Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"I feel led.... God Told Me...."

One of those issues that has gotten under my skin for a long time is the issue that I call the "God told me" syndrome. People who suffer from this problem often experience symptoms such as, but not limited to:

  • Weak theology
  • Self justification of sin
  • Gratification of the flesh
  • A rejection of Sola Scriptura and the Sufficiency of Scripture

I myself, a former charismatic, have suffered from this condition. Yes it's true, there was a time when I would often say things like, "God told me..." or "God led me to do this" or "I think God is leading me to..." I would use these catch phrases to justify something I wanted to do. I sometimes genuinely convinced myself that God had really said something to me, but Got frustrated when it did not happen. I've had other experiences where friends would tell me that God told them something. I had a girlfriend in High school break up with me because God told her to. I had a friend that told me God told him that I shouldn't get married to the person who is now my wife of almost 4 years (whom I love and God has blessed our marriage). I couldn't figure out why God would tell my friend that, and not me. Maybe I wasn't listening, or maybe I was right that my friend just wasn't happy with the relationship I had with my fiance' that moved to quick for most people. (I asked Susan to marry me one day less than a month after meeting her.) So I have been guilty of this disease and I have suffered from the symptoms of others as well. But let me ask you this, when can we actually say that God told us something?

I submit to you that the only time we can confidently say "God told me..." is when we can follow it up with something like "...In John chapter 10..." After all, the only way we can know for sure the will of God is through his word. 2 Timothy 3 :17 tells us that Scripture makes the man of God "...competent, equipped for every good work."

Therefore when we come to a difficult decision or we are needing some guidance on any given issue, where should we turn? Do we stop and listen to that inner voice? No. We go to the Scripture that is sufficient to make us competent, and equipped for every good work.

When a person says that God told them something, my response is always, "What did God sound like? I mean if you heard from God, tell me what He sounds like, I'm eager to know!" Of course, that's not what they meant. They did not hear the audible voice of God. So then they might say, "Well, I feel God leading me to do this." Then of course I can't help but ask, "Really? How does it feel when God leads you?" About that time they are tired of my questions.

But here is the point, what do people mean when they say "God told me..." or "God is leading me..."? How does God do this to them? They just feel it in their heart? But Jeremiah 17:9 says,

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"

The problem here is that we are sinners. We have been seriously marred by sin. And even if you are a new creation in Christ, the Scripture tells us that we will struggle to defeat the flesh (our sinful old nature) for the rest of our earthly existence. So can we trust our feelings? Absolutely not. Our feeling are subjective. Think, right now as you are reading this, how many ungodly thoughts and feeling have you had this month, this week, today? If you're honest you will say, "I've had a whole lot." I know I have. Why? Because I'm a jacked up sinner in need of God's grace every moment I draw another breath.

So when I have a decision that needs made, or I need guidance, what do I need to do? I need to pray and go to the word of God. It is a dangerous thing that is being taught that people should merely pray, ask God for answers and sit quietly and listen for his voice. That is not how God tells us He operates. Who knows what you might here? You might hear your own desires saying "Yeah, do this" or perhaps a demon might speak to you and you think it's God! How do you know? What does God sound like?

I'm certainly this is where someone will say to me, "But the book of James tells us that 'if anyone of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.'" (James 1:5) Well, yes it does. But it says wisdom and not knowledge. Wisdom, biblically speaking, is the application of knowledge. So Scripture is not saying, if you don't know something, ask God to tell you, rather, if you know the truth but don't know how to apply it, ask God for wisdom in how to do so.

How then do we let God lead us? Obviously it is something we want to do. We must let God take control. Take Ephesians 5:17-21 for instance:

"17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, 20giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."

Being filled with the Spirit is contrasted with being filled with too much wine. Wine controls in a negative way when a person become drunk, but the Spirit controls in a good way when people immerse themselves in Him. We are to give ourselves to the worship of God, the study of the Scripture, the fellowship of other believers, and other things that we are told bring glory to God. This is how we give control to the Spirit and let Him lead us, by doing what He tells us to do, being obedient to the word of God.

When Jesus talks about the coming of the Holy Spirit he tells His disciples that the Spirit will teach them all things and bring to remembrance the things that Jesus taught. This is how God speaks to us today also. As we worship God, pray to Him for guidance and wisdom, and seek Him in the Scriptures, the Spirit will bring to remembrance the things God has told us, in His word.

When we make decision about buying a home or a car, God might remind us about the parable of the talents and being a good steward with the money He gives us. We pray and think and then make a decision that we believe most honors the Lord with what He has given us. This doesn't make our decision inerrant, but it's a much better approach then just doing what we want and saying "God told me." The same is true for any circumstance. Dating for instance. Should I date this person or not. Well the Bible tells us to be evenly yoked, is she a Christian? Does she hold my conviction about the Bible and things that matter to God? Seek the word of God in Scripture, pray about it and make the decision that you think honors God.

