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]

    4 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..

    • John

      So God decreed that all men will be born with the inability to accept Christ or God’s salvation by faith, yet His desire is that all men be saved? God decrees that we are all sinners and have no choice in the matter, but He wants us not to sin. The only way not to be sinners is to accept Christ, but He decreed that only a minority would be selected to be saved. And this selection is based on nothing in and of us, just random, arbitrary selection. It must be arbitrary or else we could claim that there was something special about us that caused us to be chosen right? Thus we could boast. I agree with the position that God has decrees and desires, but I think they still have to follow some sense of logic (God given) when applying the two.

    • 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.

Leave a Reply to Kim Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.