Desiderative Will

The desiderative will of God refers to the goodness, mercy and longsuf-fering of the Lord in offering mankind His saving grace. It is His desire for all men not to perish but be saved.

This aspect of God’s will can be seen in the following verses:

1. “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11) See also Ezekiel 18:23, 32.

2. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

3. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

From these verses, we see that God is not a dictator like Nero or Hitler to exult in the destruction of the wicked. It is in His goodness that sinners should turn to Him in repentance and be saved.

One good example of the desiderative will of God is seen in the book of Jonah. When the people of Nineveh repented from their sin and wickedness, the LORD forgave them and spared the city from destruction. How wonderful are the mercies of the LORD!

However, Jonah was not pleased with God. How could the LORD spare the enemies of Israel? The LORD thus had to use an object lesson to show Jonah that as Creator, He is justified to show care and compassion to all His creatures. Jonah should set aside all his prejudice, and extend the same love and compassion to his enemies. How about us?

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) The plain sense of this verse demands that the term “world” refers to the whole of mankind. John 3:16 thus talks about how the saving grace in the gospel is extended to all men without discrimination. When commenting himself states that God in this verse “invites all indiscriminately to salvation through the gospel”.

Alas, there are those who out-Calvin Calvin. These are the hyper-Calvinists who teach that God’s goodness and love only extends to the elect. Timothy Tow rightly observes that such teaching is akin to a bookstore having a storewide sale and putting out a sign saying “Only buyers can enter!”

Is it true that God’s love and goodness extends only to the elect? “Nay!” says the Scriptures. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

Augustine thus sums up the issue well with his saying, “Sufficient for all, efficient for the elect”. The atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is universal or unlimited in its sufficiency and availability. Thus, the gospel offer is open to all and should be preached indiscriminately and without exception. Thus, our Tabernacle BPC’s main gospel tract is unashamedly entitled “The Love of God”. We preach God’s love to everyone that they may hear the good news of Christ and find eternal life. On the other hand, the atonement is limited or particular in its intention, design and ultimate results. It is God’s desiderative will that men should not perish but all to come unto salvation, yet it is only those whom God has elected who will be saved. (To be covered under the decretive will of God)

What happens when one fails to understand the desiderative will of God? It will only be a matter of time that zeal of evangelism and missions will decrease. This was the experience of William Carey who was told by the Mission Board that there was no need for him to go to India because those whom God had predestined, He will save. Thankfully, William Carey did not listen to the Board. He went to minister in India to the glory of God.

For the saints, a right understanding of God’s desiderative will should lead them to a greater love, longsuffering and compassion for souls who are still bound to the chains of sin. Thus, constrained by the love of Christ, we must double-up in our efforts to preach God’s Word and evangelise, for it is God’s desire that man should be delivered from his sins. We must also be longsuffering and compassionate to those who have backslidden. There should be no joy in seeing anyone stray into the path of iniquity and wickedness, but a sincere and gracious desire for their restoration. Does this describe you?

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew

Divine loveatonment