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Bible Dictionaries

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary


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Life involves the constant making of decisions, both major and minor, and believers naturally want to make decisions that are in accordance with God’s will. They may believe that God is their guide (Psalms 48:14) and they may pray for his guidance (Psalms 31:3), but they can be assured of his guidance only on certain conditions. They must trust him fully, accept his authority in every part of their lives, and make every effort to live righteously (Proverbs 3:5-7).

A Christian mind

Many of life’s decisions may be plainer than people think. Often what is required is not a special direction from God, but simply obedience to plain instructions that God has already given (e.g. Ephesians 4:25; Ephesians 4:28; Ephesians 4:32; see OBEDIENCE). However, people must know what is in the Bible if they are to obey it (2 Timothy 3:15-17; cf. John 13:17).

As believers increase their understanding of the Bible, their thinking gradually changes. They learn to think ‘christianly’, even about issues where the Bible gives no direct instruction. Their minds are transformed by the Holy Spirit through the Word, and this helps them to know God’s will and do what pleases him (Romans 12:2; Colossians 1:9-10; Colossians 3:10; cf. John 16:13; see KNOWLEDGE; MIND).

If people allow their lives to be directed by the Spirit through the Word, and if they do not self-confidently trust in their own wisdom, they can be assured that God will guide their decisions (Psalms 25:8-10; Proverbs 3:5-7). He promises to give wisdom to those who in humility and faith ask for it (James 1:5-6; see PRAYER; WISDOM). He also encourages believers to discuss matters with those whose insight and experience can help them see issues more clearly (Proverbs 12:15; 1 Corinthians 7:1).

God does not want Christians to be uncertain or timid in the way they live. He wants them to think, pray, discuss and decide, and then to act confidently upon their decisions (Acts 6:3; Acts 13:2-3; Acts 15:25; Acts 15:28; Acts 15:36; Acts 20:16; Romans 15:24-26; Titus 3:12). As they exercise their spiritual judgment in making decisions, they will grow towards maturity (Philippians 1:9-11; Hebrews 5:14). On occasions, however, God may choose to direct people not so much through their minds as through compelling inner feelings, or even through dreams and visions (Acts 8:29; Acts 10:9-16; Acts 16:9; see DREAM; VISION).

Faith in practice

Christians believe that God controls all the affairs of life and works through those affairs for their good (Romans 8:28; Philippians 1:12). They may believe that in certain circumstances God ‘opens a door’ and gives opportunities (1 Corinthians 16:8-9), and in others he ‘closes a door’ and denies opportunities (Acts 16:6-7). But circumstances in themselves are not always clear guidance. Favourable circumstances could be a temptation to take the path that is most naturally pleasing. Unfavourable circumstances could be a temptation to avoid the path that looks unpleasant (James 1:2-3; James 1:14; see TEMPTATION). Circumstances are not God’s guidance for a certain action if that action is itself contrary to what the Bible clearly teaches (1 Samuel 26:7-9).

God wants people to live their everyday lives positively, in a way that reflects the character of their salvation. He wants them to act in faith rather than ask for signs (2 Corinthians 5:7; cf. Matthew 16:4); yet he may graciously give signs to those whose faith is not strong (Judges 6:16-18; Judges 6:36-40; Matthew 12:20).

Christians should do what is right regardless of circumstances, rather than allow their circumstances to determine what they do (Philippians 4:11-13). God does not want people controlled outwardly, as if they are no better than animals controlled by a harness. He wants people controlled inwardly, as the spirit of God renews their minds after the likeness of Jesus Christ (Psalms 32:8-9; Ephesians 4:22-24).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Guidance'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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