What did God want Pharaoh to do?

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Tom Servo

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi, all. I'm working through some ideas on the two wills of God as part of a Sunday School class on "The Pleasures of God" by John Piper. In that book is his much-discussed article/chapter "Are There Two Wills In God? Divine Election and God's Desire For All To Be Saved"

This article has been discussed before (here, here and here). While it seems that most people agree (more or less) with the distinctions between God's secret and revealed will, or Gis volitional will and moral will, it appears that some have a disagreement with John Piper (and others) over the nature of God's desires. John Piper argues that there are many instances in which God does desire something while in another sense he does not desire it. Others argue that it's incorrect to attach any sort of sense of "desire" to God's moral, revealed will.

Previous threads on the subject have bounced around to many topics, so I thought I might just put it this way, using Ex. 4:21-23:

And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’”


We clearly see here God's secret will (that Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go, so that He could glorify Himself by showing his power over Egypt), and we see God's moral standards for Pharaoh (that Pharaoh should let the Israelites go). Is it correct, then, to say that in one sense God desired that Pharaoh should let the Israelites go, while in another sense He desired that Pharaoh should not let the Israelites go?
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
God WANTED Pharaoh to glorify Himself and He ordered the events in the most optimum way to bring about that result. The details were ordered in such a way that we would be drawn into the story that we might also glorify the Almighty One.
 

JML

Puritan Board Junior
And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’”

We clearly see here God's secret will (that Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go, so that He could glorify Himself by showing his power over Egypt), and we see God's moral standards for Pharaoh (that Pharaoh should let the Israelites go). Is it correct, then, to say that in one sense God desired that Pharaoh should let the Israelites go, while in another sense He desired that Pharaoh should not let the Israelites go?


I don't see two desires or wills at all. I see that God gave a command to Pharaoh through Moses: "Let my son go that he may serve me..." and the will of God was revealed "But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go."

God commands all people to repent and believe the gospel but He only wills that the elect repent and believe.
 

Tom Servo

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for the replies. I think we're all in agreement that God's desires, as expressed in his secret, decretive will, are always fulfilled and never frustrated. It is completely accurate to say that God did not will for Pharaoh to let the Israelites go.

Piper agrees with that too. But he goes on to say that it's still valid to say that, in another sense, God did desire that Pharaoh release the Israelites. While that desire was not all that God desired, and in fact was not what God ultimately ordained for Pharaoh, it was nevertheless a sincere desire. Perhaps it could be addressed with these questions:

I don't see two desires or wills at all. I see that God gave a command to Pharaoh through Moses: "Let my son go that he may serve me..."

  1. Did God desire for that command to be obeyed?
  2. Did Pharaoh think that God desired that command to be obeyed?
  3. Was God displeased by Pharaoh's refusal to obey?
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
David,

The will of precept (or the "revealed will" of God) has no volitional content as to the futurition of actions, but only to the obligation of them. The will of precept simply states what God has commanded ought to be done by man. Whether man wills to do it is absolutely dependent upon whether God has decreed that he shall do it (the will of decree, or God's "secret will").

It would be unbiblical to say that God has a divided heart with more than one will. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God does all His will:

"Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it." (Isaiah 46:10, 11)

"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:" (Ephesians 1:11)

"And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" (Daniel 4:35)

"Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places." (Psalms 135:6)

"But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth." (Job 23:13)
 

JML

Puritan Board Junior
Did God desire for that command to be obeyed?
Did Pharaoh think that God desired that command to be obeyed?
Was God displeased by Pharaoh's refusal to obey?

No offense, but not really interested in getting in a debate over the free offer. Been down that road before, usually ends with people wrongly labeling others as hypers. Either way you slice it on the will(s) of God there are difficulties. But to answer your questions: 1) He commanded it to be obeyed, 2) Have no way of knowing, 3) God is displeased by any and all sin. The difficulty with the two wills is that they are not just two wills but two wills on completely opposite ends of the spectrum plus the fact that there are things that God wills that He cannot accomplish if you go that route. If this is the case, the sovereignty of God takes a major hit.

