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The Holy Spirit and the Body of Believers in Biblical Decision-Making

As we come to our final week on this series of biblical decision-making, we’ll look at wise counsel. God has provided the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus called our Counselor, and the body of believers.

As we come to our final week on this series of biblical decision-making, we’ll look at wise counsel. God has provided the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus called our Counselor, and the body of believers.

The Holy Spirit is the presence of God with us in our daily lives. He works in us, preparing us for the good works God has for us. What good works? Building up the church, feeding the hungry, caring for the orphan and widow, going into the world to share the gospel. He gives us gifts, which we use in the community of believers, to accomplish this work. The Holy Spirit prays and intercedes for us when we don’t know how to pray. And he teaches us what to say in difficult situations, such as evangelism or when comforting the grieving.¬†

In all these situations and to pursue the work of God’s Kingdom in the world through the unity of the Church, the Holy Spirit guides us, convicts us, and counsels us. The evidence of this is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Toward these things, the Spirit counsels us.

Caveat: This doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit will show us where to park, where to move, what job to take, or where to vacation. (Carol put so well how we take the Lord’s name in vain by ascribing to him the outcome of these decisions, so I won’t go into that here.) When we claim that God told me such-and-such or led me to this-or-that, we disable the counsel of the community of God, another vital aspect of wisdom. Who needs others to help if God is in direct communication with us?

The Bible is full of commands to seek wise counsel and gives us numerous examples of the Body of Christ making decisions together–how to address the neglected widows in the community or whether or not the Gentile Christians should be circumcised. Throughout Church history, we see councils coming together to address theological and social issues. Because each one of us is a member of the Body of Christ, the decisions we make affect the entire Body. Also, as Jamie wrote just yesterday, God has given us the Body for accountability. They have perspectives about us that we may not have. For example, often, we may not be aware of spiritual gifting until it is affirmed by the community, and knowledge of our spiritual gifts affects the decisions we make.

In view of this rich history and because of these reasons, we need to seek the wisdom of other believers in the community as we make our decisions.

Letting go of the notion that decision-making comes via direct revelation from God may be stressful. Where are the guarantees? How do we know we’re making the right or good decisions? God has revealed his will for humanity and gives us freedom within that to make different decisions as long as we do so in light of his kingdom work. And he has not left us alone to make these decisions. He gives us wisdom in the Bible, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the community of believers, and common sense to think through implications.

Wisdom Series:
Part One: Want Fries with That?
Part Two: Knowing God’s Will
Part Three: Living Wisely within God’s Freedom
Part Four: Wisdom Literature

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Heather Goodman received her Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary and currently homeschools her three children. Her writing can be found in If:Equip, Art House, and other publications.

6 Comments

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    Sarah

    I’ve been coming back to
    I’ve been coming back to this all day, trying to figure out what it is that I want to say, and I can’t find the words. I love this overview . . . and there’s so much I want add to it . . . additional thoughts, further ideas, distinctions and caveats, all of it. I think the thing that strikes me most, though, is the huge amount of freedom we have. And we say we want this freedom, but in the end it scares us. Then we want to put God behind all of our decisions. Instead, I think there’s a place where we embrace the freedom and trust God with what we fear. Sometimes we’ll miss the Holy Spirit, other times the community won’t discern correctly, and other times we’ll misapply what the Bible says, but God is in it all. He doesn’t abandon us when we’re wrong, when we do our best and try and fail, and so often there are lessons in that that we wouldn’t learn otherwise. So we step out into our freedom and make our decisions, knowing that we’re deeply loved even if the worst happens. I LOVE that!

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      Heather A. Goodman

      Good thoughts. Jesus tells
      Good thoughts. Jesus tells us, "But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33). When we seek God and make decisions that will serve him and his kingdom, he won’t waste it. (Heck, even when I make decisions directly counter to his kingdom, he often finds a way to use it, as we see so often throughout the Bible, though there will be negative consequences for me and for others.) We don’t have to stress about making the right decision, finding the one, etc. You’ve hit the nail–its about trusting God even as we embrace our freedom.

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    Carol

    Biblical Decision Making
    The Holy Spirit and the Body of Believers: what a Sunday bonnet to put on the decision my husband and I made yesterday. Choosing which house to buy among the many we have looked at, we tried to exercise care not to tempt the Lord with our expectations, or turn wishes into demands, knowing that we cannot foresee the plans he has for us in this new place.
    That God would care at all about the details in our daily lives and that he gives me the freedom to make mistakes makes me feel loved. That he uses the input of others to guide reminds me how much we need each other. That he has in mind purposes that extend beyond personal preferences enables me trust him with outcomes.
    Thanks for this timely discussion.

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      Scott

      house
      how was it the lord directed you to your new living quarters?
      through scriptures? through counselors? through real estate agents?
      did you build? looking at same decision myself. one minister told
      story of buying up older grocery bldg back in texas. also we’ve looked
      at properties in country with cheaper bldg for newer parts? cost benefit
      sqft per dollar

      what was strongest leading from Lord in your decision?

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    phoebhie

    Decisions that are Godly Guided

                              Making decisions are part of our everyday life, simple decisiond like what to wear, what to eat are some basic decisions that passes to us everyday. But there will come a time that you have to make a larger decisions to your life. Decisions that will bring impact to yourself, there are so much of them, from what kind of career you want to pursue to what kind of Job you wanna have, things like that. Making Decisons sometimes are hard to do, but let me tell you this, in every decisions you're gonna made submit it to God for as the scripture say's in Proverbs 3:6 in all Your Ways Submit to HIm and HE will Make you path straigth. 
                           To God Be all the Glory and Praise. GOd Bless!