Saturday, July 16, 2011

Does God have two wills?

I know that this may seem a strange question to some, but it actually is a very pertinent one. It may seem obvious to us that God can only have one will. He cannot will two different things at the same time. He cannot will to save and not will to save us at the same time. But that is what some actually teach as a doctrine and many others believe unwittingly.

Many Calvinists (those who believe that God alone determines who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell) hold the Doctrine of Two Wills. That is, that God has a stated will in His Word, but another will that He actually carries out. They say that God does say that He "desires for all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" and is "not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance". That is His revealed will. However, they also believe that God has a secret will that determines what actually takes place. In this superior, secret will God decrees that only some will be saved and that others will perish. Now if this sounds contradictory, it is.

Now you might be thinking that you are smarter than that and are glad that these Calvinists are in a small minority. But, as usual, we must examine this issue more carefully. If you observe most Christians today, I think that you will find that many unknowingly hold to the same basic idea.

Christians often pit what the Bible promises us against what God "actually" does. All we have to do is look at some of the 10,000 promises of God in the Bible, especially those that are well known, and ask ourselves if this is the will of God for us. If the answer is no, then we hold to the doctrine of two wills. God's promises are God's stated will. If we say that God has another will for us, then we hold that He has two wills - same as the Calvinist idea.

We must see God's promises as His will for our lives. Now those promises often have conditions that must be fulfilled for them to come to pass for us, but they are God's will nonetheless. Otherwise, why would He have promised them.

For example, let's say we take the promise in Proverbs regarding the spiritual state of our children. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart from it." There is a condition here. We must train our children in the way of the Lord to partake of this promise. On the other hand, if we do what this scripture says, then we should expect God to fulfill His promise. This is not presumption, but faith. (Presumption is expecting God to do what He has not promised or expecting Him to do what He has promised without fulfilling the conditions.) Faith expects God to do what He promised He would do.

Most of us, however, tend to drop any expectation when we do not see the promise manifested in our lives. We assume it must not be God's will. We think that God's will is different from what He told us. This cannot be. It would be duplicity on God's part. He is not double-minded. If He did not want us to have it, He would not have promised it to us. We must not judge what God's will is by what we see. We do not see all saved, so Calvinists say that it cannot be God's will for all to be saved; otherwise they all would be saved.

This is wrong thinking. Many of us who believe that it is God's will that all be saved, but leave room for human response (free will). Yet we become Calvinists when it comes to the other promises of God besides salvation.

Now some of us may realize that God does truly promise many things but are unsure that God will actually do it because we are unworthy. But you will notice that no promise of the scripture mentions 'worthiness' as a precondition to receiving His promises.

So, with confidence, let's base our petition on the promise of God, fulfill the conditions stated in the Word needed to receive the promise, and dare to expect God to do as He says He will do.

"Without faith it is impossible to please God." Let's please God by expecting Him to fulfill His will in our lives.

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