October 21, 2003

Bookblog Bonus: Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur

While rifling through the library of the friends with whom we’re staying in England, I was blessed to come across one of the books I mentioned in my God’s Will Bibliography a few weeks ago: Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur. I was further blessed to discover that the book is only 61 pages long, so I sat down yesterday to absorb it in my quest to understand better God and His will.

Below you will find a chapter-by-chapter summary of the book. (I’d love to put most of this post in the “back room” and just give you a link to it, but Blogger doesn’t have that feature yet, to the best of my knowledge. Sorry!) I found the book a helpful third perspective on the issue (to go with those of James MacDonald and Garry Friesen), though perhaps a bit simplistic or lacking in substance. Of course, that’s to be expected given the “mega-pamphlet” format. I hope you will find MacArthur’s principles useful stones to add to your theological edifice.

Chapter 1 – Is God a Cosmic Killjoy?

Principle: MacArthur’s goal is to shed light on “concrete principles which may be simply stated and actually put into practice” to find God’s will for our lives (7).

Quote: “What one needs to know about the will of God is clearly revealed in the pages of the Word of God” (7).

Thoughts: MacArthur’s tone in this passage is a pastor’s tone, comforting and heartening. However, in later chapters he reverts to what I’ve come to expect from him – direct, outspoken, blunt, and occasionally “in your face.”

Chapter 2 – The Crucial First Step

Principle: “It is God’s will that [all] men be saved” (11).

Quote: “God has no reason to reveal to you anything particular about your life because you have not met qualification number one: Salvation” (11).

Thoughts: MacArthur adds that, for the saved, God’s will is that you share the Gospel with others that need to hear it.

Chapter 3 – The Fizzie Principle (Don’t ask...it was a bad metaphor, IMO.)

Principle: It is God’s will that you be Spirit-filled.

Quote: “Why should God show a person something if he is not even fulfilling that which God has already clearly stated as His will” (17)?

Thoughts: I found this chapter to be somewhat poorly presented, full of the sort of theological rhetoric that makes for good-sounding sermons but is of little practical, applicational use. MacArthur’s “Theology of the Spirit-filled Life” in particular was of limited practical worth. While I agree that “being saturated with the things of Christ…His Word [and] His person” (28) is a key element of being filled with His Spirit, I think it’s both deeper and broader than MacArthur describes it.

Chapter 4 – The Priority of Purity

Principle: God’s will is that you be sanctified, growing in purity.

Quote: “It is absurd for a…person…who is living in sexual impurity to say, ‘God, show me Your will’” (32).

Thoughts: MacArthur explores expositorially 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 and finds four principles of purity:
1. Abstain from fornication.
2. Control your body.
3. Subdue your passions.
4. Treat others fairly.
This is good stuff, but again seems a bit simplistic or less than complete.

Chapter 5 – Silencing the Critics

Principle: God’s will is that you live a submissive life.

Quote: “Here [in 1 Peter 2:13-15] Peter calls specifically for the kind of submission that makes you the best possible citizen in the society in which you live” (38).

Thoughts: We silence Christ’s critics by living exemplary lives within society, making the best contribution to society we can make within the law. (We must draw the line, of course, where the law violates God’s commands.)

Chapter 6 – Facing the Flak

Principle: God’s will is that you suffer for Christ.

Quote: “In the will of God, greatness follows behind suffering, often far behind” (42).

Thoughts: This one’s worth another quote: “If you are waltzing through life comfortably, it either means that you are not living a godly life or you are living it…where the ungodly world cannot see it” (45). And maybe another one: “You cannot be accepted by the world and be effective for the Lord” (52). This is probably MacArthur’s strongest chapter. I was particularly impacted by his use of Paul as an example; when Paul was persecuted, people got saved and God’s will was done.

Chapter 7 – You’re It

Principle: “The will of God concerns you as a person. If you are the right you, you can follow your desires and you will fulfill his will” (60).

Quote: “If you are doing all five of the basic things, do you know what the next principle of God’s will is? Do whatever you want!” (54).

Thoughts: I especially appreciated MacArthur’s principle of momentum. Just as it’s easier to turn a car or truck when it’s moving than when it’s sitting still, it’s easier to be directed by God when you’re moving than when you’re sitting still in indecision or doubt. How often have I fallen into this?

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