the will of God

My sister sent me a link to this page yesterday.

the question being answered is this one:

Can you help me understand God’s perfect will versus His permissive will?

I don’t think that the answer went the direction that the questioner was expecting. Go read the answer and ponder it a while.

I remember several years ago, my brother (the preacher) and I went round and round on this exact question. At the time we were both thoroughly Armenian in our soteriology. However, it did not seem to me that it was consistent with the Bible for our bad choices to be able to shift God into “plan B” away from His “perfect will” for our lives. Having that point of view about God’s will puts us in charge and leaves God reacting to our choices and cleaning up our messes.

That simply is not what the Bible teaches, but that kind of thinking is what animates Roger Olson and Wm. Paul Young and a lot of other people who want to help God out.

That discussion with my brother is what started me down the road of rethinking God’s sovereignty in salvation and all other matters as expressed in the text of Scripture.

5 Responses

  1. I believe that God is sovereign and He has a perfect plan. My problem, however, is suggesting that everything that happens, including the tiniest occurrences, was meticulously planned by God from the beginning. Are the sins I have committed part of His plan? I have a very hard time believing that. I can’t believe that humans don’t have some degree of choice. I’m not saying we should take responsibility for finding Him. But I do believe we play some role, however small, in the scheme of things.

  2. Hey Melody,

    good to hear from you. Of course you have choices to make and you bear full responsibility for those choices.

    Did you happen to notice this fourth category of God’s will according to the article I linked above?

    “(4) There is what we might call God’s “permissive will.” This is what God allows, even though it is sin. God allowed Joseph’s brothers to betray him, and to deceive their father, so that He might bring the Israelites (few in number) to Egypt, where God would spare them, and they would greatly multiply (Genesis 50:20). God allows man to reject the gospel, the willfully disobey His laws, to persecute the righteous, and so on. But in all of this, God is still in control, and His purposes are being accomplished. His “decretive will” often allows or permits (His permissive will) men to violate His preferential will (what gives Him pleasure) and His prescriptive will (His Word). God’s permissive will is never outside His decretive will. God “permits” those things which will lead to the accomplishment of His decretive will.”

    the point being that we have the ability to sin and we bear the guilt when we do so. However, every sinful choice is already part of the perfect, sovereign decreed, beautiful, gracious, loving, wonderful, will of God.

    Another example of this in action is that the Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus and plotted to make it happen. they bought off Judas. They rigged a trial with false evidence. They pressured Pilate to do the deed for them with the threat of a riot if he didn’t. All of these sinful acts were planned by God before the foundation of the world to result in the substitutionary death and glorious resurrection of His Son so that we can be reconciled to God “to the praise of His glorious grace.”

    Another thing to remember is that “anything done apart from faith is sin.” Anything done apart from faith falls short of God’s glory and is equally shamefully sinful. I understand what you mean by small sins, but in the point of view of God, we are drowning in sinfulness every minute of every day.

    By the way, why do you want to believe that we have some role in the scheme of things? Why not just trust God? Why not just do whatever you can to better reflect God’s glory today, improve on that tomorrow by the grace of God and in His power and do better than that the next day?

  3. Yeah, that sounds right, based on what I’ve read in the Bible. As for the “role” thing, you’re right, I’ve kind of fallen back a bit spiritually, and I know it really is a matter of truly believing I can trust God, instead of being afraid his will doesn’t match mine. Working on that one through prayer and reading. =)

  4. indeed. lifetime process. philippians 1:6

  5. Awesome. Thank you. Love you. (and so excited that I was mentioned on your blog!! Wow!)

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