Though their stories in Luke 1 are strikingly similar, Zechariah and Mary have two significant differences that Luke highlights to teach an amusingly ironic and encouraging lesson about grace and faith.
Here are their similarities:
- Both are visited by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:19; 1:26-27)
- Both are promised the miraculous birth of a son (Luke 1:13; 1:31)
- Both are equally unfit to have a child: Zechariah's wife is barren, and Mary is a virgin (Luke 1:7; Luke 1:27)
- Both respond with equal perplexity—"How?" (Luke 1:18; 1:34)
One indication that Luke is intentionally trying to compare Zechariah and Mary is that he has bothered to list these parallels at all. He didn't have to mention t…
If you've never before heard about the existence of two wills in God, I recommend reading John Piper's article, "Are There Two Wills in God?" (which is also an appendix in the book The Pleasures of God).
In essence, what the doctrine states is that there are... well... two wills in God. The first will is his will of command (or as Edwards says below, "law"). This is expressed through God's revealed desires for people, desires such as "Thou shalt not kill," or "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
The second will is his will of decree, which is the will by which God brings to pass all that actually happens, whether it accords with his will of command or not. This is also known a…