A friend on facebook (Tim Dukeman) recently said:
– I’m deadly serious about this. God doesn’t speak through impressions, feelings, “leadings”, or any of that other nonsense. He speaks through the Bible.
– Nothing in the Bible would lead us to the idea that God speaks in these hyper-spiritual ways. If you hear an audible voice, we’ll talk.
But this “leadings” nonsense is paganism.
– I used to ask God for specific guidance. I have repented of such foolishness.
This was my response:
Tim, have you never read a Scripture and felt vaguely convicted, and then asked God to reveal to you the specific attitude or action you needed to repent of?
I do that all the time. I read something and ask the Spirit to search my heart and bring to mind whatever He wishes. Suddenly I’ll realize, “Oh! I’ve been arrogant. *That’s* not good.” So I’ll repent.
I consider that the leading of the Holy Spirit. It’s Scripturally grounded, but goes “beyond” the Scripture in that He brings to mind something specific in my own life to which the Scripture corresponds. It’s a kind of “revelation” about my own circumstances and heart.
It’s not authoritative. I don’t even have to know whether it was my own insight or something God led me to think of. But it seems silly, after having asked God to guide my thoughts, to say that it is wrong to believe he actually did guide them.
I realize this is not what you meant. But I think it is what you should have meant.
Tim’s further response:
You are correct. That is an important caveat. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. If you feel convicted of sin after reading Scripture, that’s usually legitimate.
But what I said above stands.
Comments? I have a lot of other opinions on this, but I want to organize my thoughts a little before saying much more.
I feel like I’m very much the kind of person who hears from God through the Holy Spirit “leading me” and not necessarily looking through Scripture and a verse popping out at me, though that has happened, too, and sometimes they’re combined like you described. It’s usually very subtle, doesn’t happen just whenever I want it to, and sometimes it’s hard to tell whether it’s God or me. But I definitely have felt God “speaking to me” in my heart and I believe that it’s the Holy Spirit.
Recently I was praying about a situation that is NOT clearly laid out in the Bible, and I wanted to be able to flip to a verse that would just tell me what to do. But the passage it let me to was John 10:1-3.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”
That didn’t answer my dilemma, but it assured me that God does speak to me, and that if I’m really seeking Him, that I will recognize His voice. That verse gave me a peace about hearing from Him.
When I was in New Life and went to churches and did services, when you’re praying about what skits to do, we weren’t able to say “We should do this skit tonight because the Bible says this”. All the skits are good and are able to glorify God! But the Holy Spirit leads how He wants the service to go because it is unique to that situation and those people. At the altar, the Holy Spirit has lead me and other teammates on what to pray for people, if there are people in the audience to go pray for, etc. I’ll admit, during those times I usually don’t get a lot of “impressions” from God because I don’t think He uses me most in altar ministry. (Though I could give examples of times in high school youth group when I felt God “leading me” to go and speak to girls who were by themselves.) But I believe that He does lead, on the spot, when there’s not necessarily a “verse” to say in black and white what you should do. Clearly there are Biblical principles that you establish and follow and learn, but I really do believe that sometimes, for some people, you can be lead through God’s prompting from the Holy Spirit.
Also, a few other Scriptures coming to mind that help me, specifically on the thought of saying that asking for specific guidance is foolishness. Because doesn’t the Bible say all over to seek God for wisdom? Doesn’t it say that He gives it?
James 1:5 “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Matthew 7″:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
How can praying for guidance be wrong when Proverbs and Psalms and everywhere it is sprinkled with calls to seek God, and to chase after wisdom? If I am seeking God and the verses I read are ones that promise God’s answer, that still doesn’t lead me one way or the other! But it assures me that He will answer. For some people he answers through Scripture. Sometimes through people. Sometimes through a song, or a sign, or a dream, or just a heart conviction. I believe that everything He leads you to WILL be Scripturally backed up and He would never give you an answer that goes against His Word. But where is there Scripture AGAINST the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts? For me personally, I see that all over Scripture.
Here’s a whole outline on the subject of the Holy Spirit’s leading: http://executableoutlines.com/hs/hs_09.htm