10 November, 2016

FAQ –God’s “Desire” and His Commandments (or “will of precept”)

Q. 1. “What is God’s desire if not what He has commanded?”

The desire of God is always in His decree and the end which it achieves. (EPCA, “Universalism and the Reformed Churches”)


Q. 2. “You say that God's *desire* is not what He 'commands' but rather what He has 'decreed'. Are you therefore denying that God desires that all men repent and come to faith in Christ?”

People are to be 'called' to repent and believe, but this does not mean God *desires* all men to repent and believe. (Rev. Angus Stewart)


Q. 3. “Do not the Canons of Dordt III/IV, 8 tell us that God desires all men to repent and believe? It states: ‘For God hath most earnestly and truly shown in His word 'what is pleasing to Him,' namely, that those who are called should come to Him. He moreover 'seriously promises' eternal life and rest to as many as shall come to Him and believe on Him.’"

The Canons say that repentance and faith are 'pleasing' to God, not that God 'desires' the reprobate to be saved. (Rev. Angus Stewart)


Q. 4. “We must distinguish between Gods ‘revealed decree’ and His ‘hidden counsel.’ His revealed decree, according to the Canons and Scripture, is that all who are called should come to Him.”

Of course. "Should" indicates moral obligation. (Rev. Angus Stewart)


Q. 5. “I wholeheartedly agree.. God does not desire to save all men, or even all who hear the gospel ... But that is in His *secret* will. [i.e., His eternal decree] His *revealed* decree is that all men come to Him [i.e. His will of command]. If you deny this then you deny what the Canons and the Scriptures teach.”

Yes, we agree that God commands all men everywhere to repent. (Rev. Angus Stewart)


Q. 6. “Did not Christ Himself weep over Jerusalem though He did not decree its salvation but rather its destruction?”

Check these out:
http://www.cprf.co.uk/quotes/matthew2337quotes.htm OR



Q. 7. “God gave 631 laws to the nation of Israel.  Did He ardently intend for them to be kept?”

He 'commanded' that they were to be kept, which indicates that the keeping of them pleases Him and the breaking of them angers Him. But what is meant by "intend"? decree? No. Command and be pleased with obedience, yes. But you seem to mean something between these two things. (Rev. Angus Stewart)


Q. 8. “What is the relation between the desire of God and the law’s requirement of obedience? Though God commands all men to walk in obedience to His law, why does God not “desire” all men to do so?”

[The] desire of God concerning the fulfilment of His moral law, is inseparable from its fulfilment by His grace.
Scripture teaches, “without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5), so that it must follow that God does not desire that wicked men without grace, obey His precepts. By His grace, God requires and desires the obedience of those whom He has effectually called by His Spirit. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

For God to desire that men shall act outside His grace in obedience to His precepts, would violate His own moral order. For God to desire the salvation of men and not grant them the means of grace, which is essential to save them would make Him a monster. For men to imagine that they can please God without grace, makes them Pelagians. The Scripture teaches that without faith it is impossible to please God, for faith is a gift of God. (EPCA, “Universalism and the Reformed Churches”)


Q. 9. “If God doesn’t ‘desire’ what He commands, why does He command it? Are you saying He commands us to do and be something He doesn’t desire for us to be?”

His commands tell us what is right, what He approves of and what we must do. What God desires, since He is all-powerful and irresistible, always happensHis decree, His good pleasure in Christ to glorify Himself. Job 23:13. (Rev. Angus Stewart)


Q. 10. “The text says ‘this is the will of God’ (I Thess. 4:3). Do you really think that in that context Paul is saying that God desires that sometime in the sweet by and by you will finally get too tired to commit fornication and stop it? And that as long as we ultimately stop committing fornication in eternity, that fulfils God’s command concerning that sin?”

The text is saying that this is GOD'S WILL OF COMMAND (as in the 7th commandment). This is what He demands people to do, what pleases Him, and that fornication is what He is awfully displeased with and punishes (Heb. 13:4). (Rev. Angus Stewart)


Q. 11. “Since God is Holy He cannot desire anything but His creatures’ holiness.”

God’s holiness does not exist apart from His power. (Rev. Angus Stewart)


Q. 12. “What is the difference between someone ‘requiring’ something, and someone ‘desiring’ something?”

Requiring is a demand, something you MUST do. Desiring is wanting/wishing. The well-meant offer teaches a desire/want/wish of God that is not fulfilled with regard to the reprobate and therefore implies a God who is failing and frustrated. (Rev. Angus Stewart)


Q. 13. “Why is it absurd to posit a desire of God that something shall happen which He has determined shall not happen?”

This divides God, by introducing contrariety into His nature. It supposes what the Remonstrant Corvinus was ready to grant, “that there are desires in God that are never fulfilled.” But as John Owen ably retorted: “Now, surely, to desire what one is sure will never come to pass is not an act regulated by wisdom or counsel.” (Rev. Matthew Winzer, “Murray on the Free Offer: A Review”; see John Owen, “Works,” vol. 10, p. 25)

Q. 14. “Do we have historical support for the idea that only the will of decree is the will of God in the proper sense of the term, as an act of volition?”

Samuel Rutherford expresses this well in his own inimitable manner:

… that voluntas signi, in which God reveals what is our duty, and what we ought to do, not what is his decree, or what he either will, or ought to do, is not God’s will properly, but by a figure only; for commands, and promises, and threatenings revealed argue not the will and purpose, decree or intention of God, which are properly his will. (Samuel Rutherford, Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself (Glasgow: Samuel and Archibald Gardner, 1803), p. 480)

The will of precept has no volitional content, for it simply states what God has commanded ought to be done by man. Whether man wills to do it is absolutely dependent upon whether God has decreed that he shall do it. So it is quite inappropriate to say that God wills something to be with reference to His will of command, for the preceptive will never pertains to the futurition of actions, only to the obligation of them.

(Matthew Winzer, “Murray on the Free Offer: A Review”)

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