The Sufficiency of Scripture in Decision Making
For the less adventurous among us who don’t like to take many risks, especially big ones, how handy it would be if God would give us a clear, detailed roadmap for our life and a smartphone app that guarantees we won’t take a wrong turn through a bad decision! If that resonates with you or that’s what you’re looking for, I’m the bearer of bad news. You won’t find a detailed roadmap nor any app or app-like tool in the Bible. But, does that make Scripture any less valuable or less useful for decision-making? The answer is an emphatic, “No!”
God has delivered his word through both the Old and New Testaments “to be the rule of faith and life” (Westminster Confession of Faith 1.2). Put slightly differently, borrowing from another confessional document, “The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of man” (Westminster Shorter Catechism #3). Even a cursory reading of the Bible shows the Catechism’s summation to be true. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Dt. 6:4 ESV) is clearly a statement to embrace as our own belief. “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler” (1 Pet. 4:15 ESV) is a statement of duty—live your life according to God’s standards of truth, beauty, and goodness to honor Christ. Both what you believe about God and about the duty or kind of life he requires will influence and impact your decisions. Since both are clearly and abundantly found in the Bible—God’s word written—you can be confident that you have there a foundation and framework for every decision you make.
Writing to Timothy in 2 Tim. 3:16-17, Paul describes Scripture as God-breathed. Through this phrase, he gives assurance of the divine origin of Scripture. That origin determines how the Scriptures function. No word spoken by God returns to him empty (Is. 55:10-11). Knowing this, Paul argues Scripture is profitable and useful for instruction. It provides the knowledge that equips the man and woman of God for every good work. This instruction is the doctrinal understanding that gives new eyes through which we view the world, life, and all reality—what we often describe as a worldview. Together with instruction in knowledge, God’s word gives wisdom. That is, it gives insightful knowledge as opposed simply to informative knowledge. Insightful knowledge is necessary if you intend to make good decisions.
Together with providing informative and insightful knowledge, God’s word equips by reproof and rebuke. As the Spirit works through God’s word, both read and preached, that word calls you to account by revealing where you’re in error. It then corrects through instruction by directing to the right way and just path. Through instruction, rebuke, and correction, God’s word trains for righteousness.
The athlete who disciplines himself through training sees changes in his body, mind, and performance. Similarly, those disciplined and trained by God’s word through the Spirit’s work are changed in the process of sanctification. Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17 ESV). A mind, will, and heart transformed by the power of Scripture empowers you to demonstrate in action “what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). Thus, God enables you to evaluate every situation you face in light of the instruction he gives and the changes he makes in you. In this way, you can make good, wise, and righteous decisions.
Can we have certainty that any given decision is a good one or the right one? Given both the fallen world in which we live and our own ongoing struggle with sin combined with our finitude, it would be foolish to say we can be entirely certain. However, the Lord Jesus promised not to leave his people as orphans. He sent his Holy Spirit to “guide you into all truth” (Jn. 16:13). And centuries before, God promised if you trust him, if you don’t lean on our own understanding, and you acknowledge him in all your ways, he’ll keep you on the straight path (Prov. 3:5-6).
To sum up, God provides instruction—informative knowledge—and wisdom—insightful knowledge—through Scripture. By that same Scripture, as the Spirit works, God changes and sanctifies. Then, as you lean upon the Spirit, you’re able to make good decisions. In this way, the Scriptures are abundantly sufficient for decision-making.
Michael J. Matossian was ordained to gospel ministry in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1998. He has served since 2009 as Senior Pastor at Emmanuel OPC in Wilmington, Delaware. He holds a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Marquette University. He and his wife, Judy, and their Son, Matthew, are all natives of southern California.