want as a judgment - In Samuel's day the people wanted a king so God gave them Saul as a judgment 

3) Sometimes people equate circumstances with God's blessing yet when Jonah got to the port there just happened to be a boat there heading to Tarnish which was the opposite direction to where God want him to go 

4) Guidance seems to about feelings today - yet the human is deceptive and we cannot know! Guidance in the word of God always seems to be a clear 'word' from God on the matter

5) Too many people wait for guidance when the bible is clear that they should do something

6) 'I have peace on matter'  is used to silence so many argument - well so did Jonah! He was asleep in a storm as he disobeyed God   

7) even people that reject the charismatic gifts seem to emphasis 'feelings' when it comes to guidance

At some point I need to organise these thoughts into some type of study - in the meantime tear me down and tell me I am wrong if you wish, or even agree 👍 
I like things simple - ironically, I'm also the very one who tends to overcomplicate things. I think the answer is simple, but can be very difficult (in practice) to adhere to.

 Honestly, I don't think it is limited to emotions - it can just as easily be our reasoning that gets us into trouble. Feelings can be a cop out when we don't know how to reason out our choices. But even when we reason things out we can be led in the wrong direction. After all, it's the same heart working whether we have leadings or logic.We are not dispassionate beings.

 The fool bases his whole logic on a faulty premise - there is no God (or, as I recall hearing in the first ever Reformed Baptist sermon I was exposed to, it was the fool basically saying "No, God."). And it was more faulty "logic" that got Eve into trouble (I'm still not quite sure why Adam listened to her). The serpent took something that was essentially true ("...ye shall be as gods..." Gen 3:5b confirmed a few verses later when God declared "Behold, the man is become as one of us..." Gen 3:22a) and used "logic" to play on Eve's emotions/reactions ("...the tree was good for food...pleasant to the eyes...desired to make one wise..." Gen 3:6). As a result, man directly disobeyed God's clear command. It only amplifies the warning that There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Prov 14:12 .

 The contrast to the Garden is, of course, Jesus' overcoming his temptations in the wilderness. In each of the first two temptations, Satan uses Scripture to apparently try and convince the Savior to do something that - of itself - is not morally wrong. But underscoring those injunctions are fundamental matters of adherence to both the scriptures and the will of God for Jesus' ministry. The third temptation seems like Satan's last attempt to thwart Jesus' ministry. It would have given Him something He came for - but illegitimately. And the price would have been catastrophic to His purpose and to those He came for. The first two occasions Satan quoted Scripture to cover the intent. The third time he just blatantly tried to appeal to Jesus' desires. But each time Jesus' countered with Scripture. So in the end Jesus even had to overcome "bad reasoning".

 The solution is simple - trust the Lord and He will guide you (Prov 3:5-6), but what to do when you are in situations - like you point out - where the opportunity is there? I don't know how Jonah rationalized his disobedience, but it was pretty clear that he was doing the opposite of what God had directed him to do. In the case of David, I'm sure there was nothing of himself that wanted to spare Saul. He only did because he recognized where Saul's authority came from and didn't want to reject that. Where was his reasoning? Maybe this is a side-issue, but where was Israel's reasoning when they stoned Adoram just prior to the splitting of the Northern and Southern kingdoms? God had already told Jereboam, but did Jereboam tell Israel? Is that why they stoned him? If not, when is such revolt justified? As you point out in #2, Israel was simply reaping the fruits of their decision to reject God's counsel.

I'm absolutely agreeing, but trying to throw in the thought (perhaps clumsily) that it isn't just feelings at stake here.

 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
   Isaiah 55:6-11
If God promises life, He slayeth first; when He builds, He casteth all down first. God is no patcher; He cannot build on another's foundation. - William Tyndale
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Reformed Baptist
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Joined: 5:59 PM - Nov 20, 2015

8:08 AM - Oct 04, 2018 #4

Some interesting thoughts there - thanks for developing them. 

It isn't just about feelings - it is also about faulty reasoning and wrong priorities.
"George Whitefield said, "We are all born Arminians." It is grace that turns us into Calvinists." Spurgeon
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Ask Mr. Religion
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Joined: 9:13 AM - Jul 28, 2008

8:28 PM - Oct 06, 2018 #5

It is common for not a few to substitute obedience for whatever they are disposed to do, then go off claiming God "led them" to their decision. Seeking "signs and wonders." Sigh.

Great errors have been committed under the mantra of “God led me,”  uninformed by Scripture. Yes, God leads by providence- but one’s guesswork at what God may be doing is no substitute for immersion in His Word wherein we find God’s revealed will for us.

Guidance, knowing God’s will for our lives, is much more a matter of thinking rather than feeling.  Instead of saying “God really spoke to my heart and told me…” we need to say “I prayed, studied Scripture, then asked a some trusted Christian friends, and these things helped me decide to make my decision.” 

God has revealed His will in Scripture. If we want to know God's will about this or that we should be looking to the one place that contains His revealed will.

1. Where God commands, we must obey.
2. Where there is no command, God gives us freedom (and responsibility) to choose.
3. Where there is no command, God gives us wisdom to choose.
4. When we have chosen what is moral and wise, we must trust the sovereign God to work all the details together for good.

I cannot recall ever seeing Scripture teaching anyone to "seek God's will." I do find plenty that teach us to "do God's will."

A few tips:
1. Read the Bible
2. Develop a heart for God
3. Seek wise counsel
4. Look for God’s providence
5. Does whatever you are choosing make sense?

Ask yourself:
1. What can I do? 
2. What do I like to do? 
3. What would I like to be able to do? 
4. What should I do?

Scripture even teaches us of things that can prevent us from knowing the will of God and we should examine ourselves carefully if we are struggling with understanding God's will: 

- Deliberate sin (Psalm 66:18-19)
- Turning a deaf ear to people in need (Proverbs 21:13)
- Ignoring God’s teaching (Proverbs 28:9)
- Active participation in evil (Psalm 34:15-16)
- Failing to ask God (James 4:2)
- Asking in the wrong way (James 4:2-3)
- Having doubts that God gives generously (James 1:6-7)
- Asking in a proud way (James 4:6) 

Also worth a read:
https://www.theaquilareport.com/you-can ... gods-will/
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Markus Leoninus
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Markus Leoninus
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Joined: 3:11 PM - Apr 02, 2009

7:50 PM - Oct 07, 2018 #6

Three Sermons from William Bridge, a Puritan, and a member of the Westminster Assembly, that should prove pertinent here:

Scripture Light, the Most Sure Light (in three sermons)
http://www.digitalpuritan.net/Digital%2 ... 0Light.pdf
Beware of phony Calvinists, Pharisees that thumb the nose, willfully blind to their own profound wretchedness.
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