Book Plunge: Finding The Will Of God, A Pagan Notion?

What do I think of Bruce Waltke’s book published by Eerdmans? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve long been questionable of the idea we have today of finding the will of God. I largely consider it part of the me-centered idea of Christianity. In seminary, I remember my roommate and I hearing some missionaries talk about going overseas and having people ask them questions after their lessons along the lines of “How can I hear the voice of God?” No one ever seems to question if this is a normative practice or not.

I was curious to see what Bruce Waltke would have to say about these ideas and especially any ways the pagans tried to do such things. While Waltke does have some good points in his book, it sometimes looked like the idea of a pagan notion was an add-on to get readers. There is a little book about the things pagans did to find the will of the gods, but most of the material is how Christians should make wise decisions.

There is nothing wrong with this, but I would like to have seen more. Still, Waltke does go to the right places. He takes us to Scripture and points out that we need to apply wisdom to our decisions. I find it amazing that so many people think God would give us a timeless book such as Proverbs to encourage us to make wise decisions, but then He would turn around and say, “But hey, forget all of that in the new covenant. I am going to make your decisions for you.”

Waltke is also right that too many Christians have a notion of God hiding something from them and they have to work to discover it. The very premise behind this is that God has an individual will for the life of each and every Christian. Then after that is that this will is something that we are supposed to find out. Then after that comes that if we use certain techniques we will find out what that will is. All of this is highly questionable.

I would have liked to have seen something more also on our emphasis on feelings today as determining the will of God. I recall several church services that had pastors telling me to give as a I felt led when the offering plate went around. Nothing from 2 Corinthians 8-9 is ever said about how God loves a cheerful giver. If anything, many times when the plate is passed around, many of us don’t feel like giving anything. Maybe that’s why so many people don’t and think that they can in the end justify their bad decision by doing what I call “Punting to the Holy Spirit.”

If you’ve never read something like this, Waltke’s book is good, but I think honestly a far greater treatment can be found in a work such asĀ Decision Making and the Will of God. I do still think that this is an area Christians need to really discuss. The modern paradigm seriously needs to be called into question.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Some Thoughts On God’s Will

What does it mean to be in the will of God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I recently had someone contact me with apologetics questions and the discussion turned to the will of God. I wanted to know what they meant by being in the will of God. I would like to share some of my own thoughts because I think this is something that is often misunderstood in our culture where we are incredibly individualistic and think all about ourselves.

We often treat the will of God as if it’s this secret map hidden in the mind of God and you have to go and discover what it is based on little clues that God gives you. Those clues could be what someone else tells you or a feeling you have or a sense of urgency about something. You’re also supposed to think that God is constantly trying to communicate this to you. Oh if only you were really listening!

That’s really a form of divination that way. It’s trying to know something secret in the mind of God that has not been revealed. It’s the kind of knowledge that we’re not supposed to be looking for. There is nothing about this in Scripture. You won’t find any passage on how to hear the voice of God. The closest we get is the still small voice of Elijah, which communicated no words at all and do I need to remind you that this was a one-time thing and that you are not Elijah?

In fact, if you want to know the will of God for your life, I can tell you what it is right now. It’s simple. The will of God for your life is to conform you to the likeness of Christ. You are to be an ambassador for the Kingdom of God spreading the Kingdom.

Yes. But who am I supposed to marry? What job am I supposed to have? Am I supposed to go to school? Where am I supposed to live?

These are all good questions to ask, but they’re not questions that you’re supposed to find a secret answer to. Here are some better questions that you are to ask.

For marriage, first off, do you really want to marry? Not everyone does. Some people will be happily single, and that’s okay. (Please stop thinking there’s something wrong with every person who is single. You can be a complete person and be single, but if you want to marry, that’s fine too.)

Next question. What kind of person should you marry if you choose to? You do have some Biblical criteria. They first need to be a Christian. Second, you have to marry someone of the opposite sex. Then you can narrow it down from there. What age do you want? What type of personality? Things of that sort.

Then we get to a question that seldom gets asked. It’s often asked who is the right person for you. The next question is are you being the right person for someone else? What kind of spouse would you be? What kind of spouse should you be? It’s better to work on that before you get married instead of getting married and then having to work on that.

We could go on with this to the other questions. It’s not where should you work. It’s really “What kind of worker are you going to be?” It’s not where are you going to live. It’s “What kind of citizen are you going to be?” Notice that these questions are now about what you are doing for others. They’re not about what others are doing for you.

In this, you also have great freedom. You don’t have to go into full-time ministry to serve God for instance. God needs construction workers, teachers, bus drivers, doctors, lawyers, librarians, etc. Do something that you can do with passion and enjoy and you’re also good at. That’s giving God the best service that you have.

Ultimately, when you think of the will of God, it’s not a big secret. It’s about being the right kind of person. Of course, some moral questions are tough. Of course, you should seek advice from others in what they think is good for you, but don’t live in fear if you choose to live in Baltimore that maybe God wanted you to live in Tulsa. God can use you wherever you are. Don’t be so arrogant as to think you’ve ruined God’s plan entirely. You don’t have that kind of power.

In Christ,
Nick Peters