Scripture alone is our authority that equips us for every good work. Trust God's word, not inner voices and urges, you do not know who those voices belong to.

Hebrews 1:1-2

"1Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world."

We have the word of Christ in written form. You need seek nothing else for answers. Ask God for wisdom as you read His truth that is already revealed.

Here is a link on this same issue that I appreciated by Pastor Steve Cornell:
http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2007/05/26/do-inner-promptings-reveal-gods-will/

In Him -Jacob

4 comments:

Nath @ Reformed Geek said...

Amen!

Papa J said...

Your philosophy of Sola Scritura is a really nice way of saying: "I get to interpret scripture and you don't." If you honestly believe that all scripture can be harmonized with only our human understanding please explain to me why there are so many Christian sects. Please don't insult my intelligence or yours by replying, "Well, they just haven't studied enough."

If god had expected us to become automotons he wouldn't have told us to "ask and ye shall find, knock and it will be opened unto you." "If any man lacks wisdom let him ask of God"

On my mission the only sect that I regularly ran into that truly adheared to the "Sola Scritura" philosophy was the Jehovah's Witnesses. What you believe is not really that close to what they do. Why can't you harmonize the scriptures with them?

The scriptures even warn against the man that doesn't seek understanding through the spirit.

"And he gave some Apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unitiy of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God....That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;" Ephesians 4:11-14

Then, if you keep reading Ephesians 4 it goes into an explanation on how to maintain the spirit in your life and how to recognize an evil spirit.

The spirit is the only way to truly discern between light and dark.

Don't tell me Sola Scritura. In doing so you enfeable God. You take away a gift that he has given every one of us and he would have us use and you make our ability to discern appear evil. Satan quoted scripture to Christ. Christ knew the scriptures as well and responded. But what was he in the desert for? To fast and pray. To get to know his father. To be instructed and sustained by the spirit.

I did not convert one person to "Mormonism" on my mission. The spirit always does the work. The spirit is the only path to spiritual surity. You must have faith that god can answer your prayers, or you shouldn't be surprised that you've never received an answer.

risen_soul said...

No Pat, Sola Scriptura is a way of saying that the Bible interprets itself and we need no other authority other than God speaking through the Scripture to know His will. We do not need a prophet and apostles to tell us what the Bible means. The Bible is very clear about most things.

Whya are there so many denominations? Usually and sadly enough, because of small differences over matters that honestly shouldn't divide like they do.

But if you ask any denomination that believes the Bible is God's word about who Jesus is, you'll probably get the same answer: GOD. How is one saved: Through faith in Jesus.

I myself have been involved with a ministerial association here in Ulysses for 3 years now. I don't agree with everyones view points, but those who hold to the Bible as God's word, most of them hold the central doctrines that I do.

My Episcopalian friend and I have different views about baptism (Infant versus believer's baptism) but we both believe that Jesus Christ is to be received by faith alone. This is true with the Mennonite Bretheren pastor, the Assembly of God pastor, etc.

Point being, though there are some issues where there can be reasonable debate, God has made Himself very clear about central doctrines. Like salvation in Christ through faith alone.

Sola Scriptura infeable's God? My saying that God's word alone is the sole authority for how I should live my life makes God weak? Please. You don't understand my position at all apparently.

I believe we are absolutely dependant upon the Spirit to be enabled to understand the word of God. 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 talks about this issue.

"11For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16"For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ."


Only the Spirit of God comprehends God's thoughts, the person who is natural and lacks the Spirit lack the ability to understand God's thoughts, but those with the Spirit have the mind of Christ and are enabled to understand "Spiritual things."

Therefore, why are there so many differences about what the Bible says?

1. Because even Christian who have the Spirit can still be wrong in their interpretation because they are still sinners who can mak mistakes.

2. Often times however, it is because of unbelievers trying to interpret Scripture and then we run into all kinds of problems because they have not the Spirit to understand Spiritual things.

However, God has clearly revealed who He is, His redemptive plan in Christ, and many other things that those who receive the Spirit of God, can easily come to agreement on.

I do indeed believe that God answers prayer, He has many times done so for me. And I pray with all faith and sincerity for God to make Himself known to me all the time. Yet for some reason, I become more convinced of the position that I already hold bout Him and salvation.

As far as the JW's, they don't even have the integrity to honestly interpret the Scripture from Greek as every scholar could and has told them it should be.

Barry said...

Wow, Jacob. 1 Cor. 12:7 comes to mind here.

papj,

you said
"Satan quoted scripture to Christ. Christ knew the scriptures as well and responded. But what was he in the desert for? To fast and pray. To get to know his father. To be instructed and sustained by the spirit."

First of all Satan did quote scripture but he used it way out of context.

The sole reason for Jesus to be in the desert was to be tempted. See Matthew 4:1.

Jesus and the God the Father are one. The bible teaches this. Jesus proclaimed this. He didn't need to get to know Him. He was God. But I understand that LDS teaches error in that Jesus is a God, not the God. John 14:9.