Section 2: The Bible
Week 1: The Bible Is Authoritative
Day 5: The Bible Is Our Final Authority
How often have you said something like this? “I just felt like God was telling me to…” fill in the blank. I know I’ve said that a lot. There’s nothing wrong with comments like that, but we do need to be careful. Later on we’ll have more to say about how God guides us. For now, we simply want to look at a problem that comes up when we rely on our feelings to guide us: They’re not always right.
My wife, Jeni, likes to play a game. When a song comes on the radio, she’ll ask, “What year did that come out?” Or when we see an actor or actress on TV, she’ll ask, “What else have we seen them in?” The game can take on endless variations. That’s what makes it kind of annoying. I’m constantly barraged by an avalanche of questions. The fact that I’m almost always wrong and she’s almost always right doesn’t help either.
Jeni’s brain is like a steel trap when it comes to details like that. If she says the song came out in 1988, it probably did. If she says the actress appeared on Seinfeld in the fifth episode of season three, she’s probably right.
But every now and then, I’ll have a strong feeling the song came out in 1990, not 1988. Sometimes the feeling is so strong I know I’m right. I’m certain of it. You know what though? Most of the time, I still turn out to be wrong.
How can that be? I felt so sure. Well, our feelings aren’t always reliable guides. God can use our feelings to guide us. But since our feelings can sometimes mislead us, we need to make sure it’s Scripture that anchors our decisions. Our feelings “can only remind us of moral commands that are already in Scripture… they can never add to the commands of Scripture or replace Scripture in defining what God’s will is or equal Scripture in authority in our lives.”[i]
How often do you get a feeling that God is prompting you to do something? How do you determine whether those feelings are really from God? Do you ever see a connection between those promptings and what God has been teaching you through Scripture?
The next time you get a feeling you attribute to God, ask how it corresponds with biblical teaching, especially what God has been teaching you recently (e.g. through the sermons on Sunday, your daily readings, etc.).
[i] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 128.