Foundational Elements Of Divine Guidance

Five Indispensable Means Of Guidance From God

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The Holy Bible has answers for those who sincerely want to know the will of God. Let us look at five major means of divine guidance.

Any real disciple of Christ wonders at times what God’s will is in various situations. Often there are non-Christians who also sincerely desire direction from God. God does want to give guidance, but it is clear it must be in His ways. And while wanting to please Him should be our primary objective to receive His divine direction, in His mercy and wisdom there are times we might get it otherwise.

Along with seeking direction for various situations, the disciple of Christ will endeavor to keep “in tune” with God in all daily activities. If we faithfully practice His known will then we will be more able to know His specific will. There will also be times some of the means of divine guidance will be used by God to signal to His disciple a needful change in direction, or schedule, to warn of danger, and number of other reasons.

While there are number of methods God provides at various times, there are five that are foundational, with at least two of the five needing to be used in every situation.

God willing we will discuss the other means of divine guidance in another article, but it is necessary to begin with these five fundamental ways of divine guidance. Let us begin with the most needful and the most important of all.

I. The Written Word - Psalm 119:89, 2 Timothy 3:16

Who knows what God’s will is for anything? One person has one idea and another person another. One nation group worships many gods while another worships one, and still another group makes the State their god. A young man goes on a date with the attitude of getting to know a young lady and reserving sexual relations for marriage, but the young lady wants to go “parking”, expecting the young man to meet what she thinks are her needs.

Just on that, it makes perfectly good sense why God would see to it His will in various situations and for the entirety of a person’s life is written down. First came what is commonly called The Old Testament (OT), and then the New (NT), which comprises the Holy Bible. For further details please see footnote {1} below. Holy men of God were moved upon by the Holy Spirit to present to God’s people His Word (2 Peter 1:21) which had already been settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89): “Forever, O YHVH (The Existing One), Your word is settled in heaven.”

That should be comforting. God in His mercy has seen to it that all the instructions we need to live godly in His eyes, and more, was written down. Consider 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness". The Holy Bible will never be outdated because God never changes. We are to meet His standards, not revise His Word to meet our standards. 

“Is inspired” is a compound word in the Greek meaning “God breathed”, so “inspired” in this first transcends any earthly inspiration like we see in poetry, novels, music, and so on. With God’s Word settled forever in heaven God’s  Spirit moved upon holy men to give us the written Word. This was done over a course of time in Hebrew and Aramaic for the OT and perhaps two books of the NT, and Greek for the balance of the NT, if not all of it.

Because most people reading this are not able to read those ancient languages the Holy Bible has been translated into many, if not most, of today’s languages. Most of today’s languages are not as descriptive as the original languages of the Holy Bible. Also, amongst the numerous translations are quite a few that do not reflect exactly what God said.

If we really want to know what God said it is best to use a translation as literal as possible. For our church we use the New King James (NKJ), which is far more accurate in the New Testament than the New International Version -- once touted as being the best. I would also recommend any work by Jay P. Green, Sr. like the KJ3. As you may notice, I use the NASB for my current articles. The Copyright requirements seem to be less cumbersome than those for the NKJ.

Get such a Holy Bible, prayerfully and carefully read it, study it. Obey its commands and principles. Ask God to help you. The more you know it, the more of God’s will you will know. Trust the written Word above anything anyone tells you, even Christian preachers, teachers, and others. Because we are in the dispensation of grace and of the Church, it is best to read the New Testament first a number of times. But your understanding of it, and ability to obey it, will be hampered until you truly make Christ king in your life.

 

II. The Actual Indwelling Of Christ - Galatians 2:20e-j

“the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

Christ actually enters into a person when they surrender to God making Jesus Christ king of their life (Revelation 3:20). In so doing, Galatians 2:20 shows they are crucified with Him, but they still physically live and by faith they permit Christ to live through them. They must remain in Christ (John 15:1-6) and submissive to His teaching (Matthew 11:29), expressing that submissiveness by loving obedience to Him.

The written Word clearly describes how the incarnate Word within the disciple should be. This is why it is so important to follow the first foundation -- to trust the written Word, accept what it says, believe it, and follow through. The more the disciple knows the written Word the better they will know how the incarnate Word within them ought to be.

