Making Decisions By The Book: Lesson 3 Using Wisdom
Wisdom and Providence
According to Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann, providence is "the hidden, patient, sovereign enactment of God’s overriding purpose beyond the will and choice of human agents."
It’s definition comes from the Latin, “Pro” means “before” and “Video” means “to see” Providence means “to see before” This means that God sees before the event and plans accordingly.
Theological Definition - Henry Thiessan in “Lectures in Systematic Theology
The Doctrine of Providence. The Christian view affirms that God has not merely created the universe, together with all its properties and powers, and that he is preserving all that he has created, but that as a holy, benevolent, wise and omnipotent being, he also exercises sovereign control over it. This sovereign control is called providence.
Etymologically, the word “providence” means foreseeing. From this basic idea has developed the meaning of providing for the future. But in theology the word has received a more specialized meaning. In this field, “providence” means that continuous activity of God whereby he makes all the events of the physical, mental, and moral realms work out His purpose, and this purpose is nothing short of the original design of God in creation. To be sure, evil has entered the universe, but it is not allowed to thwart God’s original, benevolent, wise and holy purpose.
If we believe in an omniscient, omnipotent God then we believe in providence but be careful because judging providence as it relates to my particular circumstance is hard and usually unprofitable.
Job 38-42 God reproves Job and friends
Acts 28:4 Mistaken reading of signs
John 9:2-3 Mistaken theology based on signs
Deuteronomy 29:29 Secret things are God’s, revealed things are ours.
Wisdom and Circumstances and Events
From our limited viewpoint, some things may just happen by chance. It is not chance from God’s view but we don’t have God’s view unless he tells us in scripture.
Ruth 2:3 Ruth in Boaz's field
1Kings 22:34 Ahab killed
Luke 10:31 the priest and the good Samaritan
Be very careful interpreting a circumstance without divine revelation. Circumstances define the context of the decision and must be judged by wisdom… not read as road signs to God's will for the individual.
Wisdom and Open Doors of Life and Service
Biblically speaking “open doors” are God given opportunities in our service and mission.
1 Cor 16:8-9 Open doors are opportunities not divine guidance.
Col 4:3 Pray for open doors as opportunities not as guidance.
2 Corinthians 2:12-13 Paul passes up an open door. He would not have done so if it were God's guidance.
Open doors then are God-given opportunities for service, not specific guidance from God requiring one to enter.
Wisdom and Fleeces
Judges 6:36-40 Gideon uses a fleece.
"Fleecing" as it is taught today, is determining God's will in a given situation by determining in advance a circumstantial sign by which God can indicate the right decision.
But Gideon's fleece wasn't a circumstantial sign, but a miraculous display of supernatural power.
It wasn't for guidance but for confidence and confirmation of guidance already given. It wasn't an example of faith but an expression of doubt and unbelief that Gideon needed to overcome before fighting the overwhelming Midianite army.
Fleecing to make a decision is foolish and wrong.
A Biblical Model
Romans 1:8-13 Notice Paul’s approach to doing God’s will.
Plan Romans 1:13
Pray Romans 1:8-10
Petition Romans 1:10
Purposes Romans 1:11-15
Commission 2 Corinthians 10:16
Greece 1st Romans 15:23
Jerusalem Romans 15:25
Gift Romans 15:26-27
Rome, Spain Romans 15:24
Principles of Biblical Decision Making
In those areas where the Bible gives no definite command or principle the believer is free and responsible for choosing their own course of action.
Any decision made within the moral will of God is acceptable to God.
In all decisions, the goal of the Christian is to make wise decisions based on the goal of “First and Best”
Providence is God’s business. Our business is the know what He has revealed in His Word and to do it.
Circumstances and open doors are to be considered in making decisions, but are not divine guidance.
Fleecing is a sign of weak faith and has nothing to do with determining God’s will.
To best serve God in your decisions you should plan, pray, petition, know your purposes and your priorities.