Can there be many wills or desires of God and yet all of them be perfect?
- God's will is perfect, whatever His will may be.
- God always executes His will perfectly, whatever actions He may take to accomplish it so.
- God does not lie.
This question can be broken down into two main questions:
- Can there be more than one perfect manner to execute a perfect will?
- Can there be more than one will of God?
Given the assumptions above, there are multiple perfect manners in which to execute a perfect will and therefore there are multiple wills of God.
As we know from our schooling in math and science, proving a statement to be false is a simpler task as it only requires demonstrating a single instance where that statement is not true given the assumptions. But when dealing with statements about God's will, it is equally simple to prove a statement to be true as it is to prove a statement to be false due to the assumption that whatever actions God takes are perfect in nature.
Using the approach described above, in order to prove there are multiple perfect manners in which to execute a perfect will, all that is required is to show a single case where God stated His will to be one action initially but reconsiders and states a contrary will as His "new" will, aka God changing His mind. Also using the same approach, in order to prove there are multiple wills of God, all this is required is to show one instance where God performs an identical task more than once that have different results or outcomes.
Multiple Manners (Different Action, Same Perfect Will):
- Exodus 32:7-14 (NIV)
- In verse 10 God states, "Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make into a great nation"
- But God "relents" and changes His mind or will in verse 14 as we read, "Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened."
- This clearly means that God could either have destroyed all of Israel and essentially started over with the nation of Israel through Moses or continued the course with the nation of Israel as it had currently existed and not destroy the people, as He ultimately decided, and both/either of them were/are perfect desires/wills for God to manifest.
- In the example above not only does God initially state one desire then relents and states another desire but these desires are contrary to one another meaning that both cannot be accomplished. Indeed, God can choose to enact His will using a variety of methods, even methods that are contrary to one another, and yet they are all His perfect will.
- Genesis 2:8-9 (NIV)
- At the end of verse 9 we read, "In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
- This verse clearly states that God, through His action of creation of the Earth, planted two trees in the garden, one representing life through obedience to God and the other representing death through disobedience to God and the acknowledgement of sin.
- Revelation 22:1-3 (NIV)
- As we read in verse 2, "On each side of the river stood the tree of life" which is a prophecy describing the New Jerusalem at the end of days.
- This verse clearly states that God, also through His action of creation of the New Jerusalem, will plant two trees yet again, however they both will represent life. This fact indicates there will no longer be disobedience or acknowledgement of sin which is confirmed in verse 3 where we read, "No longer will there be any curse.". One might contend that these are two different actions since God was/is creating two different things, then why are there two trees of life in the New Jerusalem, why not just one. This fact seems to indicate that God is intentionally mirroring what He did in the past to what He will do in the future so that we may know it to be the same act of creation but with different results.
- In the example above we see God through the same act of creation, determine different outcomes. In His creation of Earth He created an environment where disobedience to Him could exist and therefore ordained the curse of death upon man. However, in His creation of the New Jerusalem, God will create an environment where only obedience to Him can exist and therefore fulfilling His promise of eternal life as "[t]here will be no more death" (Rev 21:4b NIV). Indeed, God can and does have multiple wills with differing outcomes.
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)
- As we read in verse 1, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens"
- There is even "a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace" as we read in verse 8. If this is the case how much more so is there a time for God to show love of His creation through mercy and grace in His perfect will and a time to show hatred of sin through punishment and death in His perfect will.
God does indeed have multiple wills and yet all of them remain completely perfect.
Why Does This Matter:
God is either in control or He is not, He is either supreme and sovereign or He is not. The answer to this question provides us an explanation, although it is as a poor reflection in a mirror, of how God is ultimately in control while we still have choices of obedience or disobedience. Picture it like multiple vectors which all eventually converge to a single point, that point being our eternal destination. There are many paths that we can choose to take but we do not get to determine the quantity, direction, velocity, or terminal point (convergence) of these paths only God does, so any and all of these paths are fully within God's sovereign will and they all lead to the same destination, the destination chosen for us by God since the foundations of the world. So, simply because God has ordained a path for us to be disobedient and receive punishment doesn't mean that we should not choose to be obedient and receive the blessings of another path that He has also ordained for us. Our goal, simply stated, is to remain obedient, regardless of the other paths or the outcomes.