By the way, welcome to the board.

---------- Post added at 02:03 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:00 PM ----------

I take it you are at Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Mebane. Nice folks over there. Once again, welcome.

---------- Post added at 02:14 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:03 PM ----------

Just to add to my answer from your 1st question to me: God's desire was that Pharaoh would harden his heart so that God could demonstrate His power in him (Pharaoh).

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

Romans 9:17-18
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
David, I'd encourage you to check out this review by our own Matthew Winzer.

Here's a paragraph from it that speaks specifically to the issue you raised, but it is well worth it to read and reread the whole.

Had God decreed the salvation of all men, it would be possible to predicate “that God desires the salvation of all men.” Since, however, God has not decreed the salvation of all men, but has only commanded that all men be saved, and since God’s preceptive will only commands what ought to be done, the most that can be said is that God desires that all men be under an obligation to be saved.
 

Tom Servo

Puritan Board Freshman
I run the danger of appearing to be "picking a fight" the longer this thread goes on. :) Please know that I'm not here simply to argue or debate, but to try to understand this as best as I can. This is a new area of in-depth study for me, and I'm aware that there are many aspects of thelogy where good men will simply disagree. This may turn out to be one of them.

The will of precept (or the "revealed will" of God) has no volitional content as to the futurition of actions, but only to the obligation of them. The will of precept simply states what God has commanded ought to be done by man.

Thanks, Samuel. If I'm understanding you correctly, that God's revealed will is not necessarily what God sovereignly and effecaciously ordains to come to pass, I think we're in agreement there. Ps. 135:6, Is. 46:9-10 and the verses you quoted are clear on that - indeed, John Piper has an entire chapter affirming that idea in the same book that contains his "Are there 2 Wills in God" essay.

It would be unbiblical to say that God has a divided heart with more than one will. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God does all His will.

That's what needs to be discussed, though. Let me be sure I'm empahsizing this foundational point first: John Piper would wholeheartedly say that "God does all His sovereign, decretive will" (and then use the verses you cite). There is no question that God does all that He pleases, and that whatever He pleases He does. Piper's further assertion, however, is that it is not inconsistent, illogical, or blasphemous to say that God can also have a will/desire for something else that He has not decreed to come about. There is tension here, he fully admits, but the desire to relieve tension should not drive us to dispense with the idea that God can really desire something in one sense that (because His desire that it not occur is greater and more pleasing to Him) He does not ordain to occur.

I chose the "Pharaoh" example, because it's one of the few times we see both God's secret and revealed will on display, and so it seems to put things in clearest relief. If (as Piper argues) we would say that God both desired that Pharaoh let the Israelites go (in one sense) while decreeing that Pharaoh refuse to obey (in another, ultimately effective sense) then there is tension. However if we say that there was no genuine desire on God's part that Pharaoh should obey, then it seems that we arrive at more problematic conclusions:

  1. God's "will" (that Pharaoh let the Israelites go) was not his "desire" in even the slightest sense, which seems contradictory.
  2. Either Pharaoh was not guilty of sin (because God had no desire that he would obey his Word), or else God's moral imperatives were binding on Pharaoh even though God had no desire that He actually obey them.
  3. Pharaoh was mistaken to think that God actually wanted Him to let the Israelites go
  4. God was displeased with Pharaoh's disobedience (as evidenced by the judgment He brought) but (hypothetically) would have been displeased if Pharaoh had obeyed (in opposition to what God ultimately desired)

In short, I don't see how we can separate God's moral imperatives from His desires. Again, I am not questioning whether God's ultimate purposes are always carried out - I affirm that they are. But if we're suggesting that God at times can give moral commands that express what is pleasing to His nature, yet in no way desire that men do that very thing that is agreeable to his nature (e.g. Pharaoh's obedience), then it seems we have a problem. And to Piper, it's better to deal with the tensions of understanding the two wills of God rather than to resort to that alternative.

