By Dave Swavely
: Presbyterian and Reformed
Reviewed by Dr. Larry Pettegrew
14.2 (Fall 2003) : 354-355
Books about decision-making and how to know the will of God are not rare. But Swavely, a TMS graduate, has written one of the most biblical and helpful. The book is somewhat in the line of Garry Friesen’s Decision Making and the Will of God, and John MacArthur’s little booklet, “Found: God’s Will.”
Swavely begins his work by focusing on some key spiritual qualities and motives that are foundational for a decision-making process that honors the Lord. In a later chapter he reemphasizes the importance of one’s own spiritual condition in decision-making with a consideration of walking in the Spirit, recognizing God’s sovereignty, and praying for wisdom and providence.
He graciously considers and rejects mystical methods that are often used in Christian circles for determining God’s will. These include special revelation outside the Bible, supernatural signs, and fleeces. Says Swavely, “Gideon is a profound example of how not to make a decision!” (37). Swavely’s conviction is that God speaks to us today through the Word of God “made understandable in our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit of God, and that is the only way he speaks today” (18).
In chapter four, Swavely nicely differentiates between the different “wills” of God, such as the sovereign will, the secret will, and the moral will. “I am convinced,” writes Swavely, “that much of the confusion and frustration experienced by Christians who are ‘seeking the will of God’ comes from failing to distinguish between the sovereign and moral will” (51). What about such popular language as the “perfect will of God,” or the “individual will of God,” or the “center of God’s will”? Swavely deals with these phrases in a biblical manner.
Other chapters include biblical evaluations of the role of feelings, impressions, peace, circumstances, counsel, desires, and prayer in decision making. He concludes the book with chapters on the principles, the process, and the picture of biblical decision-making.
Decisions, Decisionsis a book that above all honors God and His Word. It is a book that both church leaders and lay-people need to keep in mind for themselves as well as for friends and counselees who are in the process of decisionmaking.