God’s Decreed Will and His Declared Will

We must distinguish between God’s decreed (or predestined) will and his declared (or prescribed) will. They differ in that:

1. God’s decree is not revealed to us. We only know an event was decreed by God after it has occurred. God’s prescribed will is revealed to us.

2. What God has decreed always occurs (Job 9:12, 23:13; Psa. 115:3; Dan. 4:35). What God declares often does not occur.

3. What God has decreed is often contrary to what he has declared or commanded. (see Gen. 50:20; 2 Sam. 16:5-12; Lk. 22:22; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28).

4. We are not responsible to fulfill God’s decree. We are responsible to obey his declared or revealed will.

This principle has application to the issues of evangelism, prayer, and everyday Christian living. Often people ask if God has chosen to save some and pass over others, why do we need to evangelize. Won’t God save them no matter what we do or don’t do? The answer is, we witness the gospel because God has commanded us to evangelize. We are not responsible to fulfill God’s decree, but we are responsible to obey his commands. Additionally, God uses the means he has commanded to accomplish his decreed will.

If God has decreed everything that will happen, why should we pray? Again, the answer is that God uses the means he has commanded to bring about his decreed purpose. From our point of view, prayer changes the circumstances we find ourselves in. James wrote, “you don’t have because you don’t ask.” From God’s point of view, prayer is merely the means for effecting his purpose.

The same principle applies to everyday decisions about living to the glory of God. We are not to try to figure out what God has decreed for us during a given day. We are to order our lives according to God’s will revealed in his Word.

“Providence is a Christian’s diary–but not his Bible.”
Thomas Watson

Study Questions

1. In what ways must we distinguish between the decreed will of God and his revealed will?
2. How do these principles help us understand our duty relative to evangelism, prayer, Christian living.
3. Cite two verses that indicate God always accomplishes his decreed will.
4. Cite three biblical examples in which what God has decreed is contrary to his declared will.
5. Consider the following verses and answer whether “God’s will” in the verse refers to his decreed will or his declared will.
Daniel 4:35
Matt. 6:10
Matt. 23:37
Eph. 1:5
Heb. 13:21
James 1:18
2 Peter 3:9
1 John 5:14-15


2 Responses to “God’s Decreed Will and His Declared Will”

  1. November 13, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Would it be accurate to say that what God declares has been decreed, but all that is decreed is not declared?

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