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Thread: The Permissive vs. Perfect Will of God?

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    The Permissive vs. Perfect Will of God?

    The permissive vs. the perfect will of God... Is there such a thing? It can better be termed, "what God allows to occur (permissive will) versus what God wants to occur (perfect will)."
    We make statements like, "it will happen if it's supposed to happen", or "it'll work out if it's God's will"... but is this true? Some people live their lives as if they have no control over what happens to them. Their attitude is, "well, my son was murdered... I suppose that was the will of God."

    Of course God is sovereign, but to what extent are we responsible for our destiny?

    I was reading a Psalm, and this caught my attention:

    Psalm 81:10-16 "I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee."

    Here we have an account of the children of Israel in their backslidden state. We have recorded what should have happened versus what actually happened. Does this imply the permissive will of God? And if this be true, then what is the effect of such truth in the grander scheme of things? Does it effect rewards at the judgment seat of Christ?

    Blessings,
    Z
    "Unto you therefore which believe, He is precious" (1 Peter 2:7)



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    z alan bridges -The permissive vs. the perfect will of God... Is there such a thing?
    No there is not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by z alan bridges View Post
    The permissive vs. the perfect will of God... Is there such a thing? It can better be termed, "what God allows to occur (permissive will) versus what God wants to occur (perfect will)."
    We make statements like, "it will happen if it's supposed to happen", or "it'll work out if it's God's will"... but is this true? Some people live their lives as if they have no control over what happens to them. Their attitude is, "well, my son was murdered... I suppose that was the will of God."

    Of course God is sovereign, but to what extent are we responsible for our destiny?

    I was reading a Psalm, and this caught my attention:

    Psalm 81:10-16 "I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee."

    Here we have an account of the children of Israel in their backslidden state. We have recorded what should have happened versus what actually happened. Does this imply the permissive will of God? And if this be true, then what is the effect of such truth in the grander scheme of things? Does it effect rewards at the judgment seat of Christ?

    Blessings,
    Z
    Greetings Z,

    I don't find reward(s), as many at the judgment. I find He is our great reward!

    Could we say the will(s) of God are what He allows or what He providentially causes? Maybe this brief excerpt can help.

    Excerpt from Let the Reader Understand: Scripture and Guidance, by Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton.

    Confusion has probably been caused by semantic coincidences. In our current translations, there are two NT Greek words which are commonly rendered "will" in English. One of them, boule (and its cognates), primarily signifies God's purposes; it is unchangeable and irresistible, and in this respect these future plans for our individual lives are unavailable to our inquiry. For example, the word occurs in "Who resists his will?" (Rom. 9:19), or, "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge" (Acts 2:23). There is indeed a blueprint for our lives, but it is God's prerogative alone and has no part to play in the subject of guidance -- except to give us reassurance of God's sovereignty.

    The other word which is usually translated "will" in English is the Greek word thelema and its cognates, occurring more than fifty times in the NT. It refers to something that is desired or that one wishes to happen. It is this "will" that we are commanded to know (Eph. 5:17), although in our sinfulness we often disregard it. We are commanded to "stand firm" in God's thelema (Col. 4:12). In every instance of its use in the Bible, it signifies God's wishes as to how we should conduct our lives. For example, "it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men" (1 Peter 2:15).

    Many Blessings,
    RW

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    Interesting thread. This idea has come up in our church midweek studies in 1 Samuel. It was not God's perfect will (wish? Or something more? Command?) that Israel seek an earthly king - indeed they sinned greatly by desiring one instead if Him, for He was their King. Yet God permits them to have King Saul - indeed, he IS God's chosen king! Any thoughts?

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    Romans 8
    28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

    While this may be New Testament, I think it still applies. God can take anything and make it work for the ULTIMATE good. The people asking for a King may have "hurt" God but it certainly didn't surprise Him at all. He had Plan "B" in place before the Hebrews had rejected Plan "A".

