Does God have an ordained and permissive will?


Like many times in the past few years I was lost as to God's will for my life. So I typed into Google: God what do you want me to do? Stay where I am or move? I have been out of work for several years and my money is running out. This time God answered my prayer by bringing up your church's site near the top of the search. I haven't had a chance to read very many questions and answers or sermons but I believe you are a godly teacher. Namely because you push people to the Bible for answers and guidance. You are right. God gave us the Bible for our guidebook to life.

One letter you answered about decision making was very much in line with another preacher I respect. He said it this way: God has two wills, his ordained will and his permissive will. Ordained will covers things like the predictions in the Bible will come true including things like God hearing the voice of a repentant sinner asking for forgiveness and salvation. His permissive will involves the decisions we make about our lives. Wear a red shirt or a blue shirt to work. Buy a Cadillac or a Neon.

As you pointed out I had been approaching my decision making all wrong. Much like the person who disagreed with one of your answers, I had been seeking godly counsel and listening for small still voices and trying to interpret events happening in my life. All I need to do is to turn to the word of God for my answers. Over and over the Word says to seek God, desire God with all your heart and mind and soul "and he will give you the desires of your heart." As one preacher explained it, when you seek and desire God you get into the Word and when you get into the Word your heart becomes more and more as God's heart is. For me this is the answer I've been seeking for so long. Stop focusing on me and focus on the Word of God! Then I will know what to do because what to do is to follow God's Word. Because it is living, it is always revelant. Its principles and guidance are as clear today as they were centuries ago -- namely love. Love is the answer to all.

When I love, God's Will both ordained and permissive is clear. Do that in life that does the most I'm capable of to show a hurting and lost world the love of God. For my life this is God's will. Not being God I can only speak for myself, but I think the "Great Commision" implies this is God's will for all believer's lives.


You come to a good conclusion, but the path you took is not quite right.

The idea of God having two wills sounds nice, but the problem is that it doesn't match what the Scriptures state. There is no passage saying there is an ordained and permissive will. As a Christian it is important to stick to scriptural  terminology (I Peter 4:11). In the Scriptures you see God's will spoken of in the singular. "Then he said, 'The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth" (Acts 22:14).

It would be more accurate to state that within God's will, He leaves many things up to the individual to decide. For example, God's will states that liars will end up in hell (Revelation 21:8), but God allows people to choose whether they will lie or tell the truth. Regardless of the individual's decision, God's will stands. In the same way, God's will states that Christians are to dress modestly (I Timothy 2:9-10). A Christian has a choice of following that command or not, for which there will be consequences. Even in following that command there is still a freedom of choice because a person can choose to be modest while wearing red, blue, or green outfits.

The mistake people make is assuming that because God has a will that, therefore, all choices are fixed. Such is not taught in the Bible.