Wanted to say more, but gotta run to prayer meeting. Thank you for the welcome and greetings from Mebane, John, and I'll return to parse out Owen, Joshua and your helpful link, py3ak, when I'm back at the computer. Thanks again for the replies!
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
David,

If I may, I would like to just toss in a few cents into this discussion, hopefully not to confuse anyone, but to contribute.

A chaplain in the air force explained to me the two wills of God. He was reformed, and by no means would he suggest that God has a will that is not accomplished, or is thwarted by man.

What I can say is that it seems that the idea of two wills has to do more with two different perspectives of looking at something. For instance, Pharaoh was commanded to let the Israelites go. Yet even before Pharaoh was given this command it was God's will that Pharaoh not let the Israelites go. God had ordained from eternity past that Pharaoh would not let his people go, and that God would demonstrate both his divine justice in punishing Pharaoh, as well as his divine mercy by rescuing the Israelites.

To prevent confusion it would be best to say that God's will was for Moses to demand that Pharaoh let the Israelites go, and for Pharaoh to refuse. These things all happened in perfect accordance with God's will.

At the same time, Pharaoh was commanded to let the Israelites go, and it was God's will for Pharaoh to hear this command. It would be a stretch to say that it was God's will that Pharaoh accept Moses' request, because that is not what happened (making it look like Pharaoh somehow thwarted God's will).

So to break it down, here are the traditional ways of describing both of God's wills:

1. God's decretive will was for Pharaoh's heart to be hardened, and for the Israelites to not be let go.
2. God's preceptive will was for Pharaoh to let the Israelites go.

I would re-word this to say the following (to avoid confusion):

1. (Concerning what God actually ordains to happen) It was God's will that Moses tell Pharaoh to release the Israelites, and for Pharaoh to refuse.
2. (Concerning what God commands men to do) God commanded Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. Pharaoh does not know anything else beyond that he has been commanded to release God's people.

One might be tempted to ask: "If it was always God's plan for Pharaoh to not let the Israelites go, then why did he command Pharaoh to release them?" The answer is simply that God, by commanding Pharaoh to release his people (and subsequently ordaining that Pharaoh harden his heart), displays his divine justice. Pharaoh sinned against God by refusing to obey God's command. When Pharaoh stands before the judgment seat of God, Pharaoh can't say that he had no idea that he was disobeying God. He had heard God's command, he refused to obey, and therefore has no excuse. It also stands as an example for others that those who disobey God can expect God's justice.

Anyways, I honestly don't know if this clarifies things or not, but it is a way to explain things that does not attribute multiple/separate wills to God (where one will is 'thwarted' by man and the other is not). Hope this helps!
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
I run the danger of appearing to be "picking a fight" the longer this thread goes on. :) Please know that I'm not here simply to argue or debate, but to try to understand this as best as I can. This is a new area of in-depth study for me, and I'm aware that there are many aspects of thelogy where good men will simply disagree. This may turn out to be one of them.

The will of precept (or the "revealed will" of God) has no volitional content as to the futurition of actions, but only to the obligation of them. The will of precept simply states what God has commanded ought to be done by man.

Thanks, Samuel. If I'm understanding you correctly, that God's revealed will is not necessarily what God sovereignly and effecaciously ordains to come to pass, I think we're in agreement there. Ps. 135:6, Is. 46:9-10 and the verses you quoted are clear on that - indeed, John Piper has an entire chapter affirming that idea in the same book that contains his "Are there 2 Wills in God" essay.

It would be unbiblical to say that God has a divided heart with more than one will. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God does all His will.