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    Quote Originally Posted by z alan bridges View Post
    The permissive vs. the perfect will of God... Is there such a thing?

    Of course God is sovereign, but to what extent are we responsible for our destiny?

    We have recorded what should have happened versus what actually happened. Does this imply the permissive will of God? And if this be true, then what is the effect of such truth in the grander scheme of things? Does it effect rewards at the judgment seat of Christ?

    Blessings,
    Z
    Is there a permissive will of God?

    As many such discussions bear out, this is a deep and important topic, striking to the heart of what is often termed the problem of evil, by Christians and non-Christians alike. It wraps it's curiosity around reconciling certain truths of Scripture as complex as the Trinity, as distinguishable as holy and unholy, as paradoxical as Jesus being fully God yet fully man, and fiery in aspect as often dividing brothers in Christ who are eternally in unity.

    There are sincere differences in various perspectives between Christians on this issue, but I'm inclined to think much of what divides us is without true substance, but often merely a matter of how we process and describe what we agree is taught in Scripture.

    RW's post of McCartney and Clayton had some enlightening things to say about will. The OP has posited for our consideration the popular contrast between a permissive will and perfect will of God. Others (and I chiefly have Sproul in mind) have offered a distinction between a decretive will of God, by which He effectively brings to pass whatever He decrees will happen (God wills it and it is so); God's preceptive will as detailed in precepts, commands, and laws revealing the righteous path His creatures ought to follow but may violate (generally, Z's "should have"); and God's will of disposition as that which pleases God (as in His not willing that any should perish, or the divine aspects of Z's "should have").

    It's all perhaps best illustrated in the crucifixion of the Christ, where it might both be said that God willed that Jesus should die (for our salvation), and that He did not will it, since such an unjust act of man was evil and against God's commands. Sproul (Grace Unknown / What Is Reformed Theology?) is quick to point out that man cannot resist God's decretive will, but can resist God's preceptive will and will of disposition.

    In the problem of evil I want to be clear in establishing that I do not hold God as in any way evil, and I fully hold that man is responsible for his sin and its consequence according to the nature of his own free-will (as also his general choices of self-determination). However, just as some may loosen up the definition of divine sovereignty so as to include it in an emphasis on man's free-will, I too may be found to have notions of man's free-will in mind which fall short of what many of its proponents intend.

    As but a creature under Almighty God I'm inclined to humbly admit that God controls every aspect of His Creation, and there is not one thought or thing visible or invisible which does not conform to God's absolute control over everything He has made. In my view, as ancillary to the being of God Himself, God must control all things in order to work anything to His glory and the good of those called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). God's will is singularly constant and unchanging both through what He permits and what is perfect, through what he decrees, commands, and wishes. I do not in believing thus make God guilty of sin, nor do I alleviate man of his responsibility for the consequence of his thoughts and acts. However, for me God is both purposeful and active through all things, and not simply permissive or allowing of some aspects of His Creation to freely spin out of His control.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 9Marksfan View Post
    Interesting thread. This idea has come up in our church midweek studies in 1 Samuel. It was not God's perfect will (wish? Or something more? Command?) that Israel seek an earthly king - indeed they sinned greatly by desiring one instead if Him, for He was their King. Yet God permits them to have King Saul - indeed, he IS God's chosen king! Any thoughts?
    God permiting them to have an earthly king wasn't His will. Just because He permits it doesn't mean we should tack on the word will to it. He allows murder but if you murder someone it was not His will, no matter what you tack on to it.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Sirus View Post
    God permiting them to have an earthly king wasn't His will. Just because He permits it doesn't mean we should tack on the word will to it. He allows murder but if you murder someone it was not His will, no matter what you tack on to it.
    Sirus, I would argue that God MUST permit or allow sin in order for it to exist. How can God be The Sovereign if anything that happens is outside of His will? I would even argue one step further, I would say that God not only knew from before the foundation of the world that He would be rejected by His chosen people, but that He even knew that Saul would be the one chosen to be king. Even an act as horrid as murder has been used to accomplish His purpose, surely Christ was murdered by the will and foreknowledge of God. Why does God have an answer for the problem of sin (Christ, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world) if sin and evil are outside the will of God?

