Monday, July 02, 2007

Decision Making and the Will of God - Part 7

With this edition of the series on Decision Making and the Will of God, we continue where we stopped last time. Our series ended with chapter 11 last time, and so we will pick up the thread with chapter 12 of Friesen's book, Decision Making and the Will of God.

This is part 7 of this series and we are only at chapter 12. The book has a total of 27 chapters and 3 appendices. So, as can be seen, this book has a great wealth of information on the subject at hand. Obviously, with all the exposure the subject gets, it is necessary to treat the subject fully. That is Friesen's with this book.

Chapter 12 takes us into pretty foreign territory for the Western mind. That is, the sovereignty of God in His dealings with man. Friesen goes into the subject of God's sovereign will. Man is not the ultimate determiner of his own destiny. Neither is chance, or fate! God is the Ultimate Sovereign! And He has a will!

Friesen shows his readers what Scripture has revealed about God's will.
1. God's will is certain of being fulfilled;
2. God's will is detailed and includes all things;
3. God's will is hidden, except where expressly revealed;
4. God's will is supreme, yet, neither does it violate human responsibility, nor does it make God the author of sin;
5. God's will is perfect, leading to God being glorified and is for our good.

Friesen goes into detail with each of these points and really makes his case solid by use of Scripture. Even though we are not to be looking for that individual divine dot that shows us God's intended will for our individual lives, God is still in control and is guiding us divinely.

"[Ruth's] faith in God was rewarded when she entered Boaz's field, though she was unaware of God's sovereign guidance. There was no voice behind her saying, 'This is the field. Walk ye in it.' In fact the text says she 'happened to come' upon the field (Ruth 2:3)! Humanly speaking she had no specific reason for choosing the field, but God perfectly, secretly, in detail, guided her within His sovereign will."[1]

In essence, chapter 12 gives us the Biblical data on God's sovereign will. Chapter 13, on the other hand, is more specific and deals with planning, circumstances, fleeces and open doors.

If God is sovereignly in control, and His will is always fulfilled, then why should we bother planning? That is a question that many have asked. Friesen shows how the Bible expects us to plan. However, all our plans should be made in humility, understanding that our plans should be hedged by the little sentence, "if the Lord wills." We should plan in complete humility and with complete reliance on God.

The Traditional View normally uses circumstances as guiding markers in discerning God's individual will for our lives. However, Friesen makes it clear that Scripture never commands us to treat circumstances as any type of authority in discerning God's will about the future. Imagine a fire burning down a brothel. Many Christians will immediately say that it was God's judgement. Now, imagine a fire burning down an orphanage for HIV/AIDS orphans. Will Christians still call this God's judgement, or will it be the devil this time? You see, unless God reveals the reason for something, it will be pure presumption on our part to claim that we know what was behind it! That is why circumstances cannot be used for discerning our next steps.

If a door of opportunity is closed, would it be because God closed the door, or because the devil is trying to prevent the opportunity from being fruitful? Opportunity sometimes comes with an easy open door. At other times the door is wide open, but there is great resistance (1 Cor 16:8-9). At other times an open door may present itself, but need not be taken (2 Cor 2:12-13). Every open door cannot be seen as a command from God, but should rather be evaluated in wisdom.

The fact is, guidance throughout the Bible has always been a matter of miraculous revelation by God Himself, or by God's people using the wisdom God had already supplied. Inner impressions just do not tip the scale at all, and in fact do not feature in the Bible. It is either God initiating the guidance, or people using their God given wisdom supplied in God's revealed moral will.

Next time we will tackle chapter 14 and on.

1. Friesen, p197.

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