Finding the Will of God in a Crazy Mixed-Up World
Author: Tim LaHaye
Publisher: Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989
Tim LaHaye has been a great advocate for the truth of the Scriptures wherever he has ministered.
This book is a clear, interesting, and straightforward presentation of the traditional view of guidance, though less nuanced than other traditional books. LaHaye opens with eleven complex counseling situations from his ministry. As the book unfolds he seeks to show each person how God's will applies to his or her situation. He does not add any new arguments for the existence of God's individual will, but draws the reader's attention to many passages where he thinks this concept is taught.
While not directly identifying Decision Making, he is probably referring to it under the sub-title: "Beware the New Fad" (p. 51). He writes, "Recently a somewhat controversial book emerged, suggesting, in essence, that God doesn't have an individual or specific will for each Christian; the book suggests that once you've responded to the moral or universal will of God, you then can use your own judgment and proceed as you wish" (p. 51). He thinks that the wisdom view ignores Proverbs 3:5-6 so that "it's only a matter of time before we begin to function independently from God" (p. 52).
He holds an unusual view on Romans 12:2, even from the traditional viewpoint. The final phrase of Romans 12:2 reads, "that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." He says, "Most Bible teachers accept the three words...as modifiers of one will of God. By contrast, I view them as three levels of that one will." The terms "good" and "acceptable" describe "God's will for the people who fall into sin but then repent and still desire to do God's basic will" (p. 59). This corresponds to the idea of God's "second best" held by other proponents of the traditional view. LaHaye gives it great emphasis and even includes nine charts to show how specific individuals related to the three levels of God's will.
By falling into sin you can forfeit God's "perfect" will forever so you have to settle for only his "acceptable" will. If you stay in sin too long, then only God's "good" will is left for you. "Don't misunderstand," he pleads, "God's good will is a worthy option for the Christian who has rebelled against the Lord and has made many major decisions during that rebellious time" (p. 66). When most traditional proponents try to avoid or downplay this "second best" category of the individual will, LaHaye makes it a centerpiece of his presentation.
One of his signposts to finding God's perfect will is inward peace. "Inner peace is God's supernatural sign that decides 'safe' or 'out' as we attempt to discern His will" (p. 107). "It's wise never to make major decisions unless the umpire, the Holy Spirit-inspired peace of God that surpasses all understanding, calls the decision 'safe'!" (p. 108). In practice he is more shrewd than his principle, for he realizes that often lack of peace is the result of immature anxiety, not supernatural guidance. The "melancholic" in particular needs encouragement to move forward because he rarely feels peace. "His lack of peace was more a function of his melancholy temperament than a sign from God not to marry" (p. 162).
As we would expect of the maestro of temperament teaching, LaHaye includes a section on the four temperaments as they relate to decision making. I have always found his insights helpful in this area, and his chapter 12 gives some excellent wisdom on the subject. He also refutes those traditional view proponents who maintain that God's perfect will always leads to success unhindered by difficulties. He shows how great ministry is often accompanied by great trials. He has experienced the same and so have the characters of the Bible.
If you want a book presenting the traditional view, this is a good and acceptable one-but not quite perfect.