Decretive Will

Decretive Will

This is part one of a series of snippets addressing the question of God’s will.

From  CARM’s Dictionary of Theology: Decretive Will

The Decretive Will of God is that which is God’s sovereign will that we may or may not know, depending on whether or not God reveals it to us.  The decretive will is God’s direct will where he causes something to be, he decrees it.  For example, God has caused the universe to exist as well as Christ‘s incarnation.

  • Job 23:13, “But He is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does.”
  • Psalm 33:11, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever. The plans of His heart from generation to generation.”
  • Isaiah 14:24, “The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, ‘Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand.'”
  • Isaiah 46:10, “Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, ‘Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’”.
  • Acts 17:24, “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.”

See also Preceptive Will (God’s good will for man) and Permissive Will (God permits bad to happen).

Matt Slick
About The AuthorMatt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.

God’s Will

God’s Will

The will of God.  God’s will.  What is it?  What is the relationship between God’s will and human will?  What is His Permissive Will?  What is His Decretive Will?  What is His Preceptive Will?

Over the next few posts, I want to address the question of God’s will with a series of snippets – mainly from Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.

Before I post on the permissive, decretive, and perceptive will of God – here’s an article from

Question: “What is the difference between God`s sovereign will and God`s perfect will?”

Answer: When speaking of God’s will, many people see three different aspects of it in the Bible. The first aspect is known as God’s decretive, sovereign, or hidden will. This is God’s “ultimate” will. This facet of God’s will comes out of the recognition of God’s sovereignty and the other aspects of God’s nature. This expression of God’s will focuses on the fact that God sovereignly ordains everything that comes to pass. In other words, there is nothing that happens that is outside of God’s sovereign will. This aspect of God’s will is seen in verses like Ephesians 1:11, where we learn that God is the one “who works all things according to the counsel of His will,” and Job 42:2, “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” This view of God’s will is based on the fact that, because God is sovereign, His will can never be frustrated. Nothing happens that is beyond His control.

This understanding of His sovereign will does not imply that God causes everything to happen. Rather, it acknowledges that, because He is sovereign, He must at least permit or allow whatever happens to happen. This aspect of God’s will acknowledges that, even when God passively permits things to happen, He must choose to permit them, because He always has the power and right to intervene. God can always decide to either permit or stop the actions and events of this world. Therefore, as He allows things to happen, He has “willed” them in this sense of the word.

While God’s sovereign will is often hidden from us until after it comes to pass, there is another aspect of His will that is plain to us: His preceptive or revealed will. As the name implies, this facet of God’s will means that God has chosen to reveal some of His will in the Bible. The preceptive will of God is God’s declared will concerning what we should or should not do. For example, because of the revealed will of God, we can know that it is God’s will that we do not steal, that we love our enemies, that we repent of our sins, and that we be holy as He is holy. This expression of God’s will is revealed both in His Word and in our conscience, through which God has written His moral law upon the hearts of all men. The laws of God, whether found in Scripture or in our hearts, are binding upon us. We are accountable when we disobey them.

Understanding this aspect of God’s will acknowledges that while we have the power and ability to disobey God’s commands, we do not have the right to do so. Therefore, there is no excuse for our sin, and we cannot claim that by choosing to sin we are simply fulfilling God’s sovereign decree or will. Judas was fulfilling God’s sovereign will in betraying Christ, just as the Romans who crucified Him were. That does not justify their sins. They were no less evil or treacherous, and they were held accountable for their rejection of Christ (Acts 4:27-28). Even though in His sovereign will God allows or permits sin to happen, we are still accountable to Him for that sin.

The third aspect of God’s will that we see in the Bible is God’s permissive or perfect will. This facet of God’s will describes God’s attitude and defines what is pleasing to Him. For example, while it is clear that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, it is also clear that He wills or decrees their death. This expression of God’s will is revealed in the many verses of Scripture which indicate what God does and does not take pleasure in. For example, in 1 Timothy 2:4 we see that God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” yet we know that God’s sovereign will is that “no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).

If we are not careful, we can easily become preoccupied or even obsessed with finding the “will” of God for our lives. However, if the will we are seeking is His secret, hidden, or decretive will, we are on a foolish quest. God has not chosen to reveal that aspect of His will to us. What we should seek to know is the perceptive or revealed will of God. The true mark of spirituality is when we desire to know and live according to the will of God as revealed in Scripture, and that can be summarized as “be holy for I am Holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16). Our responsibility is to obey the revealed will of God and not to speculate on what His hidden will for us might be. While we should seek to be “led by the Holy Spirit,” we must never forget that the Holy Spirit is primarily leading us to righteousness and to being conformed into the image of Christ so that our lives will glorify God. God calls us to live our lives by every word that proceeds from His mouth.