That's what needs to be discussed, though. Let me be sure I'm empahsizing this foundational point first: John Piper would wholeheartedly say that "God does all His sovereign, decretive will" (and then use the verses you cite). There is no question that God does all that He pleases, and that whatever He pleases He does. Piper's further assertion, however, is that it is not inconsistent, illogical, or blasphemous to say that God can also have a will/desire for something else that He has not decreed to come about. There is tension here, he fully admits, but the desire to relieve tension should not drive us to dispense with the idea that God can really desire something in one sense that (because His desire that it not occur is greater and more pleasing to Him) He does not ordain to occur.

I chose the "Pharaoh" example, because it's one of the few times we see both God's secret and revealed will on display, and so it seems to put things in clearest relief. If (as Piper argues) we would say that God both desired that Pharaoh let the Israelites go (in one sense) while decreeing that Pharaoh refuse to obey (in another, ultimately effective sense) then there is tension. However if we say that there was no genuine desire on God's part that Pharaoh should obey, then it seems that we arrive at more problematic conclusions:

  1. God's "will" (that Pharaoh let the Israelites go) was not his "desire" in even the slightest sense, which seems contradictory.
  2. Either Pharaoh was not guilty of sin (because God had no desire that he would obey his Word), or else God's moral imperatives were binding on Pharaoh even though God had no desire that He actually obey them.
  3. Pharaoh was mistaken to think that God actually wanted Him to let the Israelites go
  4. God was displeased with Pharaoh's disobedience (as evidenced by the judgment He brought) but (hypothetically) would have been displeased if Pharaoh had obeyed (in opposition to what God ultimately desired)

In short, I don't see how we can separate God's moral imperatives from His desires. Again, I am not questioning whether God's ultimate purposes are always carried out - I affirm that they are. But if we're suggesting that God at times can give moral commands that express what is pleasing to His nature, yet in no way desire that men do that very thing that is agreeable to his nature (e.g. Pharaoh's obedience), then it seems we have a problem. And to Piper, it's better to deal with the tensions of understanding the two wills of God rather than to resort to that alternative.

David,

Let me just say that you're starting with a lot of presuppositions: (1) that God must will or desire, in some sense, the futurition of actions, in order to will the obligation of them, (2) that God wanted or desired Pharaoh to let His people go (i.e., the futurition of it) -- while the Bible simply says that God commanded Pharaoh to do so (the obligation of it), (3) that God would be displeased (which simply indicates that God's law has been broken -- not that God's feelings are changing) if someone kept His law against His decretive will.

There is too much speculation, my friend. God has revealed to us plain truths about Himself that we must believe. If He says that He commands everyone everywhere to repent and believe the Gospel, we simply cannot start with the presupposition that He wills that they shall repent and believe the Gospel, unless we can clearly prove it from the context of the text, or the bigger picture of the Bible.

I used to believe in John Piper's distinction of God's will to the Revealed will and the Secret will, and his definitions of them. But John Piper is the one who is contradictory. He believes that God can have a divided heart, and yet the Bible says that "a double minded man is unstable in all his ways" (James 1:8), and "God is of one mind" (Job 23:13).

I would second Ruben's recommendation of Rev. Matthew Winzer's review. That review was life-changing for me, please read it.
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
Also, there is no doubt that God 'wanted' or 'willed' the Israelites to be free. But it was his will that they only be freed AFTER Pharaoh harden his heart multiple times, and experience ten plagues. Certainly it was God's plan for the Israelites to be freed, but it was never God's plan that Pharaoh would be the one to free them. God would free them.
 

JML

Puritan Board Junior
Also, there is no doubt that God 'wanted' or 'willed' the Israelites to be free. But it was his will that they only be freed AFTER Pharaoh harden his heart multiple times, and experience ten plagues. Certainly it was God's plan for the Israelites to be freed, but it was never God's plan that Pharaoh would be the one to free them. God would free them.

Plus, God willed all of this (plagues, hardening of Pharaoh's heart, etc.) not only to free His people but also as judgment against the nation of Egypt which was prophesied to Abraham.

Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. God said to Abram, Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.

Genesis 15:12-14
 

Tom Servo

Puritan Board Freshman
Again, thanks for the replies. Work and Sunday School preparation mean I probably won't be able to continue posting much, but I appreciate the links and food for though t as I study this topic more.

I fear that I may again appear to be saying something I'm not. To reiterate my previous postings, I fully affirm God's sovereignty in doing all that He pleases (Ps. 135:6, Is. 46:9-10), and that His good pleasure was that Pharaoh would reject His command to let the Israelites go, in order that He might demonstrate his power over Egypt and their false gods, and to redeem His covenant people in a way that foreshadows our own redemption. Pharaoh's action was sinful, and God was not the author of that sin, but He used and controlled that sin (willingly committed by Pharaoh) to accomplish those ends that He had decreed from all eternity to pass.

Good so far? What you may consider illogical and unbiblical is the notion that at the very same time, God's prescriptive, moral will was nevertheless an expression of his desires - desires that were different than, and overridden by His greater desire to do all that I mentioned in the previous paragraph. So (InSlaveryToChirst), while I do come with presuppositions, I don't believe that they're the same ones you're suggesting. I don't suggest that God had in mind a future in which Pharaoh obeyed (pleasing Him) while simultaneouly displeasing Him because His plans of redemption were now frustrated. While God knows all counterfactual histories, his sovereign decree always only had one future in mind - the world in which Pharaoh disobeyed God.

Rather, my presuppositions are these:

1) Sin is displeasing to God
2) Pharaoh sinned
3) Therefore Pharaoh's refusal to obey God's command displeased God

1) Obedience is pleasing to God
2) Pharaoh did not obey God
3) Therefore Pharaoh did not do what was pleasing to God
4) God desires what is pleasing to Him
5) Therefore Pharaoh did not do what God desired (from point 1 and 4)
6) However, God's redemption of Israel was also pleasing to Him. Therefore Pharaoh's sin, though God did not desire it in one sense (point 5), was ordained and controlled by God to acommplish His greater pleasure.
7) Therefore Pharaoh's obedience was both desired by God (point 5) and (in a greater sense - the sense in which God actually ordained) was not desired by God.

Matthew Winzer cites Turretin (among others) in his article, but I really don't think I'm saying much differently than Turretin says here, in distinguishing between God's secret will and preceptive will, without disallowing the idea of "desire" for his preceptive will:

He, who by calling men shows that he wills their salvation and yet does not will it, acts deceitfully, if it is understood of the same will (i.e., if he shows that he wills that by the will of decree and yet does not will it; or by the will of precept and yet does not will it). But if it refers to diverse wills, the reasoning does not equally hold good. For example, if he shows that he wills a thing by the will of precept and yet does not will it by the will of decree, there is no simulation or hypocrisy here (as in prescribing the law to men, he shows that he wills they should fulfill it as to approbation and command, but not immediately as to decree).

Now in calling God indeed shows that he wills the salvation of the called by the will of precept and good pleasure (euarestias), but not by the will of decree. For calling shows what God wills man should do, but not what he himself had decreed to do. It teaches what is pleasing and acceptable to God and in accordance with his own nature (namely, that the called should come to him); but not what he himself has determined to do concerning man. It signifies what God is prepared to give believers and penitents, but not what he has actually decreed to give to this or that person.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
David,

You said, "God desires what is pleasing to Him." Well, unless you define your meaning of "desire" in that sentence, it would be just as true to say that "God desires what is displeasing to Him." I can clearly see the problem in your thinking, and it is this: you think God can have contrary desires for the futurition of things. That's not the case; God only has ONE desire for the futurition of things, and ANOTHER desire for the obligation of actions (BUT NOTE: these two are not contrary, but rather harmonious desires). So, you see, what I'm against is the notion that God's heart can have contrary desires -- which is basically the same as to say someone is "double minded" (see my previous post).
 

