The two "wills" of God?

Status
Not open for further replies.

OneOfHisElect

Puritan Board Freshman
When someone speaks of providence I see that concept as a clear definition of a decreed will only. Mankind has no control over providence. We are simply living out the providence in what we see and understand as time. Again, and no one has yet to address this question, could Judas have refused to sell out Jesus? There was no possible way that he could have said no. Judas had to do what he did, exactly the way he did it, in order for the cross work to come to pass. Every thing that happens had to have been decreed to happen or else God could make a mistake when mankind disrupts His plan and we all agree that God cannot make a mistake.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Mankind has no control over providence. We are simply living out the providence in what we see and understand as time.
In other words, apparent choices are illusory in nature?

Again, and no one has yet to address this question, could Judas have refused to sell out Jesus?
From Judas's perspective, it was a live option, otherwise he wouldn't be blameworthy for it. God could have created the world such that Judas didn't betray Jesus and sent the Holy Spirit to quicken his heart rather than giving him over to sin. Simply because this particular sinful act played a particular part in God's redemptive purposes does not mean that it was necessitated. God can work how He wills.

Here are the things we have to affirm:

1) God is sovereign over all decisions.
2) Humans are free and responsible for those decisions.
3) God neither tempts nor causes people to sin.
4) God's ordinary providence works through genuine secondary causes and effects which work according to God's design according to their own peculiar natures. We can, in other words, affirm both that a hurricane is caused by variations in the atmosphere in tropical regions, and that it is, in a real sense, an act of God.
 

OneOfHisElect

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes I agree that God uses the means to accomplish His purposes. I am just simply saying that those means He uses and how He uses them were decreed before time as we know it began. That is why I said Judas could not have said no because Judas and his decision were the means that God decreed to take place in order to accomplish His will. I have also heard other odd theories about to roll of Judas in God's plan but that is a discussion for another day ;)
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
I am just simply saying that those means He uses and how He uses them were decreed before time as we know it began.
Not sure that this is helpful language given that every event takes place in the eternal present of God's decrees. When we start thinking in terms of decrees "before time began" we end up with causal determinism of some sort. That is, if we affirm the reality of secondary causation and begin thinking of God's decrees as taking place "before time" (which is itself confused) then we end up with a Christianized deism where God initiates first causes and then intervenes in the clockwork of the world from time to time, but by and large there are chains of cause and effect that could not be otherwise.

As for our Judas case, it's fairly clear, even within the text, that Judas' essential moral freedom is preserved, as Pharaoh's was, and yet God is giving him over to evil precisely because Judas had chosen it. One of the sobering things about the narrative is how it illustrates that God often punishes by giving people exactly what they want, which is sin, and is gracious when He removes it.

A further question would be how prayer works within the decrees of God.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
From one of my new favorite sources:
The Puritan writings on providence are easy to read, yet they are deeply thought provoking. They are biblically focused, yet they throb with a sense of God’s ongoing activity. They are rigorously Reformed, yet they are wonderfully sensitive to human pain. They were written for people living in a time of social, political, and religious upheaval in the seventeenth century. They were written for people who knew a great deal of the angst that we moderns often mistakenly view as peculiarly modern or even postmodern. The Puritan writings also apply to people in the twenty-first century who suffer massive change. More than that, they spell out clearly some biblical principles that Christians today desperately need to hear:

• God is in control of His universe.
• God is working out His perfect purposes, also in my life.
• God is not my servant.
• God’s ways are far more mysterious and wonderful than I can understand.
• God is always good; I can always trust Him.
• God’s timetable is not the same as mine.
• God is far more interested in what I become than in what I do.
• Freedom from suffering is not promised in the Christian gospel.
• Suffering is an integral part of the Christian life.
• God works through suffering to fulfill His purposes in me.
• God’s purposes, not mine, are what bring Him glory.
• God enables me to read His providences through the lens of His Word.
• I have few greater pleasures than tracing the wonders of God’s ways.


Beeke, J. R., & Jones, M. (2012). A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (p. 177). Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books.
 

Ben_Ives

Puritan Board Freshman
There is also a "prescriptive will" of God, that is, God's will for mankind. E.g. Don't steal, don't lie, don't commit adultery. His permissive will is that He allows us to steal, lie and commit adultery.

"In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11).
I agree with this, God's decretive will includes everything that will happen including all sorts of wickedness. However the elect included in the covenant of redemption are secure according to the decretive will of God.