Living according to His revealed will should be the chief aim or purpose of our lives. Romans 12:1-2 summarizes this truth, as we are called to present our “bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” To know the will of God, we should immerse ourselves in the written Word of God, saturating our minds with it, and praying that the Holy Spirit will transform us through the renewing of our minds, so that the result is what is good, acceptable and perfect—the will of God.

© Copyright 2002-2017 Got Questions Ministries

Assisted dying devalues the disabled

Cross Posted from The Spinoff.

Assisted dying devalues the disabled

Assisted dyingBy Dr. John Fox

At first look, it all seems so sensible: people who find no value in their lives should be allowed the choice to end them. Right? Wrong, says Dr John Fox – and here’s why.

One of my first memories is pain. It was my first hospital operation, a corrective surgery to make it easier to walk. People advanced on four year old me to remove my cast and mobilise my feet. My parents tried vainly to distract me, as I tried to find the face of my favourite nurse. I still remember that feeling of radical vulnerability, pinned to a table, trying to find words to explain what was happening, trying to feel safe.

It’s that feeling that came back to me last month, when David Seymour’s End of Life Choices bill was pulled from the ballot.

It seems so reasonable, and Mr Seymour makes the argument with the slightly rabid consistency of the convinced Libertarian. “My life, and my death, is my business”. Buttressed by really tragic and truly awful situations like those of Lecretia Seales, who would welcome pain? And of course, shouldn’t we let people who find no value in their lives make the choice to end them?

No. Here is why.

I live with a mild form of cerebral palsy and various associated problems including spastic hemiplegia. I know from first-hand experience how hard it is to be physically vulnerable, to lose control of one’s own body, how hard it can be to depend on other people, how easy it is to feel like a burden. From this angle I have every human sympathy with Lecretia Seales and others like her who show us how real, ugly and frightening death can be.

But I’m also a trustee of a disability organisation that has a 40 year history of advocating for the vulnerable. For many people we see at Elevate, suffering is a fact of life. We reject, and we resent, the idea that being sick, or even terminally ill, takes away our dignity. Many of us have incurable conditions, some much worse than mine, that would qualify under the bill’s massively broad drafting: the blind, the deaf, those with chronic pain, or long-term disability. And me.

Including us in a category of people who may be legally killed is redolent of the worst attitudes of the past.

If we were an organisation representing, say, 25 year old rugby players, we would not have to make the case that their suicide would leave society poorer. Their death would be seen as a waste, a tragedy that should be prevented, no matter what. Because we are disabled people with incurable conditions, we now have to make that case. Why?

Being sick doesn’t make your life worth less. Suicide is not medical care. And people don’t make life and death decisions by themselves. Those choices are made in a context – the same contexts we would recognise in youth or elder suicide.

When I lie on my bed, wishing my body were different, wishing I could compete on the same scale as the powerful, and questioning the value of my life, my friends and family remind me of something David Seymour’s bill forgets: Pain, like death, is a team sport.

Surrounded by solidarity, the love of caring families, and the competence of medical professionals, we can carry together the experience of suffering, find meaning and stillness inside it, say the things that should be said, and make and receive the peace we need.

I can receive the assurance than I am loved by the people close to me, that my death would leave them poorer. It’s that trust, that moment of connectedness and care, I rely on as a disabled person. And it’s that trust assisted dying attacks. It tears the trust between medical professionals and their patients that doctors will cure, not kill. It brings the spectre of killing as an option to every death bed, to every overworked administrator, to every hospital looking for budget cuts. The power of life and death hovers over every legal loophole, not in a thought experiment or an internet poll, but in real life exposing the elderly and the infirm, the vulnerable and inarticulate to appalling risks.

It’s common for people to have stereotypes and prejudices about disability and illness. It’s common for people to say “I wouldn’t want to live like that” or “We’d put down a dog who was suffering like that”. But “people”, including the Greek chorus in the media, ignore people like us, who live “like that” every single day. And vague, or even specific, safeguards, are inadequate to the task of protecting us in a society increasingly tempted to do the easy thing. It’s easy to say “if you don’t believe in the choice, don’t make it” but this ignores the effect creating the category already has on our country, and on how it values the disabled.

We already know as disabled people that we have to fight to have a job, fight to be born, fight structural prejudice, patronising assumptions, and cultural realities which call us less than, and worth less. Those challenges are likely not equal for you and me, and the impact of David Seymour’s bill would not be equal either.

Disabled people, like the very young, and the very old, depend on others seeing and protecting our value. But past platitudes about inclusion, it’s moments like this that tell us what our society really believes about the infirm and the sick. Are we “all in this together?” or do some people’s lives matter less?

