Why I Discourage Seeking Signs

Are you really on the right path? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There’s an oddity in the Christian community that so many Christians are caught up in seeking signs to justify their decisions. How many of us have seen people make very foolish decisions based on signs? This is not to say that signs do not happen at times, but this is to say that we should not be consistently seeking them, as if God is arranging all the works of the universe around any one of us individually. Sometimes, some things just happen. The Christian’s main route to decision making is not to be looking for signs, but in using sound thinking, especially sound thinking informed by Scripture.

When we look in Scripture, signs are quite regularly condemned. Gideon looks for a sign repeatedly, but these signs are actually indicators that he does not have the faith that he should and in fact, he needs them repeatedly. Jesus condemns a generation that asks for a sign and says the only sign that they will be given is the resurrection. Of course, someone could say “What about Hezekiah? He asked for a sign that he was truly healed.” Yes. Hezekiah asked for one because he’d been given two different messages. Both of them were from God and one reversed the other so he needed to know which one God was truly authenticating.

Today, we look at most anything that we see as if it was a sign. This isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, it was also going on back in the Civil War with each side of the war trying to interpret providence. Most of us have a hard enough time trying to understand what our own spouse is saying a lot of the time. Why should we think that we are going to be able to understand the way God is interacting with reality which has numerous numerous facets that we do not understand? Even sadder when we do this is that we often end up neglecting Scripture which we know He is behind and not treating that message as seriously.

When signs show up in the Bible, they are often there because God is wanting people to do something that is contrary to the way of wisdom. In Scripture, we have a whole book called Proverbs that is all about wise decision making. Perhaps if we are wanting to make a decision, we should consider the route of Proverbs? Let’s consider an important decision like marriage. When it came time for me to marry, what did I do? I looked at the situation. I looked at the things I knew about the woman I was wanting to marry (And I did end up marrying her) and I prayed and studied my Bible and I also took the step of talking to people who I deemed to be wise counselors. This last one is one that we often do not do as well, or sadly when we do do it, we end up not listening to them.

We have often made it a habit of interpreting the Scripture by our experiences. The reverse is true. We should interpret our experiences by Scripture. For those of us especially who claim to be of the Protestant tradition and say that Scripture is our final authority, it looks too often as if we are the final authority. What happens to us determines the way reality is. Along these lines, it can be our feelings that tell us what is going on in the world and how we are to live instead of letting our lives be guided by Scripture. If your feelings tell you one thing and Scripture tells you another, your feelings are wrong. It does not change that you are experiencing them of course, but it does mean you don’t have to listen to them. After all, you can only listen to one of the two if they contradict and if you choose your feelings, you are making your feelings the authority and in essence, making yourself a deity.

The end result is that we don’t think about matters of Christ enough and we listen to ourselves way too much. We become the focal point of reality. We lose the ability to study the Scriptures well and we lose the ability to think well and we become caught up in ourselves. Now I did say God can speak in signs earlier, but when He does, they will be clear, unmistakable, and they will be rare. These are going to be in intense times when the way we are to take really is not what we would expect with the way of Wisdom. Until then, God gave us brains and He intends for us to use them for His glory.

In Christ,
Nick Peters