Book Review: Finding the Will of God by Bruce Waltke

 

“Finding the Will of God” is another excellent analysis of God’s view from Scripture on determining the “Will of God.” In many ways, like “Decision  Making and the Will of God” by Gary Friesen, Waltke disposes the traditional view of determining the exact “dot” of the precise, specific will of God in life. God is not concerned with what socks you wear or what car you buy, except as it relates to Biblical principles of stewardship, etc.

Waltke examines the traditional view of God and exposes the “pagan notion” of it. Since the dawn of civilization, pagans have tried various practices to determine the “will of the gods.” They have tried reading totem poles, livers (called hepatoscopy) and casting lots. They have tried watching the stars and talking to spirit demons. Some of these pagan notions were tried in Scripture by unscrupulous individuals and the results have dishonored the Lord.

God did offer guidance in the Old Testament through prophets, Urim and Thummim, dreams, and sacred lots. God even was patient with Gideon when he requested a sign through the fleeces. But as God continued to provide revelation in written form, God expected His people to become more dependent on what was already provided than the quick answer to their questions. He was more interested in their relationship of dependence on Him than giving an intellectual answer that would satisfy logic.

Today in the Church Age, the Christian is challenged to depend on God for living out His will through reading, studying and meditating on Scripture.  With a tender heart of dependence on God’s Spirit for illumination, the believer has freedom to make decisions within the latitude of God’s grace. As the Christian’s heart is more in tune with God’s desires, God will bless with greater freedom. Waltke leads the reader to align his desires by faith to Scripture in prayer.  He also encourages seeking wise counsel as a source of understanding new information, verifying intentions and affirming decisions made.

When the Christian is seeking the providence of God, then God may also provide circumstances in hindsight that verify decisions made.  We will not always understand why and we must never put circumstances above God’s Word. God may allow a Christian to receive his desires, which may be contrary to Scripture, because he has rejected the truth.  That is disastrous, just as it was for Balaam.

Waltke defines that decisions should be made based on the authority of Scripture.  Secondly, make decisions based on personal giftedness. If you have little musical ability, don’t seek to be the music leader in a church. Thirdly, decide based on circumstances. Make decisions based on what God is doing at the time. Too often we believe in direct cause and effect and do not accept that there is timing and opportunities that affect results and outcomes far more than decisions. Who would have thought you could sell something to another person in another state so cheaply 100 years ago, except by Ebay and the mail system people have begun home businesses never before possible. Fourthly, make decisions based on an overall strategy of building God’s kingdom.

Waltke shines a great light with a breath of fresh air to provide freedom in making decisions. He releases those of us who have too long sought to make decisions with pin-point accuracy specifically what the will of God is.  As he said, “As we are led by the Spirit into a fuller understanding of Him, we experience what Scripture calls “the will of God.” (p. 187).

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