We make countless decisions every single day, don’t we? These decisions can be very small things like what to have for breakfast or what to wear to work. But there are other decisions that take a lot more time and energy; do I change my job/career, should I marry this person, should I buy this house?
Decisions aren’t always the easiest thing in the world. For some Christians there also seems to be a different question going on in the back of their minds; Is this God’s will? Many Christians think that God has a specific will for every individual and to do something different leads to devastating consequences.
Tim Chester has written a very short (70 pages, you can read it in less than 2 hours) and helpful book called Decisions made simple, a quick guide to guidance. There are books on the market that are verbose and could be shorter, some books that waffle on, but then there are books that are straight to the point, direct and relevant. This book is definitely the latter!
At the start Tim jumps right in and exposes the language that Christians can sometimes use which is not biblical. He says…
“The problem is that people often have a view of guidance that, while it sounds very spiritual, does not reflect the teaching of Scripture”
He gives this as an examples “I’m asking God to reveal to me whether I should take this job”
“While God sometimes intervenes to guide his people, a specific divine direction for your life is not the norm in the Bible. I realise it’s often a deeply held assumption. People read it into all sorts of Bible verses. But it’s not taught in God’s Word.”
I’ve had many discussions over the years like this too, I’ve also used some of the phrases that he gives as example of spiritual, but not biblical, things that Christians can say relating to guidance. In the first chapter Tim unpacks the two ways that the Bible speaks of God’s will; 1) God’s sovereign will, and 2) God’s moral will.
Here are two quotes that give you a little taster of this section…
“We don’t know what God’s sovereign will is ahead of time. But we always know God’s sovereign will when anything happens because everything that happens is part of his sovereign will… In this sense, God has a plan for your life, though you can only see it in the rear view mirror of life. It is a plan that encompasses every step you take an it is a plan that ends in glory.”
“God has revealed his moral will to us and he’s revealed it in his word. Working out God’s moral will is not a mysterious process. We just need to read our Bible.”
Tim preempts questions and objections that people might have and discusses some of the Bible passages and stories that might seem contrary to his view. He deals with the story of Gideon, Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 30:21, Jeremiah 29:11 and shows how none of these are cases of God’s specific will for certain individuals.
So what about ‘calling’ that’s a word that is used a lot? Tim says that the New Testament speaks of calling in three ways; the call to faith and repentance comes to every person, the call to salvation comes to every Christian and the call to holiness comes to every Christian.
“There’s not some mysterious word from God waiting for you to discover. God has made his will clear in the Bible. Don’t wait for a word; obey the word you have. Serve Christ in your current context.”
This is a timely reminder, for the church and for every Christians, in a time where evangelism and missions seem to be increasingly sidelined. We have a task, given to us by Christ, to share the good news with people and to call them to repentance.
Do we factor that into our decision making?
Tim goes on to stress the importance of the local church when it comes to making decisions. Listen to the godly counsel of seasoned saints, learn from the leadership, pray with people, ask for their advice and seek to make every decision for God’s glory.
Our decisions should be made with gospel priorities, gospel wisdom, gospel motives and gospel grace. If we do not take these as the basis of our decisions then we will look to ourselves and might mistake our own wishes for ‘guidance from God’.
“We turn inwards, expecting to hear God’s voice, but what we actually hear are our own desires. And often they are selfish, proud, sinful desires… If you look for a sign to confirm what you have already decided you want to then one way or another you will find something to do the job”
This book has examples of what not to do and the dangers of listening to your own desires and mistaking them as God’s, it has reflection questions, further reading suggestions and a decision-making checklist. This is a short book that is absolutely packed with Biblical truth and you can buy it here for just £2.65! You will not be disappointing.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the book, why not give it a read and leave a comment below 🙂
Tim Chester is a pastor at Grace Church, Boroughbridge, UK; a faculty member of Crosslands Training; and is the author of over 30 books. He has a PhD in theology and was previously Research and Policy Director for Tearfund UK. He has been an adjunct lecturer in missiology and reformed spirituality. Tim is married to Helen and has two daughters.