Dr John Fox is trustee of Elevate Christian Disability Trust. He is a son, a brother, a grandson, a friend, and an Anglican ordinand.

Physician-Assisted Suicide

10 Things You Should Know about Physician-Assisted Suicide

Physician-Assisted Suicide

1. The option of physician-assisted suicide is becoming more prevalent across the United States.

It is currently legal in Oregon, Washington, California, Vermont, and most recently, Colorado. It is soon to be legal in Washington, DC. Its legality in New Mexico is delayed due to a court challenge and it is allowed in Montana on the basis of a court order. There are legislative proposals currently being considered in roughly half of the other states.

2. Physician-assisted suicide is more often about maintaining control than ending intractable pain and suffering.

Over the seventeen years it has been legal in Oregon, participants have been asked to indicate their reasons for choosing assisted suicide. Whereas 92% have indicated a loss of autonomy (control) and 89% a lack of enjoyment of life, only 25% have indicated they are choosing it because of intractable pain or the fear of intractable pain.

3. Those championing assisted suicide are choosing to call it “Aid in Dying.”

This has far reaching implications for it means their agenda will lead to eliminating the need for physician involvement and the necessity that it be a voluntary act by the individual whose life is coming to an end.

4. Physician-assisted suicide will not continue to be strictly a personal, voluntary choice.

Though current laws require it to be voluntary, many anticipate on the basis of the equal protection clause in the 14th amendment that the option of aid in dying will be extended to those who are incapable of making a voluntary decision to ingest the lethal medications (or physically do so).

5. The freedom to choose assisted suicide may lead to a feeling of obligation.

Recognizing that continuing to live may be a burden on others, some may feel obligated to end their lives as a means of relieving loved ones of the burden and cost of giving end of life care.

6. Physician-assisted suicide is not the only option when experiencing a difficult death.

Palliative care is coming of age in the modern world of medicine. Much can be done to relieve both physical pain and the emotional, existential suffering that can accompany it.

7. Physician-assisted suicide does not guarantee a painless, dignified death.

In the majority of cases, after the lethal medication is ingested, patients who have opted for assisted suicide fall asleep and die comfortably within several hours. However, sometimes the medication causes vomiting, other distress, and/or does not lead to death for a number of hours or days.

8. Physician-assisted suicide is not strictly a personal decision that only impacts the one who chooses it.

We tell stories lauding the bravery of the first responders on September 11, 2001 but all too frequently view suicide as an act of weakness. We know that having a near relative who commits suicide increases the risk of suicide.

9. The prescribing physician is morally complicit in the assisted suicide.

A patient once told me, “All you have to do is write a prescription; I am the one responsible for my choice.” My response was to ask, “If I was a gun salesperson and someone told me they were buying a gun to kill themselves, did I not have the obligation to refuse to sell it to them?”

10. The church must equip God’s people to make God-honoring end of life choices.

Throughout a believer’s life, there may be a continuous struggle to submit to God’s control. But when my earthly life comes to an end I want to be fully surrendered to God and be able to rest in Jesus. Choosing assisted suicide would be just the opposite—taking rather than surrendering control.


by Brendon Ward


Rich in mercy

Grace and love

Born again

From above


Once was dead

Now alive

Raised with Christ

At the Father’s side


Coming ages

He to show

His grace and kindness

To those who know


Saved by grace

Through faith alone

Gift of God

In His Son


Not of works

Lest I boast

His workmanship

To glory boast


Called to works

Which He ordained

Before the world

Was ever framed



Once was dead
Tresspass and sin
Without hope
Without Him

Once this world
It’s course I walked
It’s judgement judged
It’s talk talked

Once that prince
To obey
Now still seen
Now displayed

Once by passion
I was led
Stony heart
Stony head

Once desire
Carried out
By will of heart
By what I felt

Once like all
In Adam-head
To sin alive
To God, dead



Poor in spirit

…Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 ESV

The Kingdom of Heaven is the possession of those who are otherwise spiritually impoverished.

The call of the gospel in these verses isn’t to the person who has everything but the Kingdom of God – rather, it is to those who have nothing apart from the Kingdom of Heaven.

Poverty of spirit vs. the Kingdom of God

If the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17), then it makes sense, if Jesus is doing any form of compare and contrast here, to suggest that poverty of spirit involves the realisation that in and of ourselves we do not have those things that constitute the Kingdom.

If the Kingdom of God is righteousness – then in and of ourselves, we not only have no-righteousness, but are altogether unrighteousness.  It’s not that we simply lack righteousness as a positive quality – it’s not simply that we are neutral when it comes to the question of righteousness – rather, it’s as if we possess unrighteousness – we possess that which is the opposite of righteousness.

