One of the primary ways God communicates to his people is through the Bible. But how, exactly, will God speak to you personally through the Scriptures?
By a “sign,” all I mean is “evidence for what God wants you to do.” Here are 4 ways to receive “evidence for what God wants you to do” (i.e. signs) through the Bible.
1. Prescriptions and Proscriptions
A prescription is when God commands you to do something and a proscription is when God commands you not do something.
God will never personally tell you to do something that he has commanded you not to do in his word, and God will never personally tell you to not do something that he has commanded you to do in his word. Here are a few examples:
- If you are wondering if you can have sex with someone because you love them and believe you will get married one day, God is saying, “No,” because 1 Corinthians 7:1-9 commands sex only in marriage and to resist sex outside of marriage.
- If you are wondering if you should support your local pastor who has served you and helped you greatly, God is saying, “Yes,” because Galatians 6:6 commands it.
- If you are wondering if God wants you to marry a Jehovah’s Witness who denies the deity of Christ, God is saying, “No,” because 2 Corinthians 6:14 commands Christians not to be unequally yoked and 1 John 4:2 and John 1:1 states true Christians recognize Jesus as God.
So when you need a sign from God, read God’s prescriptions and proscriptions.
Life is messy and oftentimes are questions to God cannot be answered through an imperative statement in Scripture. This is when God will send us a sign through his principles in Scripture.
A biblical principle is different than a biblical commands because a principle needs to be applied to your life and it can be applied differently depending on the present variables. For example:
- We are given the principle in Scripture to be generous, but we are not commanded to give an exact amount of money in all situations (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Each of us needs to apply this principle of generosity to our lives in the way God leads us.
- Christians are given the principle that we should be a light (Matthew 5:16), but how we shine for Christ can vary depending on the needs of others and the abilities we possess. It’s sin to not follow this principle but it’s not a sin if you can’t preach a sermon to a crowd because that is just one way to apply this principle.
- Proverbs 13:20 (NIV) gives us the principle, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” This is not a command that means you can never go on a literal walk with an unbeliever. Rather, it’s a principle not to get too involved with people who reject God because they will pull you away from Christ (James 4:4).
If there is not a clear command in Scripture giving you a sign on what to do, look for a relevant principle and ask God to give you wisdom to apply it properly to your situation (James 1:5).
A pattern in Scripture is different than a prescript or a principle because a pattern needs to be placed in its proper cultural context. For example, just because there was a pattern in Scripture of men having multiple wives is not evidence God wants you to do this because there are commands forbidding this and the Bible was simply recording the history of what happened with the people listed in the Bible, sin and all. But in other ways, seeing patterns can be very useful. For example:
- If you are wondering how much money you should give to your local church, there is a pattern in Scripture where people give 10% for the Lord. Thus, many of us have decided to also tithe 10%. We are commanded to support the local churches we benefit from (Galatians 6:6), but the 10% tithe is not a command but rather simply a pattern in Scripture some have found useful to still follow.
- There is no clear command in the Bible that a woman should be inviting towards the man she is romantically interested in, but through the pattern we see in Ruth, Rebecca, Abigail, we can see that a woman being proactive in relationships is good.
- A man is not told exactly how to pursue a woman in the Bible, but through the pattern of men initiating marriage throughout Scripture, as men we can see that being proactive is good.
While it takes a bit more digging and research, seeing patterns in Scripture is a way in which God can send you evidence on what he wants you to do.
4. Praying the Scriptures
Scripture is always more authoritative than our personal experiences with the Lord. But this does not mean God will not send us personal signs in our hearts.
However, the best way to confirm that you truly are getting a sign from God in your heart to do something or not do something is by comparing it to Scripture and praying Scripture.
When your prayers are saturated with biblical language, and you are hearing the Holy Spirit’s personal leading that aligns with biblical prescripts and principles, this is a good sign God truly is leading you to do something.
Do you know about the other ways in which God will send you a sign besides using the Bible? Here is an article where I cover that topic, 3 Ways God Will Reveal His Personal Will to You (Besides Using the Bible and Prayer).