But there is also the precletive will of God, which is what we pray for in the Lord's prayer: "thy will be done". God wills that all men repent and will be obedient to His law. It is not possible for this to happen so God sent His Son to fulfil the law on our behalf. Because it is not possible for God to lie, he is eternally righteous, and has decreed that all sin will be paid for by death, so the only possible way was for the Christ of God to pay the penalty for sin.

I came across this concept when studying the difference between the general call of the gospel (we are commanded to go into all the world and to preach the gospel to every creature), and the effectual calling of the Holy Spirit which only comes to the elect.

The question is sometimes asked - is God fair by commanding all men to repent and yet supplying grace to do so unto the elect? The answer is that God's free offer of salvation to all is a genuine offer to all (genuine AKA bona fide):

b. It is a bona fide calling. The external calling is a calling in good faith, a calling that is
seriously meant. It is not an invitation coupled with the hope that it will not be
accepted. When God calls the sinner to accept Christ by faith, He earnestly desires this;
and when He promises those who repent and believe eternal life, His promise is
dependable. This follows from the very nature, from the veracity, of God. It is
blasphemous to think that God would be guilty of equivocation and deception, that He
would say one thing and mean another, that He would earnestly plead with the sinner
to repent and believe unto salvation, and at the same time not desire it in any sense of
the word. The bona fide character of the external call is proved by the following passages
of Scripture: Num. 23:19; Ps. 81:13-16; Prov. 1:24; Isa. 1:18-20; Ezek. 18:23,32; 33:11; Matt.
21:37; II Tim. 2:13. The Canons of Dort also assert it explicitly in III and IV, 8. Several
objections have been offered to the idea of such a bona fide offer of salvation. (1) One
objection is derived from the veracity of God. It is said that, according to this doctrine,
He offers the forgiveness of sins and eternal life to those for whom He has not intended
these gifts. It need not be denied that there is a real difficulty at this point, but this is the
difficulty with which we are always confronted, when we seek to harmonize the
decretive and the preceptive will of God, a difficulty which even the objectors cannot
solve and often simply ignore. Yet we may not assume that the two are really
contradictory. The decretive will of God determines what will most certainly come to
pass (without necessarily implying that God really takes delight in all of it, as, for
instance, in all kinds of sin), while the preceptive will is man’s rule of life, informing
him as to what is well pleasing in the sight of God. Furthermore, it should be borne in
mind that God does not offer sinners the forgiveness of sins and eternal life
unconditionally, but only in the way of faith and conversion; and that the righteousness
of Christ, though not intended for all, is yet sufficient for all.


Systematic Theology by Lewis Berkof pp512, Part 4: THE DOCTRINE OF THE APPLICATION OF THE WORK OF REDEMPTION , Chapter 6: Regeneration and Effectual Calling, Part C External Calling
 

Toasty

Puritan Board Sophomore
I am just simply saying that those means He uses and how He uses them were decreed before time as we know it began.
Not sure that this is helpful language given that every event takes place in the eternal present of God's decrees. When we start thinking in terms of decrees "before time began" we end up with causal determinism of some sort. That is, if we affirm the reality of secondary causation and begin thinking of God's decrees as taking place "before time" (which is itself confused) then we end up with a Christianized deism where God initiates first causes and then intervenes in the clockwork of the world from time to time, but by and large there are chains of cause and effect that could not be otherwise.

As for our Judas case, it's fairly clear, even within the text, that Judas' essential moral freedom is preserved, as Pharaoh's was, and yet God is giving him over to evil precisely because Judas had chosen it. One of the sobering things about the narrative is how it illustrates that God often punishes by giving people exactly what they want, which is sin, and is gracious when He removes it.

A further question would be how prayer works within the decrees of God.
His freedom was preserved because his actions flowed from his heart. Correct?
 

Ben_Ives

Puritan Board Freshman
Basically Judas did exactly what he wanted to do at every point in time, and made decisions based on his senses, his thoughts and using every aspect of his reason in an identical way in which any regenerate saint of God has the full capacity to do.

The only difference between Judas and the apostle John, was that God hated Judas, but loved John. Roman 9:20
 

OneOfHisElect

Puritan Board Freshman
Basically Judas did exactly what he wanted to do at every point in time, and made decisions based on his senses, his thoughts and using every aspect of his reason in an identical way in which any regenerate saint of God has the full capacity to do.

