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Discovering God’s Will

Welcome, young Christian reader, to our second book review written specifically for you!  How did you respond to our first review?  Did you read the review?  Better yet, did you go out and buy the recommended books, and have you begun to read and study them?  I hope at least some of you have, and that others of you will.  That, after all, is the purpose of these reviews—to get you to read the books.  So, set aside some of your hard-earned money and go spend a few dollars on a good book!

I also want to encourage you to respond.  You haven’t forgotten the two favors I asked of you in our first review, have you?  I asked you to write to either Mr. Harbach, the editor, or to me, telling us what you think of the books, and suggesting some of your own.  Please do this, so that I may be helped by your input, as I desire to help you.

In this second review I would like to call your attention to a small paperback book (125 pp), entitled Discovering God’s Will.  It is written by Sinclair B. Ferguson and published by The Banner of Truth Trust (1982, reprinted in 1984).  Ferguson is a Reformed minister of the Church of Scotland, and currently serves as a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.  Do not let the author’s credentials scare you away from this book, however, because it is written in a very readable and understandable style, for the average young person.

This is a book about how the Christian is guided by God in life, and how he may come to discern the will of God in connection with the many circumstances and choices that face him in this present world.  I trust that being guided by God and discovering God’s will is important to you, young person.  You are at a critical junction in your life, when many important decisions have to be made, such as choosing a specific vocation, and along with that, whether to continue your education at a college or pursue some line of work right after high school; deciding on whether to marry or remain single, and along with that, when and with whom to date.  But in addition to these major choices, there are the common, everyday decisions that must be made.  Various courses of action confront you all the time.  And in these matters you want to be guided by God, don’t you?  You have the desire to be led by Him in the way of life that is pleasing to Him, do you not?  You want your life to be lived in the will of God, isn’t that right?  And so you ask, “How can I know what the will of the Lord is for me?  Where can I find the guidance I need?”  This book directs you to the answers to these questions.

However, if you are looking for ‘quick and easy’ answers to your questions concerning the will of God for your life, you will not find them in this book.  That is because Ferguson realizes (as you must!) that God’s guidance for our lives is not found by reading a book about guidance.  The author puts it well in his Introduction: “All that a book on guidance can do for us is to underscore the ways in which God has promised to reveal His purposes to His people, and the principles which He characteristically employs to guide them.  As will become clear in the pages which follow, there is no avoiding, and no substitute for, the sometimes long, arduous experience of discovering the will of God in our lives” (his emphasis).  What this means, young people, is this: discovering God’s will is a process, a process that takes time, and therefore a process that requires on your part patience and waiting on God (Ferguson has a chapter on this too—‘Wait For the Lord’).

What then does Ferguson write about in this book and how is it of help?  Very simply, he directs you to the Scriptures.  This is his most basic point and the strength of his book.  It is from the Scriptures that you will come to discern the will of God; it is your only rule for guidance.  From the Bible you will be taught concerning your Guide Himself and how He works in the lives of His people.  From the Word with its commandments, principles, and examples, you will be taught concerning yourself and what God expects of you in terms of life-style and conduct, and with regard to vocation and marriage.  These are the subjects which Ferguson treats in the chapters of this book.  Hence, what discovering God’s will comes down to, according to this author, is this:  knowing God’s Word, growing in its wisdom, and walking in obedience to it.  It is this emphasis which makes this book so helpful.

Another fine feature of the book is Ferguson’s emphasis on the Christian’s assurance that God is guiding him and will guide him in the future.   He begins and closes the book with this emphasis, focusing on the familiar Psalm 23, in which the believer confesses, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  His last chapter, ‘He Leads Me,’ is excellent.  This assurance is vital to your struggle to discover God’s will for you, young Christian.  Whatever the circumstances of your life may be (and none of ours are the same!), you must live out of the conviction that God has determined your path, that He leads you down it to His glory, and that He will bring you to the destiny He has planned—your eternal salvation.

In conclusion, I recommend this book to you.  If you are looking for help in this area, this small volume will set you in the right direction.

Until next time—good reading!