Terms in the Bible are specialized words of particular significance. In Coming to Terms we explore the significance of these terms to deepen our understanding of biblical truth through a question and answer and fill in the blank format.
(Fill in the blanks where applicable to gain a deeper understanding of the term. I’ve used the New Living Translation for the Scripture passages.)
Unpacking the term
Although the word “guide” can be used in a down-to-earth way such as guiding a cart (2 Samuel 6:3), in Scripture its most frequent usage is filled with greater spiritual and providential significance.
The Bible reveals to us a sovereign God who purposefully created all things. From the beginning, He guided and moved everything He made toward fulfilling His purposes (Ephesians 1:3–10; Galatians 4:4).
God has an overarching plan. Through His providence He guards, governs, and—according to His plan—guides down to the smallest detail all He made toward their divinely predetermined end (Psalm 104:10–15; Ephesians 1:11).
What is the goal toward which He is always working and guiding everything? It is the renewal of all things (Ephesians 1:3–10; Romans 8:28–30). Through whom will it be realized? Through Jesus Christ.
Within the scope of His overarching plan, God guides believers toward being like Jesus. God promises that nothing in all creation will keep us from that (Romans 8:38–39; Philippians 1:6).
This guidance is both hidden and revealed. God’s guidance is hidden when He sovereignly works behind the scenes using everything to guide, move, and push us along. It may also involve circumstances, common sense, or following others’ counsel (Proverbs 4:11; 19:20; Galatians 6:1). Because it is behind the scenes we may not know something is God’s plan until after it happens. But all is for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28).
God’s revealed guidance involves giving us directions, instructions, wisdom, and knowledge through His Word. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8). This requires our conscious participation and choosing to co-operate with His plans and obey His Word.
If we want to arrive at the destination God has for us what then is our first responsibility? We must first turn from going our own ________ (Isaiah 53:6) and commit ourselves to live for _______ (2 Corinthians 5:15).
What are our responsibilities in relation to guidance through the Word? We must read, memorize, meditate on, and understand the Scriptures. We must have attitudes of _________ (Psalm 25:9) and ________ (Proverbs 11:3). We must ask for __________ (Proverbs 16:23; James 1:5) and _____________ (Proverbs 1:5). We must trust God and His plans for everything and consciously and continuously choose to obey the Word.
What if we disobey God’s guidance through His Word? We must ask His forgiveness (1 John 1:9). In His sovereignty, God can overrule sin’s consequences and bring about the good He has planned (Genesis 50:19–20).
By what other means does God promise to guide us? By His _______ (Ezekiel 36:26–27).
How does God’s Spirit guide us? Through the _______ (Psalm 119:104–105; John 16:13). God speaks to us through the Bible and we are to read it to discover what God wants of us. The Bible is the tool the Holy Spirit uses to teach us the truth of how God wants us to live (1 John 2:18–27). He uses the Word to rebuke us when we depart from the way, correct us to show the way back, and train us in the right way to go. The Spirit and the Word are there to guide us every step of the way (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
God hasn’t promised any other means besides His Spirit and the Word to guide us but that doesn’t mean He can’t use dreams, writing on the wall, or appear in a burning bush. However, because He has not promised these things, don’t expect or look for them.
What is our responsibility in relation to the Spirit? We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). As we are under the influence of the Spirit He uses the Word to speak to us within our spirits convicting of sin and guiding toward wisdom and Christlikeness. It is also necessary for us to be in an attitude of continual prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This keeps our hearts and minds dependent on and open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.