The only difference between Judas and the apostle John, was that God hated Judas, but loved John. Roman 9:20
Are you saying that Judas was regenerated? And if so, does God hate some of those who are?
 

OneOfHisElect

Puritan Board Freshman
His freedom was preserved because his actions flowed from his heart. Correct?
Right. God did not cause Judas to sin. Judas caused Judas to sin, even as that action was within the will of God.
God does not "cause" anyone to do anything. To say He caused Judas to do something means that Judas did not want to but God forced Him to. I think when we use "cause" we confuse the idea of pure providence. Just my opinion.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
To say He caused Judas to do something means that Judas did not want to but God forced Him to.
Ok, so then we cannot say that Judas sinned of necessity. If Judas sinned of necessity, then either a) it was because God caused him to do so or b) because forces other than God compelled Judas to sin (ie: a deterministic chain of causal necessity). But in either case, then sin was not really chosen, as Judas had no other real options. Judas' choice was contingent in nature.

All that is to say, that the relation between human wills and the Divine will is complex, and we can affirm the reality of the sovereignty and providence of God over all events while still acknowledging real human choice.
 

Ben_Ives

Puritan Board Freshman
Basically Judas did exactly what he wanted to do at every point in time, and made decisions based on his senses, his thoughts and using every aspect of his reason in an identical way in which any regenerate saint of God has the full capacity to do.

The only difference between Judas and the apostle John, was that God hated Judas, but loved John. Roman 9:20
Are you saying that Judas was regenerated? And if so, does God hate some of those who are?
No I am not saying that Judas was regenerated.

I'm saying that the free will of man is a complete doctrine in and of itself, everyone possesses a, 'free will'. Regenerated and non-regenerated people alike all have a free will in an absolute sense that is not dependant on anything.

The fact that an elect child of God chooses to follow God of his own free will is completely consistent with this statement.

When a person is regenerated, they are simultaneously justified and then adopted into the family of God. God will never then send that person to hell, and Christ said of Judas, "Woe unto him by whom the Son of man is betrayed, good were it for him had he not been born". God would never speak this way about his own children.

If you want to ask, did Judas ever have a chance to accept Christ - the fact is yes he did have such, a 'chance', but he was never predestined, but because he rejected his chance based upon his own free will, it increases his accountability in that he wilfully rejected the lord and betrayed him.

The best way I believe to answer the nagging question, how is God able to create a person destined to hell: firstly we need know and understand that the Holy Ghost asks this question rhetorically in Romans 9:19 - and provides for us the answer for us to accept.

The answer is basically - how dare anyone question the mind of God?

If you ponder on a being (with reverence we call Him the LORD of glory), who is infinite in righteousness, and inhabits eternity and fills it with His presence, everywhere in the universe at once with the fullness of His presence, then consider that as the universe has no end, even so God has no end, it will mean that whatever God does or makes or plans is not simply true but eternally righteous. And I don't mean righteous because he is bigger than us and able to bully us into accepting what He says without questioning , I mean that due to the character of His person and His attributes, whatever He says and does, is infinitely righteous also. God is infinitely righteous and powerful and wise, so He is able to create a man who of his own free will rejects Him and spends eternity in hell.

So many of our difficult to answer questions can be, "easily" answered when we stop trying to place our own limited wisdom and human capacity in the place of the LORD's when seeking to understand His character. We think that because we only can look and understand things a certain way, that because our brain can't come up with a rational explanation, that there can't be one. OK then - ponder on the eternal righteousness of God, and see if that answers your question :)
 

Ben_Ives

Puritan Board Freshman

Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
Turretin and others were wise to say that these so-called "wills" in God were actually distinctions or modes of the one divine will. Strictly speaking, there is only one will (classically defined) in God
I always assumed this was just a way of us understanding Him a little bit better and not really indicative of two distinct "wills"
 

OneOfHisElect

Puritan Board Freshman
I have really enjoyed all of the comments made to my first forum thread! God has greatly used all of you who commented. I still firmly hold to my original stance on this issue but have also learned a great deal. I would ask all of you to pray for my wife and I as we are now expecting our first child! Glory to God! I hope to post a new thread soon but for now I am formally bowing out of this one to study and seek wisdom for the next coming months. Thank you all again! Feel free to keep posting though!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top