God’s Will, explained....

Are God’s plans or His will ever thwarted?

Why does God give grace to people that He knows will never believe anyway?

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians: “Here is what happens: We see that Scripture indicates it is God’s will for people to obey Him, believe in Him, etc. But we know that God’s will is not always done. The Calvinist looks at this and says, ‘God must therefore be causing those who do not do His will, to not do so, thereby making it all, actually, His will.’ The Arminian looks at it and says, ‘Obviously God has allowed for His will to be defied, and in that way, His will is being done, even when His will is defied (by allowance), though it is most fully done when people (with free will) actually do His ideal will.’ In my opinion, the Calvinist view is bizarre and nonsensical (causing people to not do His will, and in that way, making it His will after all), while the Arminian view is natural and coherent (in the case of someone who has power to enforce His will, His will is done either by permission or by cooperation; of course, God will enforce His will in many things, but we are talking about people entering into relationship with Him). That’s the way it normally works in relationships.”

Another member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians: “Calvinists believe that God’s will is always done, never thwarted (in reference to God’s secret will or sovereign will, or ‘total plan’ that encompasses every event that occurs). So they would say based on their belief in exhaustive determinism (the secret plan, the sovereign plan of God that predetermines all events), that God’s ‘will is’ never thwarted in any way. I think we need to make a distinction between God’s unilateral actions (i.e. when God alone is acting, in such cases, no one stops Him or thwarts His purpose or plan, and you will note that Calvinists often cite Bible passages that are, in fact, speaking of when God acts unilaterally, in which case, His purpose or desire is never thwarted). On the other hand, there are also cases where God has a plan or desire for something that involves the actions of human persons, and these actions are freely chosen actions as well (bilateral actions, i.e. when God is acting and calls, or commands or desires people to do something, people do not always obey their call or obey His commands or do what God desires to be done, so in this sense, God’s plans or desires, or ‘will’ can be thwarted). Now this may seem similar to the Calvinist’s ‘two wills,’ but it is very different. With the Calvinist’s two wills, His will is always done, His plans never thwarted, ever, no exceptions (so the Calvinist’s two wills concept is misleading, as the will of prescription or command is a subset of, or part of, or subsumed under, the secret and total will). On the other hand, with the distinction that I am making here: God’s purposes that involve His own unilateral actions are never thwarted while God’s purposes that involve bilateral actions, specifically including the freely chosen actions of men, can and are sometimes thwarted (an important example being that God desires the salvation of all men, and yet some men will continually and repeatedly reject God’s purpose, a key example of this is the actions of the Israelites in the Old Testament who repeatedly violated God’s will, thwarted His plan for them that they be faithful to Him and the covenants He made with them). It is not ‘failure’ or ‘weakness’ of God’s part if purposes involving bilateral actions don’t always go the way that He wants, because in these instances, the persons failing, the persons not doing the right thing are always human persons and never God (which is why the Bible speaks of Him being faithful when we are not faithful, a clear Bible passage making this point). Also, if God sovereignly decides, and then brings about a world and a human nature (by creating the world the way that it is, and creating human nature with the capacity to make choices both obedient and disobedient to God’s will) that can and does sometimes freely choose to go against His will, then human sin is not due to weakness in God, nor is it ‘failure’ on the part of God. Instead, it is part of God’s design that this can happen, and when it does happen, it is our responsibility, not God’s, when we do the wrong thing (the responsibility principle is that we are responsible for what we do, for what we had control over, e.g., I may not control the weather but I am responsible for driving unsafely during certain weather conditions and causing an accident).”
One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains: 

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 creature’s free decisions to disobey. 

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 consists of 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, whichever way the person chooses.

By his antecedent will, God wills that all people will be saved, if they repent and believe, and He funds all peoples and persons with the grace to begin the journey of salvation. Consequent to the actions of persons, God renders judgment. For example, a judge may antecedently will all the citizens to live, yet consequent to the fact that some decide to be murderers, he wills the criminals to be punished. Likewise God antecedently wills all persons should be brought to eternal blessedness, yet consequent to the operation of other wills who reject grace and follow another way, God wills that those people face the consequences of their actions (cf. Rom. 2:6; 2 Cor. 5:10 and the like).

The Pragmatics

God the Spirit’s work to reconcile all people and persons to God the Father through the Son, whose efforts are defined as “grace,” are either embodied and acted upon by people or they serve to condemn. 

Pragmatically God’s grace brings about one of two results:

1.grace is embodied by the recipient in a good work; or, 
2.grace is rejected by the recipient. 


  • God either works through the person, or, 
  • the person selects their own way, a self-effort. 


  • God merits the good and 
  • man merits the bad. 

God’s ministry of grace reveals God’s sincere love and concern for all people and persons since all are provided sufficient means to begin walking toward the Lord. It is vital to remember that God provides grace to bring about action and that He never reveals any truth to a person except to have that person embody and live out life according to the truth that has been revealed. If a person acts out their inward conviction and belief, then the Lord will continue to reveal more and more to that person. But if a person disbelieves and acts against what God has inwardly revealed by ignoring what God has revealed through his ministry of grace when it has been repeatedly presented to him, then the time will come when God no longer reveals truth to that person and the eyes of such people are blinded and their hearts become hardened. Their hearts are hardened not because God ceases to call to them by means of grace but because such people have brought themselves to a place were they are unwilling and unable to hear the call of the Lord. In 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 we read of “them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” This is solemn language and we all would do well to heed it. 

The Big Idea

The conclusion from non-Calvinist thought, the consensus from the ancient, primitive church found in both the Latin and Greek church fathers that is preserved in Arminian theology, glossed over by medieval scholasticism, ignored by Enlightenment and unheard of by scholastic, modern theology, is that, come the Judgment Seat, the grace that God gives to all persons either:

  • Glorifies the Lord through the good deeds, thoughts and actions that are reflective of his image and reveal that he is the source of all that is good. 
  • Or reveals his constant love and mercy toward those who ignored and rejected his ministry of grace throughout their lifetimes. 

As such, at the Judgment Seat, the grace the Lord rained upon all persons ultimately either:

  • Glorifies the Lord in and through a people whose thoughts and actions reflect the image of God; or, 
  • the grace that was given upholds the justice and righteousness of condemnation where the condemned stand self-convicted of the fact that the Lord continually reached out to them to draw them unto himself but they rejected all of his servants and even rejected his continual inward witness to the bitter end. 

Those people who ignore salvation, that resist the grace they are lovingly and mercifully given, build mansions in which they will never live and plant vineyards they will never harvest, to their ever-lasting peril race toward judgment.