Many Bible verses are used to try to support the false freewill doctrine, but by rightly dividing the word of truth they all end up confirming God’s sovereignty that much more. Take 2Peter3:9 for instance. It says, “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” At first glance, this seems to indicate that there are some in hell that God wanted to save but couldn’t. Yet, when read in context, it shows exactly who Peter was writing to…. the “Elect”….”to them that have obtained like precious faith.“ (1Pet.1:2, 2 Pet.1:1).
The key to understanding many of these verses is to know the difference between God’s preceptive will of command and God’s decretive will of purpose. We can resist His precepts and commands by not obeying Him. Yet, even with this resistance, God must allow it, so we’re not really resisting sovereignly and absolutely——only indirectly. God’s will of purpose is what actually happens because it’s what God has ordained and decreed and it cannot be resisted or changed.
According to Gods perceptive will of command, He naturally desires that all of His creatures obey His precepts for they are good and holy. His commands also show us how holy and good God is and how He is worthy to be worshipped. So anytime we go against His perfect precepts and commands, we are sinning against Him. As God, He desires and deserves all of our worship and praise, because it’s all of creations duty to worship the Creator. This is why it’s right for God to command all to repent, believe and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, even though He knows all will not do this.
According to God’s decretive will of purpose, He foreknew what would happen when people would be left to themselves. He foreknew that without His saving mercy, they’d refuse to keep His commands and reject Christ and the offer of salvation (Jn.12:39-40). This is why He could infallibly decree that they would not inherit salvation. He didn’t make them wicked and didn’t cause them to sin by leaving them to themselves. Neither does He predestine people to hell in the same sense that He predestines people to heaven, that would be “equal ultimacy,” which is a heresy. He just foreknows that those He leaves to themselves will end up in hell due to the natural consequences of sin. He takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezek.18:23, 32; 33:11). And He does no harm to the creature by leaving them in the condition in which He originally made them—-upright (Eccl. 7:29), so that they are without excuse. And this is one way He makes His power known and one way He reveals how bad sin is. But He does all of this sinlessly and is justified in all that He does (Rom.1:20, 24, 28; 9:22).
God foreknows all things because He foreordains all things (Rom.11:36, Rev.4:11). He not only ordains the ends, but the means as to what will happen and how it will happen. Human actions are one of the means that God uses to accomplish His will. Our actions do not direct God’s will, but His will directs our actions. He doesn’t infuse evil into the wicked, He only directs the evil that was already in their hearts. For example, God prophesied to Moses that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart for His purpose of being glorified in the deliverance of Israel (Ex.4:21). This is why God could infallibly declare to Moses that Pharaoh would refuse to listen, because He was going to leave Pharaoh to his own sinful, fallen will (Ex.7:13, 22; 8:15; 9:12). And note: God could NOT have infallibly declared Pharaoh’s destiny if Pharaoh could have, by his own “free” will, repented and changed his own heart and mind (Rom.9:17).
God foreknew His people in a special way, for He elected them to be holy and blameless before time began (Eph.1:4). He also knows those who aren’t His elect, but only in a general way because He created them. “The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Prov.16:4, Rom.9:17). Hell and the wicked exist to reveal how terrible sin is. Those who end up there are paying their own sin debt, which is impossible—-to show that sin is an eternal offense with eternal consequences. Hell also exists to show how incredibly merciful God is and how much Jesus suffered on behalf of His people in order to save them.
So naturally, its God’s perceptive will of command that all repent, believe and BE SAVED (2Pet.3:9), because it’s our reasonable duty to our Maker. Yet, His decretive will of purpose chooses (for reasons unknown to us) not to exert His power TO SAVE all people. It’s as if God reserves His special, irresistible love only for those He’s elected to be in His own family. And He obviously set things up this way to show that it had nothing to do with us, but that “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).
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