God’s Decretive Will

May 20, 2015 at 1:41 pm | Posted in Where There's a Way There's a Will | 11 Comments
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There are two main ways to think about the will of God. One is to think about His will in general. What is He doing? What is He accomplishing with His existence? The other, more common way, is to think, “What is His will for my life?” I would like to offer some ways in which we can think about God’s will systematically.

The first of these falls under the heading: God’s Decretive Will (His will of decree), meaning what He has decreed or commanded to come to pass. Or, to put it another way, what He has ordered, or spoken into existence. This is sometimes called His absolute sovereign will. This is how we think about God’s will in the sense that it can not be resisted. For example:

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:3

God’s decretive will can not be resisted, much less overcome. Other examples of this kind of exercise of God’s will would be: the speaking into existence of all of creation; the manna falling from Heaven; and the unredeemed and Satan being cast into the lake of fire at the final judgment; just to name a few.

God’s decretive will often acts through the means of human agency, and sometimes completely overrules human choices. In Acts Chapter 4 Peter and John healed a lame man, and ended up being brought before the council. The authorities could not deny the divine healing, nor even the truth of their message, but they threatened them to stop preaching, to which they responded that they could not. They had to obey God even if the government said it was illegal. Then they went back and reported to the other disciples what God had done, and here is what they said:

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

Acts 4:24

God did the acts ascribed to Him in Verse 24 by His decretive will.

Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

Acts 4:25

The people who instigated and demanded Jesus’s execution were furious at Him for claiming to be God.

The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

Acts 4:26

The people in charge summoned all their authority and effort. The Jewish leaders and Roman authorities worked together for one evil, united purpose.

For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

Acts 4:27-28

But, despite their total assumption of the control they wielded, they ended up doing exactly what God wanted done.

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  1. […] Apostles: Activated, Authorized, Audible, and Accountable 7. From Power to Proclamation to Prayer * 8. God’s Decretive Will 9. The Blessing and the Cost of an Honest Report 10. Beware the Fear that Falls 11. Exposing the […]

  2. […] God’s commandments of righteousness and His commandments against unrighteousness. Unlike His decretive will, the preceptive will can be resisted. God allows unrighteous choices and actions to come from […]

  3. […] does this tell us about God? It does not reveal His decretive will because obviously many are going to perish despite the fact that He is not “willing” that any […]

  4. […] Deus absconditus, meaning the hidden or obscure or secret will of God, would include the decretive will of God. The Bible is a huge book, and it reveals more about God than we could fathom in this […]

  5. […] distinguishing features about sometimes categorizing God’s will as preceptive, rather than decretive or secretive, is that God’s preceptive will is clearly […]

  6. […] proceeds sovereignly according to the will of God, even as a river in all its windings follows its own sweet will; and wherever it comes it does not […]

  7. […] might have, but neither does He give carte blanche to be guided by your feelings. God is God of the decretive and He’s God of the absconditus, but He’s also God of the circumstances and the […]

  8. […] to serve. God doesn’t “need” me in the sense that He needs my permission to accomplish His will, but I am “valuable” to Him in the sense that He loves me and that it pleases Him to use me to […]

  9. […] way, it God, as the primary agent of cause, uses man’s will as a secondary cause to work out His decretive, absolute sovereign […]

  10. […] you are a Christian, here is the specific will of God for […]

  11. […] is unlikely that the soldiers in their own minds even knew this prophecy, much less that they knew the Divine hand of God was causing them to fulfill it. It is also unlikely that they cast lots hoping to win a valuable souvenir or a Roman Catholic […]


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