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Doctrine of God: The Decrees of God II

January 10, 2021 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Review (Ephesians 4.7-16)

Today we are going to continue our study in the Decrees of God.

Let us remind ourselves what the Westminster Confession says about the Decrees of God, Chapter 1, Article 1

God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

We spent our time last week discussing the first part of this...”from all eternity”

Remember, we said this meant that all that things which happen, are by the determinate counsel of God.

In describing this doctrine, we recognized that It is only natural that God who controls all things should have a definite plan. We see His plan working

  • accordingly in creation.
  • accordingly in Providence.
  • accordingly in process of redemption.

We recognized the following response/ characteristics this doctrine should elicit:

  1. It exalts the majesty and absolute sovereignty of God, while illustrating the riches of his free grace and his just displeasure with sin.
  2. It enforces upon us the essential truth that salvation is entirely of grace
  3. It brings us to absolute self-despair, and the embrace of Christ
  4. In the case of the believer, this doctrine at once deepens his humility in all things and elevates confidence in the full assurance of hope and faith.

Finally, let us remind ourselves of what John Dick, a Scottish Thelogian from the early 1800’s:

That ‘upon such a subject no man should be ashamed to acknowledge his ignorance.’


Are you ready? It’s always exciting learning and studying what the Scriptures reveal to us about God.

In a day and age where people no longer feel like they need God and feel like they can decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong…

We have a tremendous blessing to be able to study this doctrine together.

With that, we’ll begin with the first part of our definition of what is meant by the phrase, “The Decrees of God”

God from all eternity did,
by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will,
freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass

From all Eternity

God hath freely and unchangeably ordered whatsoever comes to pass.

  • Freely -> God is not compelled to give but he gives it freely.
  • Unchangeably -> It is unchangeable because God is immutable.

Although God knows whatsoever shall come to pass…

  • He has not decreed anything because he foresaw what is the future
  • What He has decreed comes to pass because He is the all-powerful God

We’ve heard teaching before of how...

  • God looks down the corridors of time…..or
  • that He knows first who will choose Him and therefore, because of that person’s future action, He goes back in time and then elects them to salvation.

But based on what we’ve studied and learned together over the past several weeks and months, we can reflect upon what we know about the attributes of God as revealed in the Scriptures.

Let’s think back to what we know about God and time.

  • We know that God exists outside of time
  • We know that God created time

For God, then, to look into the future to see what is going to happen and then somehow return to the past or present and then report on what happened…

  • Would mean that time and space is something other and apart from God.
  • Would mean that God is not really all-powerful if He is limited by time
  • Would mean that, therefore, this conception of God cannot really be God
  • Would mean time and space is something created not by God but by something else that then becomes a framework within which God operates

Since that teaching does not comport with the attributes of God…we know, then, no matter how “good” it might sound and how “good” it might make us feel as we try to bring God down to our level of understanding….

  • That teaching cannot be true.

Rather, from the Scriptures, we should understand God that He declares the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46.9-10)

  • He is the one who wrote the book as an author pens a book in his mind.
  • He knows what He wants to write about, who the characters are, and what roles each character will play
  • Otherwise, it would be like a reader of the book thinking he can change the course of the book because he “feels” like it should be different.

Next, we’ll look at four characteristics of the Divine Decree.

Most Wise and Holy Counsel of His Own Will

The divine decree is founded upon Divine Wisdom.

  • It is God's purpose, according to his own will.
  • Ephesians 1:11 - God's purpose is according to his own will.
    • The decree has been founded on divine wisdom the council of God.
    • The divine decree is eternal.
      • The formation of the decree is and remains an act of God.
      • In the strictest sense is eternal.
  • Ephesians 1:4 – The decree of salvation is from the foundation of the world.
    • He has chosen a people before the foundation of the world
    • He has predestinated them to become the adopted sons of God..

The divine decree is efficacious (having the power to produce a desired effect)

  • In other words, all that God has decreed will certainly come to pass
    • Although some acts will be accomplished through secondary causes.
    • Nothing can thwart the purpose of God.
  • Psalm 33:11
    • The council of the Lord stands forever
  • Proverbs 19:21
    • Judgments are prepared for the scorners and stripes for the backs of fools
  • Job 23:13-14
    • He is of one mind.
    • God doesn't think many different thoughts.
    • God try to make a decision from many different ideas.
  • Isaiah 46:10
    • That God declares the end from the beginning.
    • That the things that are not yet done shall stand.
    • That God will do all His good pleasure.
      • It will come to pass it does not change.
    • Look how Isaiah declares declaring the end from the beginning.
      • We cannot change the mind of God.
        • It would mean that we have superior intelligence to God.
        • It would mean we were on one thing no better than God.

The decree of God is unconditional.

  • God has determined what will come to pass.
  • God has determined the conditions under which it will be realized.
  • God has determined not upon anything outside of the free actions of God.
  • It is unconditional.
  • Ephesians 8.
    • Salvation is an act of God.
    • It is not conditional --- It is unconditional.
  • Acts 23:6
    • Jesus was delivered by the determinant counsel and for knowledge of God.
  • 1 Peter 1:2
    • God’s decrees are unconditional. It must come to pass.

The decree is all comprehensive.

  • It includes the good actions of men.
    • Ephesians 2:10
      • We were unto good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
  • It includes the wicked actions of men.
    • Proverbs 16 :4
      • The Lord hath made all things for himself. Yea even the wicked for the day of evil the wicked actions of man were decreed by God
    • Acts 23:7
      • Jesus was delivered by wicked men.
    • Joseph
      • What others meant for evil God meant for good
    • Proverbs 16:33
      • It is the Lord that decreed the numbers that would turn up on the dice.
  • It includes the means as well as the end.
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:13
      • God hath ordained the means.
    • Ephesians 1:4
      • We were chosen before the foundation of the world but in Christ that means of choosing us unto salvation.
  • It Includes the duration of man's life.
    • Job 14:5
      • Man’s days are determined

Conclusion: Decrees of God

In conclusion, we’ve seen that the decrees exist from all eternity.

  • They are not created or modified or canceled based upon evolving circumstances or our personal challenges, thoughts, or desires.

They are based upon His free and unchangeable, most wise and holy counsel of His own will.

  • He doesn’t take nor does He need our counsel or approval.

Finally, His most wise and holy counsel of His will is

  • Efficacious – it will not fail to come to fruition
  • Unconditional
  • Comprehensive – it includes both the good and bad actions of men, and it includes the means as well as the ends which they achieve

Next week we’ll look at the concept of secondary causes and the relationship with man’s will.


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