There are two wills in God that you have to integrate into your theology:

God’s Will of Desire
God’s Will of Decree

All that God decrees comes to pass, without exception. All that be wants does not.

For example, God wants you to never sin, but he does not always decree it as we are all sinners. God wants all to be saved, but in his mysterious will, he does not decree all to be saved. God did not want men to reject his son and hang him on a cross, but he decreed that this happen.

One will is perfect and represents the ideal world. One is necessary for his plans in a fallen world.

We see this all throughout the Scriptures and it makes some sense of some of the most confusing passages.

Consider 2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Now consider Daniel 4:35
All the inhabitants of the earth are of no account, But He does according to His will among the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can fend off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’

I think you can see both wills very clearly in those two seemingly conflicting passages.

Other ways to put it:

God’s permissive will
Gods effective will

What God wants
What God wills

By the way, this understanding is not limited to a certain theological tradition (ie Calvinist or Arminians). All theological traditions must integrate this and find a place for it even if they many express it differently.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    3 replies to "The Two Wills of God"

    • Allan Lee

      Not two “wills”, just two aspects of the same plan.

    • Don Johnson

      I think King James himself had something very similar to say on this topic..

    • Kim

      God is big. We deliberate over the trinity, the incarnation of God and man , Inspiration of scripture , God penning through men.. In scripture and nature there is tension (Michael Patton taught me that) but in the end it is faith . God has told us. HE knows. Yes, God would have all to be saved,,yet.

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