All disciples go through an ongoing growth process. For many, like myself, when they first start walking in Christ they might struggle not to purposely sin. However, as they mature in Jesus, they will get to the point where they cannot purposely sin (1 John 3:9):  “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

As a true Christian grows in Christ, Christ grows in them. The old nature, the “old man”, dies more and more and Christ lives more and more. In divine guidance the disciple will sense another will in him, the will of Christ. Along with not sinning, others things occur like the meekness of Christ becoming stronger.

Christ within will guide the believer to do things Christ would do and how He would do them. He will go places where Christ would go. He will minister to others when, where, and how Christ within would do. And all of this will never contradict the whole counsel of the written Word.

 

III. The Holy Spirit’s Direction - John 3:8

“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Being led by the Holy Spirit is very similar to the second foundation, Christ within. In fact, I know many godly ministers would not make the distinction I am making. After all, God is one being. Christ enters a person by His Spirit, and yes we most certainly may say the Holy Spirit (or Ghost -- “pneuma” may be translated either way in this case). But personally in the realm of divine guidance I sense direction from both God from within my being and direction from outside of it. And the wording of many passages that speak of the Holy Spirit’s leading seem to carry the sense of the external.

While John 3:8 would include how Jesus, the Apostles, the Old Testament prophets like Elijah and Elisha, and others were led and moved by the Holy Spirit, it primarily means that being born of His Spirit there will be many times the world “cannot figure out” a true disciple. And it does mean a disciple will not be led by personal impulse or outward coercion.

We are to be like Simeon who was no doubt open to the Holy Spirit and was directed by the Spirit to the Temple when Christ was circumcised (Luke 2:27). Later in the Gospel of Luke (4:1) we read Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. Disciples find that though by the Holy Spirit Isaiah spoke to the Jews, Isaiah 30:21 also speaks to them: “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” I have an article about hearing the voice of God and its link is listed below {2}.

There will be times that we may want to do something, including certain aspects of God’s work, but the Holy Spirit will tell us “no." In the book of Acts we read in 16:6-7, “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.”

For this foundation I mean a disciple being personally directed by the Holy Spirit. God willing I will address utterances like prophecies in another article. Except for “V. Divine Providence”, all of these foundations are solely between the disciple and God. And this is partly why they are foundational. They are the sure means provided by God for divine guidance.

 

IV. God Given Spiritual Discernment - 1 John 1:26-27

“These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”

1 John 1:26-27 points to an anointing that dwells within each true Christian. Given the context of the New Testament it is not saying we should not have God-given teachers. One thing it is saying is that Christ by the Holy Spirit within should be our main teacher. We are to be highly aware of deception by others. Jude 4 shows areas of the First Century Church were not on guard.

Being led by the Holy Spirit to use figurative language, Paul writes (1 Thessalonians 5:7-8b), “For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober.” By the Holy Spirit he also writes in Ephesians 5:15, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise.”

While there is the gift of discerning of spirits (1 Corinthians 12:10) we see from the passages above every Christian has a level of discernment. It could be viewed as a disciple’s spiritual defense mechanism. It is also the ability to appraise certain things according to God’s standards -- not just whether they are bad or good, but also bad or worse, or neutral, good, better, or best. It is also discerning how to deal with certain matters. Jude 22 gives and example in regard to rescuing those who are perishing spiritually.

In some translations “judge” is used in certain verse that speak of discernment and despite what we repeatedly hear from the cowardly, Jesus who said in Matthew 7:1 not to judge also said in Matthew 7:15-16 to beware of false prophets and that we should be able to discern who the false prophets are by their fruit.

Once again other Holy Bible teachers will say, and rightfully so, that basic spiritual discernment is the same as being led by the Holy Spirit and having Christ within. However, I prefer to make a distinction because basic spiritual discernment is often neglected. Instead, it needs to be used and developed by each disciple {3}, especially as we near the end of the Gentile Age.


V. Divine Providence - Daniel 4:35b-e

“But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
  And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
  Or say to Him, 'What have You done?”

While divine providence in the general sense can mean God’s provision for His entire creation, in regard to divine guidance it may be described as action directed by God to perform His will and accomplish His purposes. This foundation of divine guidance is external to the disciple and oftentimes it is used by God to confirm what a disciple has sensed from the other means of divine guidance mentioned above.

There are numerous cases of divine providence in the Holy Bible. Consider the book of Esther. Not one time is God mentioned, but once you read the entire account it was very evident that God had a mighty hand in the events of the lives of the people mentioned therein. A sequence occurs that exposes the wickedness in the heart of Haman to kill all the Jews in the kingdom, but also provides miraculous deliverance for them.

