Re: The difference between the Perfect and Permisive Will of God
In the way that I've heard it used "permissive will" is basically a means of explaining the big problems of pain & evil - so someone may say, "It is not God's perfect will that there is suffering in the world, but rather His permissive will. He doesn't wish for there to be suffering in the world, but He permits it." It's a means of taking away any perceived blame for His not "fixing" things, or, as it were, stopping them from getting broken in the first place.
I have problems with this viewpoint, stemming from how I view God's great, overarching plan. I don't see it as an attempt to make the best of a bad situation, as if He were caught unaware by the fall (or anything else, for that matter!) - I see His overarching plan as the very best that it could ever conceivably be; by any rational definition, perfect. If the big picture could by any means be any better, He would have made it that way! And, if we see the big plan as being perfect, it seems foolish to label any part of the plan as imperfect.
We can look at the fall, at the beginnings of mankind, and say that yes, God did not wish for us to sin, and only allowed it to happen as part of His perfect plan; we can look at the centrepoint of mankind and say that God did not wish for the sacrifice of His Son, but allowed it to happen as part of His perfect plan; were we able to follow the strands and understand the will of God, we could say the same of countless things in between - but when we know that the overarching plan incorporating all this "permissive will" is in fact perfect, it strikes me as disingenuous to lay down a heavy handed distinction.
It seems wiser to me to say "God despises evil, but uses evil acts to accomplish good ends" than to talk about God not wanting things to happen... But then, my understanding of God's perfect plan incorporates absolutely everything within creation - that, as I said before, if absolutely anything could be better, He would make it that way. To someone who doesn't understand "the big plan" in this way, for example, if you were to believe that there are only certain key points amidst creation which are a part of His plan and everything else is kinda irrelevant or incidental, and as such couldn't say that evil bearing down on men is necessarily part of a greater good - then "permissive will" would accommodate God's allowing awful things to happen of which no good will come. A rather ghastly thought, to my mind.
Thinking about it, I suppose the real problem for me is that the terms are, ultimately, almost worthless in helping us to understand God, or life: God's perfect will is that everything be perfect - but He permits it to be otherwise. Bad thing happens - that's His permissive will. Perfect thing happens - that'd be His perfect will! The terms are in actuality almost meaningless - when the world has already fallen, what can we possibly point to which is perfectly as God would have it? If we can only really use "perfect will" to point to a hypothetical world without sin ever having entered, and "permissive will" in practice having to apply to everything else, the terms become even more limited in worthwhile application.
And that's not even taking into account that we'd be desperately foolish to presume to understand what God would determine perfect, except in the broadest possible terms...
I'll be really interested to see any scriptures other posters may have to offer, but suspect that I'll continue to see "He doesn't want it to happen, He just lets it happen" a rather clumsy, short-sighted and deeply flawed means of dealing with the problem of pain. We have better, solidly scriptural means.
Call to Me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3
You put the stars in the sky and you know them by name, You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same, You are amazing, God.
I do not 'hope' I am saved and I do not 'think' I am saved, I know it with an absolute conviction. I know that I am saved just as I know that I think and I know that I feel. I am purchased and sealed, His possession.