    Many Blessings,
    RW

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    foreknowledge

    so, is sin the will of God? Yes. People will say not the perfect but the permissive but that just sounds like excuses for God to me. God does not lose Sovereignty just standing back and letting things happen within the environment He created and made (He created darkness and evil -Isa 45). In fact that to me shows He is more Sovereign than if He were a puppet-master.

    The real question is why is everything considered a will of God's of some sort (perfect/permissive etc...)? In other words, you said
    How can God be The Sovereign if anything that happens is outside of His will?
    Well now you have to define His will. Not two types. Just His will. Just define His will. Then you will find.....what I said
    God does not lose Sovereignty just standing back and letting things happen within the environment He created and made. He created darkness and evil.
    Now add to that 'Christ' and everything that means, and you have His will. Not two, just one.
    Last edited by Sirus; Jun 21st 2009 at 12:56 AM.

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    Good luck

    God as best we can understand it has a soverign will in the soul that sinneth it shall surely die. God seems to have a permissive will in that when His creation violates His soverign will we are given an opportunity to repent. God not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

    Man is made in the image and likeness of God. Man has a free will and God does not compell that will to be submissive to His even though God has the means to compell compliance.

    Man was made to glorify Him. Adam had communion with God in the garden. God is glorified in allowing man to have a free will else we would all be Calvinists which would appear to rob God of His glory.

    It is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. God does not want robots. God is glorified in the broken heart and the contrite spirit.

    For the cause of Christ.
    Roger

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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerW --Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton View Post
    There is indeed a blueprint for our lives, but it is God's prerogative alone and has no part to play in the subject of guidance -- except to give us reassurance of God's sovereignty.
    What scripture would back this up? He rightly explains 'will' here, by using the purpose of God -Christ
    Confusion has probably been caused by semantic coincidences. In our current translations, there are two NT Greek words which are commonly rendered "will" in English. One of them, boule (and its cognates), primarily signifies God's purposes; it is unchangeable and irresistible, and in this respect these future plans for our individual lives are unavailable to our inquiry. For example, the word occurs in "Who resists his will?" (Rom. 9:19), or, "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge" (Acts 2:23).
    but how is the jump to all men made?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vhayes View Post
    Romans 8
    28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

    While this may be New Testament, I think it still applies. God can take anything and make it work for the ULTIMATE good. The people asking for a King may have "hurt" God but it certainly didn't surprise Him at all. He had Plan "B" in place before the Hebrews had rejected Plan "A".
    Ro 8:28 does not say 'can' and 'make it'. It's says 'all things do'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 9Marksfan View Post
    Interesting thread. This idea has come up in our church midweek studies in 1 Samuel. It was not God's perfect will (wish? Or something more? Command?) that Israel seek an earthly king - indeed they sinned greatly by desiring one instead if Him, for He was their King. Yet God permits them to have King Saul - indeed, he IS God's chosen king! Any thoughts?
    Thank you, this is where I was going. Men have ideas and plans that are outside of what God originally intended. Of course, in His foreknowledge and omniscience, He knew all about it, but that doesn't negate the fact that He desires otherwise. This, IMHO, is the difference between the perfect and permissive will of God. God's perfect will would have been for Israel to have had God alone as their king, but He allowed Saul when the people rebelled.

    God chose and allowed Saul because of the carnal desire of the people. Does this mean that God makes His choices according to the choices we make?
    "Unto you therefore which believe, He is precious" (1 Peter 2:7)



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerW View Post
    Greetings Z,

    I don't find reward(s), as many at the judgment. I find He is our great reward!

    Could we say the will(s) of God are what He allows or what He providentially causes? Maybe this brief excerpt can help.

