John MacArthur, in the book Reckless Faith said this:
You have undoubtedly heard people say things like, “God is calling
me to the mission field,” or “God has led me to attend this college,”
or “We feel God wants us to get married.” (Perhaps you have even
said such things yourself.) Christians who use expressions like these
often mean they have had an impression or strong feeling that they
interpret as a disclosure of divine will.
Normally people who make such claims have no intention of equating
their mental impressions with divine revelation. They regard the subjective
“leading of the Lord” as something far less prophetic….And the truth is
that treating subjective impressions as messages from the Holy Spirit
is not really much different from claiming to receive divine revelation.
Though most Christians who follow subjective impressions would not
dream of listening to extrabiblical “prophecies,” in effect they are doing
the same thing.
If we believe that there is no new revelation, then we should not force this into our decision making. I am not denying that feelings are important, but their role should not be misunderstood. We can’t give them the same authority we give Scripture. We can’t just “follow our heart.” We should examine our feelings in light of the Word of God. Too often believers quote Phil. 4:7 “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” without a true understanding of the context or the promise that it holds. This “peace” is used in the Bible, not as a feeling but meaning an “absence of conflict.” After all, if this word “peace” is dealing with a feeling, then based on verse 6 one would have to conclude that it refers to “the absence of anxiety” (which is a feeling): the answer to anxiety is the Gospel, the Word of God that is a “more sure” word than what we have experienced.
So let me just give you a summary of how we can make decisions as believers. There is a diagram I saw in the book Decisions, Decisions that will help you greatly. I will just summarize it in this blog, and then in our final blogs I will give some concluding remarks that will help clarify. We first must be walking in the Spirit: This would include spending time in the Word, in prayer, allowing the Spirit to work in our life and drawing us closer to Him in faithful obedience on a daily basis. Secondly, we must recognize we serve a Sovereign God. Everything that happens does so because He is in control. He has caused or allowed it, and He can still take anything, anyone, and any situation and use it for His glory. Thirdly, we should be praying for wisdom and trusting His providence. We should desire godly wisdom and gather this by study in the Word, seeking godly counsel, and asking ourselves “heart questions.” What I mean is rather than asking if God wants you to buy the blue or yellow car, asking yourself:
“Why do I want a new car?”
“Will this impact my giving towards God’s Kingdom?”
“Will this debt enslave me?”
“How can this purchase glorify God?”
These issues: (1) Walking In The Spirit (2) Recognizing God’s Sovereignty (3) Praying for Wisdom and Providence---run throughout every decision we make. Then I must ask, “What does Scripture say?” I know it doesn’t choose Chevy over Ford, but when I ask these “heart questions,” what does the Word of God teach me? Then, I must ask “What is the wisest choice?” The decision may not be forbidden by the Word of God expressly, but it may not be wise at this time. For instance, do you go on a mission trip and miss work and pay, when you are so far in debt that you are being a poor steward by doing so? Then here is the kicker, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? That’s right! After these questions are asked, then there is this line of freedom that we have in Christ, that should not freeze us - but it should free us! In our next blog we will discuss some other issues that may help or hinder decision making. By the way, if you have read Just Do Something I would also recommend you read Decisions, Decisions two great books on this subject!