Decision Making and the Will of God: A Response
Dennis McCallum and Gary DeLashmutt
Gary Frieson's book by this title is controversial, and, in our view, extreme. The following points represent a measure of agreement as well as difference. We advance these points for discussion and debate.
- Many passages cited to support the idea of subjective leading are invalid because they are misinterpreted.
- Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18; Ps. 32:8; Eph. 5:10,17; Rom. 12:2 refer to the revealed, moral will of God.
- Col. 3:15 refers to peace between believers.
- Prov. 3:5,6 refers to learning wisdom from the Word.
- I Jn. 2:27 refers to discerning false prophets.
- The examples of decision-making in Acts and the Epistles generally break down into two types:
- Special Revelation (Acts 13:2; 16:9,10;18:9,10)
- Spiritual Expedience (Acts 15:22; I Cor. 16:4; Titus 3:12; I Thes. 3:1,2; Luke 13:31-33; Phil. 2:25,26; Acts 6:2-4;20:16)
- There is no evidence that circumstances are definitive for leading in the New Testament economy (II Cor. 2:12,13 - Paul did not feel compelled to stay in Troas; I Cor. 16:8,9 - even though there were adversaries, Paul stayed on until Pentecost). The decision to either use or pass up an "open door" was based on spiritual expedience.
- While God can lead through inner feelings, any leading based on feelings can only be tentatively held. Furthermore, where the Word is clear, feelings must be overruled.
- The proper role of feelings is, in general, to respond to God's will, not to interpret God's will.
- God does provide guidance through gifts which involve intuition. Prophecy (Acts 11:27-30; Gal. 2:2), distinguishing of spirits (I Cor. 12:8), tongues and interpretation (I Cor. 12:10) and knowledge (or discernment I Cor. 12:8) are all gifts in which intuition plays a major role. However, it should be noted that:
- Whenever possible, guidance from such gifts is subjected to the objective test of scripture (I Cor. 14:29; I Cor. 12:1-3; I Jn. 4:1-3).
- The quality of life of the gifted person is to be closely scrutinized (Mt. 7:15-20).
- The content of such guidance in the New Testament tends to relate to the ministry of the church rather than to private, personal interests (see Acts 11:27ff).
- The "leading of the Holy Spirit" could refer to the Holy Spirit reminding and convicting the believer of God's moral will in specific situations (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 10:16). It could also refer, at times, to direct intuitive verbal communication.
- It also seems to involve empowering the believer to do God's moral will (Gal. 5:18 - content; Rom. 8:14 - content)
- The role of prayer in guidance includes:
- Asking for wisdom (James 1:5) - the illumination of the mind to view the situation from the perspective of God's revealed will.
- Sensitizing the believer to conviction of God's moral will.
- Reflection on data relevant to the situation.
- Resolving to do God's moral will (Mt. 26:36-46) and asking for the power to do it.
- Supernatural guidance can occur through either direct revelation or prophecy. However:
- Such revelations are not necessary for life direction or spiritual maturity.
- They are liable to deception and abuse. Therefore, care should be exercised.
- Unless a prophet has a proven record to verify his prophecy (including no errors), he cannot expect others to believe him.
Which of the following "road-signs" do you consider to be useful in determining God's will for your life? Explain the usefulness and/or limitations of each.
- Personal desires
- Inner Peace
- Common sense
- Mature counsel
- Special Revelation (visions, or prophecies)