Loopie

Puritan Board Freshman
Good so far? What you may consider illogical and unbiblical is the notion that at the very same time, God's prescriptive, moral will was nevertheless an expression of his desires - desires that were different than, and overridden by His greater desire to do all that I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

David, I cannot help but think that the use of the term 'desire' is somewhat misleading. It does seem as if you are saying that God has one desire, but that this desire conflicts with another more dominant desire. With this understanding one could imagine God saying: "I really desire for all of these sinners to come to repentance, but at the same time I desire to demonstrate my divine justice by not saving all of them." I think that this would be an incorrect representation of God, since it makes it seem like some of God's desires are NOT being fulfilled, or that he is conflicted in what he wants to do.

Rather, my presuppositions are these:

1) Sin is displeasing to God
2) Pharaoh sinned
3) Therefore Pharaoh's refusal to obey God's command displeased God

1) Obedience is pleasing to God
2) Pharaoh did not obey God
3) Therefore Pharaoh did not do what was pleasing to God
4) God desires what is pleasing to Him
5) Therefore Pharaoh did not do what God desired (from point 1 and 4)
6) However, God's redemption of Israel was also pleasing to Him. Therefore Pharaoh's sin, though God did not desire it in one sense (point 5), was ordained and controlled by God to acommplish His greater pleasure.
7) Therefore Pharaoh's obedience was both desired by God (point 5) and (in a greater sense - the sense in which God actually ordained) was not desired by God.

My biggest issue is with number 4, where you say that God desires what is pleasing to him. Based on number 1, do you believe that God ONLY desires for people to obey him? Do you believe that at times God desires for people to disobey him, that he might demonstrate his attributes? Consider Christ's death. It pleased God that Christ would atone for the sins of his people. Yet Pontius Pilate and the Jews who demanded Christ's death sinned in their actions. There is no doubt that God DESIRED for Christ to be crucified. There is also no doubt that God desired Pontius Pilate and the Jews to put him to death. What we must understand is that Pontius Pilate and the Jews were not acting out of obedience to God. Their purposes for the action were sinful, whereas God's purposes were righteous. With that said I believe that God desires what he desires. We are often not privy to what God desires to happen. Consider the fact that many of the disciples simply could not grasp why Jesus had to die. They did not realize that it was God's desire for Christ to die a horrible death. When we say that Pontius Pilate and the Jews sinned against God, we are saying that they had wicked purposes in their minds, whereas God had righteous purposes.


He, who by calling men shows that he wills their salvation and yet does not will it, acts deceitfully, if it is understood of the same will (i.e., if he shows that he wills that by the will of decree and yet does not will it; or by the will of precept and yet does not will it). But if it refers to diverse wills, the reasoning does not equally hold good. For example, if he shows that he wills a thing by the will of precept and yet does not will it by the will of decree, there is no simulation or hypocrisy here (as in prescribing the law to men, he shows that he wills they should fulfill it as to approbation and command, but not immediately as to decree).

Now in calling God indeed shows that he wills the salvation of the called by the will of precept and good pleasure (euarestias), but not by the will of decree. For calling shows what God wills man should do, but not what he himself had decreed to do. It teaches what is pleasing and acceptable to God and in accordance with his own nature (namely, that the called should come to him); but not what he himself has determined to do concerning man. It signifies what God is prepared to give believers and penitents, but not what he has actually decreed to give to this or that person.