If we think of righteousness in terms of justice – its not as if we have simply failed to do what is just – to plead the widows cause, to speak up for the vulnerable in our society etc – but rather, that we have directly contributed to the injustices we see around us – we are responsible for the widows cause, it’s like we killed her husband.  It’s like not just failing to speak out against abortion and euthanasia – but having actually crossed the line speaking out in favor of abortion and euthanasia.

That begins to describe our poverty of spirit.

If the Kingdom of God is peace – the in and of ourselves, we not only have no peace, but in its place we have whatever the opposite of peace is.

I really value solitude and silence.  I find it very difficult to read, study, pray, meditate, or write without almost total silence.  But the sound of every day life is not the absence of peace.  The sound of the dishwasher and refrigerator and the neighbour’s garage door and conversation – this is not the absence peace.  I don’t know anyone who would walk into my house and unless there was complete and utter silence suggest the absence of peace.

The opposite of peace is chaos, war, and conflict.

In terms of our poverty of spirit, this is not just about the inner chaos and conflict that so many people face – but something that the apostle Paul describes as enmity with God.  Hostile.  At war with.

Am I saying that in an of ourselves, apart from the grace of God, we are at war with God?  Yes!  Apart from the grace of God our minds are what Romans 8:7 are (as the older translations put it) carnal and the carnal mind is at enmity with God.

This is perhaps part of why Jesus said we must be born again and the epistles call us over and over to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds.

Lastly, Paul tells the Romans that the Kingdom of heaven is joy in the Holy Spirit.

If joy in the Holy Spirit is characteristic of the Kingdom, how could we contrast it to illustrate poverty of spirit?

Again, I think it’s more than just the absence of joy – as if poverty of spirit is about being an emotional flat-liner.  It’s not like poverty of spirit is a high-dose anti-depressant that takes away all the troughs and highs.  Poverty of spirit puts you in the trough, the deepest, darkest, nonnegotiable valley and pit.  That’s not simply the absence of joy, but rather, the presence of hopelessness.

That’s what Paul gets at when he describes the unbeliever as one without God and without hope.  It’s what he gets at when he talks about those who mourn without hope.

Without hope there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Without hope there is no “this too shall pass” or assessment of the difficulties of life as “light and momentary”.  To be without hope is to see this world with all its evils and conclude that this is as good as it gets.

So to be unrighteous, to be at enmity with God, and to be without hope – this perhaps begins to illustrate what it means to be poor in spirit.

It is once we realise that this is what we are in and of ourselves, that the promises of this verse become ours.  Jesus said “If this is what you are, in and of yourself – great, awesome, congratu-well-done… this is the necessary prerequisite for blessing…”  You see, blessing doesn’t come to those who have it mostly figured out, or even partly figured out… it’s not a case of “You do your best and God will do the rest.”  It’s more like God only uses empty vessels and if you’ve got something in and of yourself, you’re not an empty vessel.  If you think you’ve done enough to be worthy of God’s kingdom, if you’ve done enough good deeds, or if you have acheived some level of zen mastery, or you credit your optimism to your natural disposition – then you’re not an empty vessel and these blessings will elude you.

That’s why Peter says “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” – to those who realise the Biblical assessment of themselves apart from the grace of God in Christ in the gospel.

For in the Gospel, God takes Jesus Christ and essentially makes Him everything we were, and everything He wasn’t.  Jesus Christ was totally righteousness – having a 100% approval rating before God for all eternity; Jesus is even called by Isaiah the Prince of Peace; and Jesus, part of the eternal Trinity, in whose presence is fullness of joy, has had this fullness of joy for eternity – and yet what does the Scripture say “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

This is what is referred to as the great exchange.  All that we were, for all that He is.

Good Shepherd of My Soul

“Good Shepherd of my soul
Come dwell within me.
Take all I am and mould
Your likeness in me.
Before the cross of Christ
This is my sacrifice:
A life laid down
And ready to follow.

The troubled find their peace
In true surrender.
The prisoners their release
From chains of anger.
In springs of living grace
I find a resting place
To rise refreshed,
Determined to follow.

I’ll walk this narrow road
With Christ before me
Where thorns and thistles grow
And cords ensnare me.
Though doubted and denied
He never leaves my side
But lifts my head
And calls me to follow.

And when my days are gone
My strength is failing
He’ll carry me along
Through death’s unveiling
Earth’s struggles overcome
Heav’n’s journey just begun
To search Christ’s depths
And ever to follow.”

good shepherd of my soul— Words and Music by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Fionan de Barra, and Stuart Townend © 2013 Getty Music Publishing (BMI) and Fionan de Barra (admin and Townend Songs


an ongoing testimony of God's grace