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Tuesday, November 2, 2010 | Comments (22)

If you checked in on how some of the most prominent and influential church leaders find God’s will—and encourage you to find it—you might be in for a surprise. Or maybe not . . .

John Eldridge hears from God through books and movies, but at other times God’s voice is apparently direct and audible. You can read all about it in his widely acclaimed book, Wild at Heart.

Bill Hybels reveals his secret to success in his recent book, The Power of a Whisper. Here’s a quote, “Without a hint of exaggeration, I can boldly declare that God’s low-volume whispers have saved me from a life of sure boredom and self-destruction.” He goes on to say, “I firmly believe that God whispers to you too. If you lower the ambient noise of your life and listen expectantly for those whispers of God, your ears will hear them. And when you follow their lead, your world will be rocked.”

Here’s the problem with those views: With constant appeals to adventure and excitement, they lure you away from the safety and certainty of Scripture, plunging you into a sea of subjectivism. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure novel. Exciting? Yes. Wild and adventurous? No doubt. But absolutely dangerous.

But does finding and following God’s will have to be that hard, and treacherous? John MacArthur says, absolutely not. Join him today as he introduces our new blog series, “Finding God’s Will.”

Listen to this 7-minute clip:

Launch Player  |  Download  |  Full Sermon

Now that you’ve heard John identify our only source for knowing God’s will, consider these questions:

  1. What are the dangers of relying on subjective impressions and intuition to determine God’s will?

  2. How does our attitude toward Scripture influence our view of knowing God’s will?


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#1  Posted by Johan Schmidt  |  Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 5:02 AM

Agree 100% with John - God's will is for us to be saved and live holy lives, and long as we live to glorify God, and obedient and repentant, then we can basically do anything we want in life!

#2  Posted by Andy Bailey  |  Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 6:02 AM

1. Impressions and intution are based on nothing more than feelings. We know our feelings cannot be trusted because they are constantly changing and influenced by things as simple as the weather. So to base huge life-changing decisions on feelings is foolish.

2. If you approach the Bible as just a textbook, you will know some of God's will for your life because God has some pretty specific commandments and instructions for His people. But the Bible is way more than just a textbook. It is how we KNOW God. I recently watched one of MacArthur's sermons on what it means to be a slave of God, and MacArthur said that as a slave, you obey direct commandments from God. And where there is no direct commandment, you do what you KNOW will please your Master. If we read the Bible in order to understand and know our Master better, we will better know the Master's will on things about which He has not given us direct commandments.

#3  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 6:39 AM

What are the dangers of relying on subjective impressions and intuition to determine God’s will?

Well...this perhaps:

Note at the 37-40 second mark he promotes "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Bible" as a cherished resource for his sermon prep.

How does our attitude toward Scripture influence our view of knowing God’s will?

James wrote concerning marks of true faith. One of the marks James wrote about is an eager desire to hear the Word of God...James 1:19

Pastors and teachers and professing Christians should have a hunger and desire to know God's Word thoroughly. The product of hungering after God's Word must by necessity produce a keener awareness of what God wants for us and from us.

#4  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 11:36 AM


That’s a sad video. Sadder still are the thousands of deceived people sitting under Ed Welch’s ministry every week. I’m not shocked to see him boast of 2-3 hours “sermon” prep on the day of his message. Nor am I surprised to see his study resources. Your're right, the first one says it all...


Well said. A slave obeys his master’s word. And when no direct word is available, he ambitiously seeks ways to please and serve him anyway. According to 2 Cor. 5:9, that should always be our ambition, “pleasing Him in all things.” John talks about that in his new Slave book.

#6  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 12:46 PM


I intended to write Ed Young in my last comment, not Ed Welch. The latter is an excellent Christian author and biblical counselor. The former...well...we already dealt with that.

My apologies for any confusion.

#7  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#9  Posted by Alana Ko  |  Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 5:44 PM

I think one of the dangers of relying on intuition and impressions to determine God's will is the fact that it is easy to underestimate the deceitfulness of our hearts. we can believe we are following God while we are truly following our own desires. without the 2 edged sword of Gods word we are without hope of discerning accurately the thoughts, motives and intents of our hearts, especially when it comes to our " self" sins... like self-righteousness, selfishness, etc. to paraphrase A.W. Tozer in his book " The Pursuit of God" these are the very sins that are so subtle that they can lie unrebuked at the very altar. Scripture us the only thing that can be trusted in the decisions of or lives, and as for the things that are not clear, my prayer us to live a life of repentence and submission towards the clear commands of scripture, so that when I make decisions that are not as clear, I will have desires that line up with God's desires for me, as I am sensitive to the circumstances He puts in my life to guide me.
#10  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 5:12 PM

Lots of those in scriptures.

1. It is God's will that you should be sanctified the you should avoid

sexual immorality- 1 Thessalonians 4:3

2. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good,pleasing and perfect will.

James 4:15

3. This is confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us- whatever we ask- we know that we have what we asked of him.- 1 John 5:14

#11  Posted by Sam Gietzen  |  Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 1:15 PM

I used to get really frustrated with this charismatic way of discerning God's will - because it simply is not discerning. Nowadays, I'm simply disappointed. In my mind, this type of discernment is just plain laziness. The individual practicing this type of discernment has abandoned the authority of Scripture (and more than likely, the study of Scripture) in their lives - like you've been saying, it's completely subjective in it's core. "If (blank), then (black)" - "If I go for a walk in this park and listen for God, then He will speak and I will hear." It's practically at the opposite end of the spectrum regarding God's will and actually opposes the Word of God rather than harmonizes with it.