A favorite of mine is in Genesis 24 when Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac. When the God fearing servant arrives he asks for a sign from God as to which woman it should be. By providence God had already sent her and she was heading his way before the servant had finished praying in his heart. Another instance of divine providence is the death of King Ahab due to an arrow shot at random  (1 Kings 22:34-36).

Written Word of God

Earlier in this article I indicated that at least two of the five foundational elements of divine guidance need to be used in every situation where divine guidance is needed. Of those two, one is always, without question, the written Word of God. All other means of divine guidance need to match the written Word. If it does not match, then the other guidance was not from God.

In my opinion, most often the other fundamental means is Christ Himself within. He will remind us to do the will of God. He will prompt us. If we delay to obey Christ will again give a nudge. And we must be very careful to respond, to obey. Continual disobedience will cause us to eventually be spiritually deaf. Our love for Him will grow horribly cold and at some point we fall from grace because we have rejected His grace.

An Example Of The Operation Of These Foundational Elements

Here is a personal account of all five of these foundational elements of divine guidance occurring over a period of time. As I present it I will note what foundational elements were involved by using the Roman numerals I assigned to each above, viz., I. for The Written Word, II.  for The Actual Indwelling Of Christ, III. for The Holy Spirit’s Direction, IV. for God Given Spiritual Discernment, and V. for Divine Providence.

After about serving seven or eight years as pastor at Flintstone Assembly Of God {4}, I sensed [III] a spiritual need in the general fellowship of the Assemblies Of God (AOG) for more converts -- “new blood” you might say. Like any disciple I was aware that we were to go into all the world to make disciples [I]. Though I was doing His will for being, and staying at, where He had sent me, I had to wonder if it was time for us to leave Flintstone. And, of course I made it a matter of prayer [II].

At one point I sensed the Holy Spirit [III] indicating we (my family and I) should start a new church within the Potomac District Of The Assemblies Of God (PDAOG). I checked where AOG churches were sparce, or where another church would be fine in a highly populated area. Making a long story a bit shorter we traveled to various cities and towns. One of the first places we checked was Thurmont, Maryland. (Unless otherwise noted, all other places mentioned were in Maryland).

Thurmont! I really liked the looks of the area, but when we got there we sensed [III] that it was not the place. We went to Reisterstown with its larger population. Again it was a “no” [III]. The same was true of Frederick and other places [III]. Finally, we went to Cambridge, a place I had thought of going to over a decade before, but when I was there sometime in the 70s the place made me fearful for various reasons. However, this time things were different. While we stopped somewhere, bought ice cream sandwiches and ate them I sensed God saying to me [II and III] this was the place.

So I initiated the procedure outlined in the PDAOG By-Laws to get approval to move to Cambridge and start an AOG church (without continued financial backing by the PDAOG). Now, one might ask why did not we just go without getting approval if we felt it was God’s will. I would say it is because the written Word indicates we are not to be insubordinate to those in authority we have agreed to work with. We are to learn to work together. 

The day came I met with the brothers in Annapolis to seek permission. AOG districts are usually divided into sections and at that time Maryland’s Eastern Shore fell within the jurisdiction of those in the general Annapolis region. Leaving out many details, they never told me right after the meeting whether or not I was approved. I had to call the presbyter of that section. He said I was not approved. However, God again said [III] we were to go.

Now I was in a quandary {5}. But then, in speaking with the superintendent of the PDAOG,  he told me to “hold steady” and wait for a change. A few weeks later Dorcas and I , Shaklee Distributors, received a notice from Shaklee about a potential customer in Denton. “Where is Denton?”, Dorcas asked. I replied, “On the Eastern Shore where we belong.” The Eastern Shore of Maryland is almost two hundred miles from Flintstone. Why did we get a “lead” from so far away? I could only think this was divine providence [V] in operation.

In prayer I basically said to God that sometimes such providential signs come in threes. So I asked for two more. This was not unlike the case with Abraham’s servant. And this is not the same as spoken of in Matthew 16:4 because there and elsewhere Jesus was referring to seeking a sign in regard to the advent of Messiah. A few weeks later I received a phone call from a brother in the New England area asking to come and teach at our church for a time. As a reference he gave me the name of the presbyter in the Annapolis area -- providential [V] sign number two!

All of this time I sensed a strong witness within [II] we were to go to Cambridge, but the weeks dragged on and on. It was early in December 1989 when I was again concerned that the AOG was neglecting the Eastern Shore. As I flipped the pages of a Holy Bible my eyes caught [V] the word “wait” numerous times in a psalm. It spoke to me. I closed the Holy Bible feeling that was my third sign.

About a day or so later I received a phone call from an Assemblies of God minister in Crisfield. He asked me if I still wanted to come to Cambridge. I replied “yes”. He informed me that the executive presbytery of the PDAOG decided that the brothers on the Eastern Shore were to decide if I would be allowed to start a church in Cambridge. He told me to write a letter to him affirming my desire and he would arrange a meeting with the other Eastern Shore brothers to interview me. I told him I would send the letter just after Christmas.

We met in January. I received their letter of approval a few weeks later. Doors began to open for us to establish a church in Cambridge -- employment on the Eastern Shore, a temporary place for me to stay while I worked there and got things arranged, then an apartment for our family, and employment for my wife.

Have you kept track of the Roman numerals? If so, so far I did not mentioned IV., God Given Discernment. While it may have happened earlier, what I do recall was I had been placed in contact with two men who were hoping to see an AOG church established in Cambridge. This looked good at first, but as time went on I sensed by discernment [IV]  both would be more of a hindrance than a help. I brought that to God in prayer. Eventually, because of impatience on their part they departed as I obeyed instructions from the AOG to build a core group first and then open a church. I estimated two years. That was fine with the AOG ministers, but not with those two men. Later I saw that one of them would have been definitely trouble.

Quick Review

As I close I would like to emphasize the following points. First, our goal ought to be to please Him, to do His will and not what we think is His will when it is really ours. Second, and vitally important is to be “in tune” with Him and remain “in tune” with Him. Third, but just as important, the written Word of God is the standard by which we are to determine the validity of all other means of guidance.

Yet, what matters most is having Christ truly as King in one’s life. Otherwise we will be operating from self, and self is very often wrong. Having Christ as King helps us to clearly see specific aspects of God’s will throughout our life. It also gives us vibrant purpose. And, being God’s true redeemed child is both exciting and rewarding!

Notes:

{1} Please visit The Sure Word at http://thesureword.sapphirestreams.com/ . The following helpful topics will have links near the top of the page: You Can Know The Holy Bible Is The Word Of God; The Nature And Purpose Of The Holy Bible; Holy Bibles Good And Bad;  Foundational Principles For Understanding  ...; General Principles For Understanding ...;  Deductive Principles For Understanding ...; and Special Principles For Understanding The Holy Bible.

{2} Please read To Hear The Voice of God at http://holybibletreasures.expertscolumn.com/article/hear-voice-god .

{3} Please also read Every Christian Ought To Have A Mighty Big Nose at  http://holybibletreasures.expertscolumn.com/article/every-christian-ought-to-have-a-mighty-big-nose .

{4} At that time I held ordination credentials with the AOG. I resigned my credentials with the AOG on August 31, 2003. At the time of the online publication of this article I was an independent minister of the Gospel Of Christ,being Independent of denominations and credentialling fellowships, but highly dependent on God!

{5} There are times it seems a “very fine line" separates two principles. Insubordination to those you have covenanted with in the Lord is a very serious matter. Of course, insubordination to God is worse. Permit me to put it this way: At this point I knew God wanted us in Cambridge, but I sensed no push within me from Christ to go against the authority of the brothers.

This article was written in the form of a sermon (message) outline with comments. God willing by May 18, 2018 (hopefully much sooner), you should be able to hear the actual message (sermon) by selecting a link at http://www.sapphirestreams.com/life/audioM.html#M497 .

Unless otherwise noted all Holy Scripture is from the New American Standard Bible changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates and adding “(The Existing One)” to readily express the meaning of His Name without making repeated explanations in articles. * = For other versions the spelling of some words is updated for our time in addition to changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates.

Not responsible for any advertisements appearing with this article nor am I necessarily in agreement with any of them. The statements of this paragraph hold true not only for this article, but for everything I have placed on the Internet.

For a list of more articles please see Holy Bible Treasures at http://holybibletreasures.sapphirestreams.com/ .


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God is certainly active in the lives of all, especially those who are receptive to Him. And while He has provided numerous means of divine guidance we must be aware of false guidance..

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