I think Turretin hits the nail on the head in the first sentence of the second paragraph when he says that the calling refers to what man SHOULD do, but not to what God had decreed would happen. In the end, sin is disobedience to God, and men are commanded to obey God. Men SHOULD NOT sin. This is not in conflict with God's will. God desires what is glorifying to him. God is glorified not only when men obey him by his grace (demonstrating God's mercy), but also when men disobey him and are rightfully punished (demonstrating God's justice).
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
Good so far? What you may consider illogical and unbiblical is the notion that at the very same time, God's prescriptive, moral will was nevertheless an expression of his desires - desires that were different than, and overridden by His greater desire to do all that I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

David, I cannot help but think that the use of the term 'desire' is somewhat misleading. It does seem as if you are saying that God has one desire, but that this desire conflicts with another more dominant desire. With this understanding one could imagine God saying: "I really desire for all of these sinners to come to repentance, but at the same time I desire to demonstrate my divine justice by not saving all of them." I think that this would be an incorrect representation of God, since it makes it seem like some of God's desires are NOT being fulfilled, or that he is conflicted in what he wants to do.

Rather, my presuppositions are these:

1) Sin is displeasing to God
2) Pharaoh sinned
3) Therefore Pharaoh's refusal to obey God's command displeased God

1) Obedience is pleasing to God
2) Pharaoh did not obey God
3) Therefore Pharaoh did not do what was pleasing to God
4) God desires what is pleasing to Him
5) Therefore Pharaoh did not do what God desired (from point 1 and 4)
6) However, God's redemption of Israel was also pleasing to Him. Therefore Pharaoh's sin, though God did not desire it in one sense (point 5), was ordained and controlled by God to acommplish His greater pleasure.
7) Therefore Pharaoh's obedience was both desired by God (point 5) and (in a greater sense - the sense in which God actually ordained) was not desired by God.

My biggest issue is with number 4, where you say that God desires what is pleasing to him. Based on number 1, do you believe that God ONLY desires for people to obey him? Do you believe that at times God desires for people to disobey him, that he might demonstrate his attributes? Consider Christ's death. It pleased God that Christ would atone for the sins of his people. Yet Pontius Pilate and the Jews who demanded Christ's death sinned in their actions. There is no doubt that God DESIRED for Christ to be crucified. There is also no doubt that God desired Pontius Pilate and the Jews to put him to death. What we must understand is that Pontius Pilate and the Jews were not acting out of obedience to God. Their purposes for the action were sinful, whereas God's purposes were righteous. With that said I believe that God desires what he desires. We are often not privy to what God desires to happen. Consider the fact that many of the disciples simply could not grasp why Jesus had to die. They did not realize that it was God's desire for Christ to die a horrible death. When we say that Pontius Pilate and the Jews sinned against God, we are saying that they had wicked purposes in their minds, whereas God had righteous purposes.


He, who by calling men shows that he wills their salvation and yet does not will it, acts deceitfully, if it is understood of the same will (i.e., if he shows that he wills that by the will of decree and yet does not will it; or by the will of precept and yet does not will it). But if it refers to diverse wills, the reasoning does not equally hold good. For example, if he shows that he wills a thing by the will of precept and yet does not will it by the will of decree, there is no simulation or hypocrisy here (as in prescribing the law to men, he shows that he wills they should fulfill it as to approbation and command, but not immediately as to decree).

Now in calling God indeed shows that he wills the salvation of the called by the will of precept and good pleasure (euarestias), but not by the will of decree. For calling shows what God wills man should do, but not what he himself had decreed to do. It teaches what is pleasing and acceptable to God and in accordance with his own nature (namely, that the called should come to him); but not what he himself has determined to do concerning man. It signifies what God is prepared to give believers and penitents, but not what he has actually decreed to give to this or that person.

I think Turretin hits the nail on the head in the first sentence of the second paragraph when he says that the calling refers to what man SHOULD do, but not to what God had decreed would happen. In the end, sin is disobedience to God, and men are commanded to obey God. Men SHOULD NOT sin. This is not in conflict with God's will. God desires what is glorifying to him. God is glorified not only when men obey him by his grace (demonstrating God's mercy), but also when men disobey him and are rightfully punished (demonstrating God's justice).

:ditto:
 
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