As we begin another year, it’s natural to wonder about what lies ahead. What will this new year hold? Will we face similar challenges as we have during the past two years? Will the coronavirus finally subside, or will we continue to live in this “new reality”?
And what about in our personal lives— might there be important yet difficult decisions to make? Challenging situations at work or home to be addressed? Are you considering a new direction for your life.
For these situations and more, wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were a way to know how to proceed—how to make the best decision; how to act wisely at all times and under all circumstances?
Fortunately, there is! The key is found in Testimonies for the Church, where we are promised: “Those who study the Bible, counsel with God, and rely upon Christ will be enabled to act wisely at all times and under all circumstances.”¹
What a wonderful promise—to be “enabled to act wisely at all times and under all circumstances”! But there are conditions for the fulfillment of this promise. Let’s take a brief look at each of the three conditions listed:
1. Study the Bible. Notice, it doesn’t say we should simply read the Bible; but rather we are to study God’s Word. Why is it so important to study the Bible? Because that is where we find “the knowledge of God.” But we must search for it. God tells His children in Proverbs 2:1-6:
“If you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
So how do we study the Bible? Prayerfully, with an open mind and heart, accepting it as the Word of God, which transcends time and culture. As stated in the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s official “Methods of Bible Study” document: “The Bible is the Word of God and is the primary and authoritative means by which He reveals Himself to human beings.”² The document further states, “Although it was given to those who lived in an ancient Near Eastern/Mediterranean context, the Bible transcends its cultural backgrounds to serve as God’s Word for all cultural, racial, and situational contexts in all ages.”³
God speaks to us today through His Word, but we must set aside time to listen. If you are not sure where or how to begin to study the Bible, why not begin with the book of Proverbs? It is a treasure chest filled with practical gems of wisdom. And there are 31 chapters in Proverbs—one for each day of the month!
2. Counsel With God. The second prerequisite, or condition, for being able to “act wisely at all times and under all circumstances” is to “counsel with God.” But how do we, as human beings, counsel with the God of the universe? Through the privilege of prayer!
Just as we cannot rush through studying the Bible when looking for wisdom, neither can we rush through prayer. Notice, it says to counsel with God. This implies not only speaking but also listening.
In the beautiful book Steps to Christ we are warned not to “take counsel with our doubts and fears, or try to solve everything that we cannot see clearly. . . . But if we come to God, feeling helpless and dependent, as we really are, and in humble, trusting faith make known our wants to Him whose knowledge is infinite . . . He can and will attend to our cry, and will let light shine into our hearts. Through sincere prayer we are brought into connection with the mind of the Infinite.”⁴
What an amazing thought this is—that through sincere prayer we are brought into connection with the mind of God! And Jesus is our example. In spite of His very busy schedule, we are told in Mark 1:35— “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
If we want to “be enabled to act wisely at all times and under all circumstances” we must first study the Bible and take time to counsel with God through prayer.
3. Rely Upon Christ. The third condition specified in the promise for acting wisely is to “rely upon Christ.” This involves acknowledging that of ourselves, we can do nothing. In Isaiah 53:6 we read, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way.” But, praise God, through Christ we can be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded,” wrote the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:37-39).
When we really grasp how much God loves us, it makes it easier to surrender our will to His all-knowing, all-wise, all-loving will for us. For to truly rely on Christ, we must stop relying on ourselves and surrender our will to Him, saying, “Lord, not my will, but Yours, be done” (see Luke 22:42).
When we rely completely on Christ, He will then work in marvelous ways. We are promised: “When in humble faith we rely on Christ as our sufficiency, our strength, our all and in all, then it is that the power of God rests upon our work.”⁵
So as we begin this new year, let us claim this promise for ourselves and gain the wisdom and guidance that God is waiting to give so that we will be enabled, through His power, to wisely and winsomely reach the world for Him!
¹ Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 5, p. 43. ² “Methods of Bible Study,” Official Documents, Seventh-day Adventist Church, https://www.adventist.org/documents/methods-of-bible-study/. ³ Ibid. ⁴ Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1956), p. 97. ⁵ Ellen G. White, in Gospel Herald, Mar. 1, 1901.
President of the Worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church •
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. Additional articles and commentaries are available from the president’s office on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @Pastor Ted Wilson.