Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s WillWritten by Kevin DeYoung Reviewed By Andrew David Naselli
Is this yet another book on how to find the will of God, especially with reference to vocation and marriage? No, Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, does not think God’s will is lost, but he does think that many Christians are—not lost in the sense of being unregenerate but in the sense of being indecisive, unstable, unproductive, and misguided. “When it comes to our future,” DeYoung argues, “we should take some responsibility, make a decision, and just do something” (p. 15).
But this is not the first book to make that argument. It is distinctively accessible, clear, and vigorous. It includes enough qualifications to make it responsible but not too many to soften its bite. The argument unfolds over the next eight chapters (chaps. 2–9):
- We should trust God’s “will of decree,” follow his “will of desire,” but not wait for him to reveal to us his “will of direction” (pp. 17–26).
- Christians desperately want to figure out God’s “will of direction” for five reasons: (1) we want to please God; (2) we are timid; (3) we want perfect fulfillment; (4) we have too many choices; and (5) we are cowards (pp. 27–42). “Some Christians need encouragement to think before they act. Others need encouragement to act after they think” (p. 28).
- The mystical, “magic 8-ball” approach to discovering God’s will has five problems: (1) it tends to focus on non-moral decisions; (2) it portrays God as sneaky; (3) it is anxiously preoccupied with the future; (4) it undermines personal responsibility and initiative; (5) it is hopelessly subjective (pp. 43–54). “If we say ‘Godtold me to do this’ or ‘God’s leading me here,’ this puts our decisions out of reach from criticisms or concerns” (p. 49, emphasis in original).
- There is a better way: Don’t worry, but instead focus on God’s “will of desire” (pp. 55–62). “In short, God’s will is that you and I get happy and holy in Jesus” (p. 61).
- God guides us in decision-making but does not expect us to discover every aspect of his plan for our lives ahead of time (pp. 63–74). “Apart from the Spirit working through Scripture, God does not promise to use any other means to guide us, nor should we expect him to” (p. 68).
- Four “tools of the trade” for discerning God’s will “can be instruments of foolishness”: open doors, fleeces, random Bible verses, and impressions (pp. 75–86). “If a thought or impulse pops into your head, even if it happens while reading Scripture, don’t assume it is a voice from heaven” (p. 84).
- There are three ways to access wisdom: (1) read the Bible responsibly; (2) seek wise counsel from others; and (3) pray for illumination, wisdom, and what you already know is God’s will (p. 87–98).
- Applying this to getting a job or getting married is pretty straightforward: search the Scriptures, get wise counsel, pray, and make a decision (pp. 99–113).
DeYoung’s slim, easy-to-read book is a welcome correction to destructive beliefs that Christians commonly follow. It could be liberating for a twenty-something struggling with vocational and relational decisions, parents trying to help their children decide what college to attend, or retired people considering how to spend their remaining years.
“So the end of the matter is this: Live for God. Obey the Scriptures. Think of others before yourself. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, do whatever else you like, with whomever you like, wherever you like, and you’ll be walking in the will of God” (p. 122).
Andrew David Naselli
Andy Naselli is assistant professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis and administrator of Themelios.
Other Articles in this Issue
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Among the many biblical passages that provoke controversial questions about Christian non-violence and cooperation with the sword-bearing state, perhaps none presses the issue as sharply as Matt 5:38–42...