When last I wrote in this series on the review of Friesen’s book, Decision Making and the Will of God, I truly thought that I was going to finish this series soon! How I was mistaken! Somehow I got distracted from this series and now it is more than one and a half years later! And, I have realised that a lot of the book must still be reviewed. I had finished reading it back then, but now I will have to do a bit of a refresher to continue this review.
Please accept my sincerest apologies for this delay!
Just a quick heads up on this book, I think that it is the best book on the issue of finding the will of God. It does not include pop-theology on the subject and is thoroughly exegeted to find what the Bible itself has to say on the subject.
Chapter 14, Guidance: A Biblical Model, starts with the following paragraph:
“So far we have seen that Scripture uses ‘God’s will’ in two ways: God’s sovereign will is His secret plan that works all things together for good. His moral will refers to all the commands in the Bible. On the other hand, we have set aside as scripturally invalid a third, commonly accepted concept—the individual will of God. As a result, we have discarded the idea that where the Bible does not command we must find another ‘will of God.’ Instead, we have shown that where there is no command, God provides freedom and wisdom to decide.” (p220)This whole idea, the way of wisdom, that came before this chapter is very liberating in the sense that we no longer have to feel guilty when we haven’t heard the latest and greatest guidance from God. The pressure is off!
Biblical guidance is defined early in this chapter. Apart from describing Biblical guidance, Friesen demonstrates it in the life of the apostle Paul. Friesen sees four ways through which God guides His people. In Moral Guidance, God guides us through scriptural commands. Wisdom Guidance gives us freedom and wisdom where there are no scriptural commands. Sovereign Guidance are the secret works of God whereby He works all things together for the good of those that love Him. Finally, Special Guidance is rare, wherein God supernaturally reveals His ways to a specific person via His voice, angels, dreams and more.
Friesen uses Rom 1:8-13 to show how Paul planned his life. 1. Plans are appropriate (13), 2. Paul prayed about his plans for their accomplishment (8-10), 3. Paul submitted himself and his plans to God’s will (10), 4. Paul’s plans were based on spiritual goals, 5. Paul prioritised his spiritual goals.
Chapter 15 leads us into Special Guidance and Decision Making. Once again Friesen stresses the point that Special Guidance is rare. From here Friesen gives examples of Special Guidance through the Bible, such as the pillar of cloud, prophets, angelic voices and visions.
It is important to note that Friesen does not deny that God does speak to us in special ways at times. However, these times are very rare, and it comes sovereignly from God.
Friesen also answers the question surrounding so-called prophets today and so-called sensing the Lord speaking. He writes:
“Let me boldly state the obvious. If you are not sure whether you heard directly from God, you didn’t.” (p239)I am also of the opinion that if God spoke you would know that He spoke. Friesen makes it clear that if we are left uncertain as to whether we really heard from God or not, it will simply be a guessing game.
Next, in Chapter 16, Making a Good Thing Better, Friesen deals with interpretive and application difficulties. He shows how the traditional view, that of seeking for a third will of God leads to great inconsistencies. Either you follow God’s leading through this method in all decisions of life, little ones included, or you are walking inconsistently with “God’s will.” Bad decisions can always be blamed on God and delays can be costly due to a person’s “waiting” on God.
The way of wisdom does not let someone hide his motives behind “God’s leading!” Further, the wisdom view teaches a person to grow up and to become decisive. While in the traditional view there can hardly ever be any certainty, within the wisdom view there is no such problem.
Chapter 17, A New Way of Seeing, shows how the same sources of information are before us whether we use the traditional view for guidance or whether we use the way of wisdom. Friesen explains that while the information for guidance remains the same, the two views approach the data quite differently. The traditional view looks for road signs pointing to God’s individual will, while the way of wisdom pursues a wise decision within God’s moral will.
Finally, we reach the last chapter, chapter 18, Practicing the Presence, of Part 3 of the book. Friesen writes:
“My contention is that equating our inner impressions with the voice of God is a misinterpretation of our experience. And the idea that the way of wisdom excludes God from our decision making is a caricature of what the Scriptures plainly teach.” (p270)Friesen makes some suggestions about how a person that has become convinced of the way of wisdom can move from the traditional view to the way of wisdom.
Next Friesen suggests that because God is invisible, and He is God, our relationship with Him will be different from that of humans. However, we need to build a personal relationship with God.
Friesen explains how we build relationship with God as Trinity.
While the traditional method is always based on the premise that we need “to know what God wants us to do; God wants us to know Him.” (p285) God’s concern in our relationship with Him is less about what we do than with who we are.
So, we have come to the end of Part 3 with chapter 18. Next we will move into Part 4, Deciding the Big Ones: The Wisdom View Applied.
So, until next time, you could perhaps go back to the beginning of this series of the review of Friesen’s book.