God is not a god that whispers sweet nothings into your ears hoping that you'll hear him. That view of God is idolatry. If God was whispering things to you, there is NO DOUBT that you would hear it and respond in reverence by immediately getting on your knees in repentance and submission to Him. Luke 3:8 "... for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children of Abraham." An example of the power of God. If He wills it, it will happen. It doesn't require 'us' - it never will.

Practicing John Eldridges discernment style actually suggests that God has been telling you something and you weren't quiet enough to hear it - it also suggests that God's words are trumped by circumstances / life-noise / etc... until we make the conscious effort to hear Him. This is ridiculous.

Isaiah 55:10-11 "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."

Sorry if any of my thoughts were broken - I'm at Starbucks and it's noon-hour... lots of people coming in and out - my A.D.D. has gotten the best of me! Maybe God was trying to tell me something, but all of the commotion of people getting coffee has hindered my ears from hearing Him... ??? :D

#12  Posted by David Ford  |  Friday, November 5, 2010 at 4:21 AM

Hi John,

Havn't listened to the full sermon, but there is no doubt that we find the will of God for every single man (in every time) completely in the scripture. It is to Repent and believe daily for the "Righteousness which is of God which is by the Faith of Jesus Christ".

If every man had a fear of self, of God, remorse for their offences of sin, and desire to clothe themselves with the garments of Jesus Christ, then the daily walk of victory becomes a reality. Every day.

But first you have to despise yourself and know that you are totally bankrupt and without capacity to perform to receive the promises.

This is the will of God for men, and it is the same for every man, that we might all be made perfect in Christ Jesus. Amen

#13  Posted by Gary Orlich  |  Friday, November 5, 2010 at 5:08 AM

James 1:19 does not say anything about an eager desire to hear God's word. maybe another verse?

#14  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Friday, November 5, 2010 at 9:19 AM


For clarity: Many connect the "Be quick to hear" command in James 1:19 to Scripture. In other words, "Be quick to hear God's Word." It's a valid interpretation. Hope that helps.

#15  Posted by Michelle Peery  |  Friday, November 5, 2010 at 6:27 PM

I have a question in regards to the previous post along the subject of God's will, in response to comment #s 6 & 7? When Pastor MacArthur fasted for 9 days for his son was it something that he took upon himself or was he led/directed by God to undertake it? (Is this too personal of a question to ask?) I once read in one of his teachings /transcripts that we are not commanded anywhere in the New Testament to fast but we are commanded to pray. Yet the tone of the New Testament is an assumption that a disciple will fast. Does this go along with the subject matter?

#16  Posted by Gary Orlich  |  Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 7:11 AM

Thanks Tom

#17  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 9:58 AM


You'll find some answers to your questions about John MacArthur and fasting here: To summarize, John doesn't say he "felt led" to fast. He explains it as a "normal and immediate response" to the news he received about his son's tumor. He puts fasting in the context of prayer, but says it's never commanded in the New Testament. I think you'll enjoy reading about his experience. The format is a Question and Answer session at Grace Community Church. Enjoy, and thanks for your question.


#18  Posted by Michelle Peery  |  Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 3:10 PM

Thank you so much! :)

~ Michelle

#19  Posted by Michelle Peery  |  Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 7:02 PM

I have just one more question and its in reference to the mention of "Experiencing God" by Blackaby and King. I have that book but I have not read it yet - do you not recommend it? I remember reading just one part of it once and what I read frightened me so I haven't looked at it since. I figured that if what I read frightened me I probably need to read the whole book (probably a challenge I need to face up to). But I wanted to wait until I was ready...

#20  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 5:12 AM

I like walking in parks so I can pray and talk to God. I know I don't

hear God speak to me. We read His word, the Holy Spirit guides us

to what He is saying. Important thing as I walk or do stuff, Thank Him

daily!!! :) . That's one way to find God's will. Thankful heart! Applying the fruit of the spirit in our spiritual life. Like- love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.

#21  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 7:35 AM


Here's a quick, safe answer to your question: Stay away from that book; it advocates everything we're combatting in this blog series regarding how to follow God's Will. As the series continues, I think you'll understand why.

#22  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Is 'Experiencing the Heart of Jesus' study book and the others by Max

Lucado is ok to read. I could'nt finish two of his study books, something in the passages turned me off. I could'nt read it anymore.

I shouldn't had wasted $34 for those two booklets.

#23  Posted by Michelle Peery  |  Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 9:22 PM

Thank you again and I must say that I so appreciate this website. I am overwhelmed at the wealth of biblical teaching found here! It amazes me!

#24  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Monday, November 8, 2010 at 8:59 AM


I'm not familiar with the book you mentioned. And to be honest, I've never read anything by Max Lucado. I would recommend you talk to your pastor or church leader--someone with discernment who is willing to give you direction on good Christian books to read. Here are a few books John MacArthur says have had a great influence on his life:

•Arthur Bennett, ed., The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (Banner of Truth, 1975)

•Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God

•J. I. Packer, Knowing God

•D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preachers and Preaching

•D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

•Arthur Pink, Spiritual Growth

•John R. W. Stott, The Preacher's Portrait

•Thomas Watson, The Beatitudes

•Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity

You can order them on Grace Books International: