Part 1 of this series established the written Word of God as the only trustworthy, objective standard of guidance for the believer. Now let’s explore four other means of divine guidance that function in subordination to the written revelation of God in the Bible.
FOUR SUBJECTIVE MEANS OF GUIDANCE
In submission to the objective, written Word of God—not in addition to—there are some subjective means by which the Holy Spirit may lead us without compromising the integrity of His own revelation—the Bible. By “subjective” I mean there is an element of flexibility in one’s interpretation of contributing factors that may help a believer to determine the specific will of God for a particular season of his or her life. These include prayer, providential circumstances, a Scripture-informed conscience, and the counsel of godly people.
1. Prayer – Prayer is a great privilege for the believer in Jesus Christ. God speaks to us through the Word, but we speak to Him through prayer. In prayer we can pour out to God our deepest burdens and longings. In fact, because of the intercessory work of Jesus, we are invited to do so in Hebrews 4:15-16, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” One of the needs that we often have is for direction. In prayer, we may ask, seek, and knock until God answers (Matt 7:7). The Apostle Paul asked God to fill the Colossian believers “with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col 1:9). As we cast our anxieties upon Him in prayer, “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7). Again, let me make it crystal clear that whatever “answers” we believe we receive from the Lord in response to prayer must be tested against His written Word. God is true and faithful and consistent. He will never lead us against the clear teaching of His Word. To do so would be to contradict Himself. However, to conclude that God only gives us “cold, objective guidance” through the Word (this is not to say the Word itself is cold!) is not being completely honest with the Scriptures themselves. The Lord may lead each of us as believers on different paths, sometimes as the result of prayer, but always within the “boundaries” of Scripture.