Biblical Means of Discerning the Will of God

Knowing the Will of God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  32:09
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We’ve been looking for several weeks now at how we can know the will of God for our lives. Over the last few weeks we’ve talked about what we mean by the will of God and we’ve also looked at some of the unbiblical ways that the pagans sought to know the will of their gods.
Tonight, we are going to take a look at some of the ways that God revealed His will to people in the Bible. Most of these ways are no longer used for us in the New Testament Church, but it is important to understand them if we are to avoid wasting our time trying to figure out God’s will.

1. The Created Order

Psalm 19:1–6 ESV
1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, 5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
Acts 14:15–17 ESV
15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
Romans 1:18–20 ESV
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Two aspects:
External World
Internal Conscience
What is the conscience?
The heart and moral compass of a person
Conscience means “with knowledge”
It’s our internal compass that can be impressed upon and hardened or softened (sometimes referred to as the heart)
Such revelation can seem imprecise
Such revelation never leads to a knowledge of the Gospel or deeper faith in Christ

2. True Biblical Prophets

Most common way God spoke
Predominantly mentioned in the OT but sometimes in the NT
Two Tests:
Deuteronomy 13:1–3 ESV
1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
The tests:
Did what they say come to pass?
Did what they say agree with Scripture?
God would often use miracles to affirm prophets as His messengers (especially if they were given new revelation).
There were false prophets that could make it hard to discern. These false prophets are crafty and can deceive (if it were possible) even the elect.
Matthew 24:24 ESV
24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

3. Urim and Thummim

Exodus 28:30 ESV
30 And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the Lord. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly.
God did not give instructions to us on how to use it.
We were never intended to use it for personal guidance.
The High Priest would use it in the Old Testament, but it was a limited use tool.
What we know:
Requested guidance by the Lord
Only Used by the High Priest
Held in the High Priest’s Breastplate
Josephus claimed that the stones in the breastpiece would glow
Only two choices (i.e. casting lots) - yes or no
Vague answers
Not for everyone to use
We don’t really know much about it

3. Casting Lots

Dividing the Land
Numbers 26:55 ESV
55 But the land shall be divided by lot. According to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit.
Joshua 14:2 ESV
2 Their inheritance was by lot, just as the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses for the nine and one-half tribes.
Choosing a King
1 Samuel 10:20–21 ESV
20 Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was taken by lot; and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found.
Used to make a choice between two or more equally valid options
Difficult for the modern church to use
Difficult to get specific answers
Not mentioned as being used after Acts 1

4. Dreams and Visions

Book of Daniel
We are never told to seek dreams5. and visions
These were sought after mostly by pagans
Usually it was a one time event for the person who had the dream or vision
They were vague and required an interpretation
What was revealed was often negative or undesirable
Never widely used

5. Angelic Visitation

Abraham and Lot (Gen. 18-19)
Joseph and Mary (Matt. 1)
Purpose of the visits was often related to a specific provision in time of need or to God’s salvific plan.
It was not a method that was sought out
Problems for Today:
Not used often in the Bible
We can’t handle it (most people were fearful in the presence of an angel)
Mostly related to divine judgment

6. Supernatural Signs

Jesus’ ministry
Authenticate the messenger
Most occurred with another means of biblical revelation
Problems for Today:
Infrequency of use
It is an evil generation that seeks a sign
Matthew 12:39 ESV
39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Sign of unbelief
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