    Excerpt from Let the Reader Understand: Scripture and Guidance, by Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton.

    Confusion has probably been caused by semantic coincidences. In our current translations, there are two NT Greek words which are commonly rendered "will" in English. One of them, boule (and its cognates), primarily signifies God's purposes; it is unchangeable and irresistible, and in this respect these future plans for our individual lives are unavailable to our inquiry. For example, the word occurs in "Who resists his will?" (Rom. 9:19), or, "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge" (Acts 2:23). There is indeed a blueprint for our lives, but it is God's prerogative alone and has no part to play in the subject of guidance -- except to give us reassurance of God's sovereignty.

    The other word which is usually translated "will" in English is the Greek word thelema and its cognates, occurring more than fifty times in the NT. It refers to something that is desired or that one wishes to happen. It is this "will" that we are commanded to know (Eph. 5:17), although in our sinfulness we often disregard it. We are commanded to "stand firm" in God's thelema (Col. 4:12). In every instance of its use in the Bible, it signifies God's wishes as to how we should conduct our lives. For example, "it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men" (1 Peter 2:15).

    Many Blessings,
    RW
    Thank you, RW, good post.
    "Unto you therefore which believe, He is precious" (1 Peter 2:7)



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    Quote Originally Posted by grit View Post
    Is there a permissive will of God?

    As many such discussions bear out, this is a deep and important topic, striking to the heart of what is often termed the problem of evil, by Christians and non-Christians alike. It wraps it's curiosity around reconciling certain truths of Scripture as complex as the Trinity, as distinguishable as holy and unholy, as paradoxical as Jesus being fully God yet fully man, and fiery in aspect as often dividing brothers in Christ who are eternally in unity.

    There are sincere differences in various perspectives between Christians on this issue, but I'm inclined to think much of what divides us is without true substance, but often merely a matter of how we process and describe what we agree is taught in Scripture.

    RW's post of McCartney and Clayton had some enlightening things to say about will. The OP has posited for our consideration the popular contrast between a permissive will and perfect will of God. Others (and I chiefly have Sproul in mind) have offered a distinction between a decretive will of God, by which He effectively brings to pass whatever He decrees will happen (God wills it and it is so); God's preceptive will as detailed in precepts, commands, and laws revealing the righteous path His creatures ought to follow but may violate (generally, Z's "should have"); and God's will of disposition as that which pleases God (as in His not willing that any should perish, or the divine aspects of Z's "should have").

    It's all perhaps best illustrated in the crucifixion of the Christ, where it might both be said that God willed that Jesus should die (for our salvation), and that He did not will it, since such an unjust act of man was evil and against God's commands. Sproul (Grace Unknown / What Is Reformed Theology?) is quick to point out that man cannot resist God's decretive will, but can resist God's preceptive will and will of disposition.

    In the problem of evil I want to be clear in establishing that I do not hold God as in any way evil, and I fully hold that man is responsible for his sin and its consequence according to the nature of his own free-will (as also his general choices of self-determination). However, just as some may loosen up the definition of divine sovereignty so as to include it in an emphasis on man's free-will, I too may be found to have notions of man's free-will in mind which fall short of what many of its proponents intend.

    As but a creature under Almighty God I'm inclined to humbly admit that God controls every aspect of His Creation, and there is not one thought or thing visible or invisible which does not conform to God's absolute control over everything He has made. In my view, as ancillary to the being of God Himself, God must control all things in order to work anything to His glory and the good of those called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). God's will is singularly constant and unchanging both through what He permits and what is perfect, through what he decrees, commands, and wishes. I do not in believing thus make God guilty of sin, nor do I alleviate man of his responsibility for the consequence of his thoughts and acts. However, for me God is both purposeful and active through all things, and not simply permissive or allowing of some aspects of His Creation to freely spin out of His control.
    Thank you, Grit, for your input.
    "Unto you therefore which believe, He is precious" (1 Peter 2:7)



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