Is it true that every time we sin, we thwart God’s Will for our life? Yes, of course. However, we can never thwart God’s overall purpose for creation and mankind. Hence, it is necessary to give further consideration to the nature of God’s Will.
- God’s Antecedent Will is what He wants to be the case.
- God’s Consequent Will is what He allows to be the case, in spite of His Antecedent Will, and is consequent to the creature’s free decisions to obey or disobey.
As an example, consider an illustration in which the Antecedent Will of our founding fathers was that all of our citizens enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, though the Consequent Will is to deprive certain citizens of that right, should they violate certain laws and thus instead come to be in need of incarceration.168 Similarly, God antecedently desires that all men receive His free offer of forgiveness through the gospel, though He will consequently deprive people of the hope of spending eternity with Him in Heaven if they perish in a state of rejecting Him.
Regarding God’s overall purpose for creation and mankind:
- God’s Unilateral Will is when He alone does an action, in which His actions can never be thwarted or prevented or stopped or hindered in any way.
- God’s will concerning others involves an Antecedent Will, which is what He wants to be the case, and a Consequent Will which is what He allows to be the case, depending upon whichever way a person chooses.
In Calvinism, God desires the salvation of certain individuals that He never intended to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. That Will is just a hopeless contradiction. In non-Calvinism, though, God desires the salvation of everyone, and has provided the means of salvation to everyone through the Cross, but allows people the dubious privilege of rejecting Him (and spending eternity apart from Him) or the glorious privilege of accepting Him (and spending eternity with Him in Heaven). That’s complimentary. Moreover, God’s Consequent Will is never sinful because He does not cause the evil human motives and intentions that He uses, whereas in Calvinism, God has a total plan of all things to happen exactly as they are, in which He meticulously, exhaustively, unchangeably, unilaterally, universally and purposefully causes every human intention, good and evil, thus making Him the mastermind of this sinful world. As such, God according to Calvinism, would not be acting consequently to people’s actions (i.e. extending the offer of the banquet to additional groups at Matthew 22:9, as a consequence of the first group rejecting the offer), but instead God would be acting to achieve all that was previously, antecedently decreed.
What do Calvinists believe?
Was it God’s will that Jesus be murdered on the Cross?
Only consequently. God antecedently willed for Adam and Eve to remain faithful in the Garden of Eden, and serve as suitable caretakers for His creative ways. God willed Calvary only consequently as a means to redeem fallen mankind. By contrast in Calvinism, God willed Calvary as part of a total plan of all things, in which God antecedently willed the creation, fall and redemption of mankind, the death of His Son, and the bifurcation of humanity into elect and non-elect components. In other words, in Calvinism, there is no Consequent Will—only the Antecedent Will, and their Antecedent Will is subdivided between a Secret Will and a Revealed Will, in which only the Secret Will is what God truly desires and brings to pass, while the Revealed Will is sort of like a fantasy island which ponders all that could be, had God decreed things differently.
168 Helpful illustration provided by the Society of Evangelical Arminians.