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Grace Bible Church

Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries

The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.

The Doctrine of Divine Decrees.

We started this study with a definition:  The Decree of God refers to His Eternal (always existed), Holy (perfect integrity), Wise (the application of Omniscience to creation), and Sovereign purpose, comprehending simultaneously all things that ever were or will be in their causes, conditions (status), successions (interaction with others that leads to certain decisions), relations, and determining the certainty of their future.

ISA 46:8-11 says "Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; {I am} God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure; Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned {it, surely} I will do it."

Notice the phrase in ISA 46:10 "Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done,"

This is a reference to the fact that God decreed and determined all things to happen.  The Omniscience of God knew everything in relation to all of the things pertaining to it.  Although we classify the Decrees as being plural, in reality it is all one decree.  All of this is very technical but it is very important to understand. It is a reminder to us all that billions and billions of years ago before man existed God had us all personally in mind.

This entire principle is discussed in Ephesians 1, verses 3-6 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved."

EPH 1:11 "also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,"

And EPH 3:11 says "This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,"

The Decrees of God then are His eternal and immutable will regarding the future existence of all events which will happen in time and the precise manner and order of their occurrence.  This means the eternal plan by which God has rendered certain all of the events of the universe, both angelic history and human history, past, present, and future.  The Decrees of God are the chosen and adopted plan of God for all of His works.

The Decrees of God are also His eternal purpose according to the counsels of His own will whereby for His own glory He has foreordained whatever comes to pass.  The Decrees are the all-inclusive will and purpose of God concerning all that ever was or ever will be.  Because God is Omniscient, He knew everything that would ever happen and He knew it in one moment of time.  These Decrees originate wholly with God and He alone objectively designed them for His own glory and for His satisfaction.  The fact that our life hangs by a very fine thread for His glory and for His satisfaction ought to cause all believers to take their calling and election seriously.

All decrees were simultaneous; God did not give them by stages. However our finite mind must understand them by stages rather than as one Divine Decree, we must perceive them by logical and chronological progression.

All decrees are efficacious, in that they determine all that ever was, all that is, and all that ever will be, but the Decrees are viewed by man from two standpoints.

First, from this standpoint of efficacious which means that which is accomplished directly by God from His sovereignty.

Secondly, from the standpoint of permissiveness which means that which is appointed by God to be accomplished by secondary causes or by the free will and action of agents.

From this comes the concept that the Sovereignty of God and the free will of man co-exist in human history by Divine Decree.


Point 2. There are five characteristics of the Divine Decrees.


First, the Decrees are all comprehensive. That means that not the slightest uncertainty could ever exist as to one of the smallest or most insignificant of events without confusion to all.  Therefore, all events in the life of every person are interwoven and interdependent.  God is not the author of confusion and God is never caught off guard not knowing something.  Everything we think, why we think it, and the environment in which we think it, was all known to God in eternity past.  This also says everything in life is a chain of cause and effect events.  This is one of the meanings behind such passages as; LUK 12:6-7 "Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? And {yet} not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows."

Although it may not seem to us that our life has been blended perfectly together by God, in heaven we will understand that it was!  God is perfect and therefore He gave each of us life at the exact time that He knew would be best.  This includes the environment that is best for each of us.  God also picked our parents, the color of our skin, our gender, He picked what genes we would have.  So, God has always known everything that anyone has ever done or will ever do and God has decreed for all these things to exist.

Secondly, the Divine Decrees are eternal.  God is not gaining in knowledge, what God has known at any time He has always known.  Omniscience means God knew simultaneously everything that ever was or will be.  God knew every event, complete in their causes, conditions, successions, and relations.  Understanding the omniscience of God is a great factor in understanding the Divine Decrees.  Therefore, the Decrees are the eternal and simultaneous knowledge of Omniscience expressing the will of God by which all things are brought into being and controlled and are made subject to His Divine pleasure, and result in His eternal glory.

Thirdly, God is perfect; therefore, His Decrees are perfect.  They are not perfect in content, because they include evil, sin, failure, etc.  But, everything that would ever happen was always known to God, His is a perfect system of comprehension.  It may not always appear that way to us because we have a tendency to be relative and temporal and not realize that God sees the end of what He's doing!

DEU 32:4 "The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He."

The fourth characteristic is that the Decrees are unchangeable and certain. Nothing can possibly occur to necessitate a change, God is never caught "not knowing" something.  God has never had to make any changes or any adjustments in the Divine Decrees.

The fifth characteristic is that the Decrees are the free choice of God in eternity past.  God is not bound to follow any necessary path.  This is the most important point, one that many Theologians do not understand.

Everything in the Divine Decrees ultimately will bring glory to God.  Whether the agents are the elect Angels like Michael and Gabriel or fallen angels like Satan and Abaddon or whether the agents are believers or unbelievers, the Divine Decrees have been ultimately designed to bring glory to God.  God is going to be glorified with or without us.

ISA 43:7 "Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made."

ISA 48:11 "For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can {My name} be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another."

Our sufferings and heartaches will bring glory to God, ROM 8:18 "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

Speaking of our Lord's suffering and death on the cross, Heb 2:9 "But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, {namely,} Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor."

Speaking of the betrayal by Judas Iscariot and handing our Lord over to the Romans to be crucified, our Lord said inJOH 12:23 "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."

God, from His own sovereign volition, invented free will in two categories of creatures, angels and mankind, so that both categories can choose for or against God.  However, both categories of creatures were created for God's glory! REV 4:11 "Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created."

It is because of the will of God that we were created and it is why we exist and it is also because of the will of God that we possess a free will.

PRO 16:4 "The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil."

This does not mean that He made the wicked, wicked.  It simply means that ultimately God will be glorified either by the positive volition of His creatures or through negative volition.

The Decrees of God are the adopted and chosen plan of God for all His works.  Even the plan to crucify The Lord Jesus Christ was a part of the Divine Decrees, ACT 4:27-28, "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Thy hand and Thy purpose predestined to occur."

God the Father did not violate their free will and make them crucify His Son and then send them to eternal damnation.  If He had it would have made Him unjust and God cannot be anything but just and righteous! Although the Decrees of God are His eternal purpose according to the counsels of His own will whereby for His own glory He has foreordained whatever comes to pass, foreordaining something does not mean to violate human volition.

God knew who would believe in Christ and knowing that He provided fantastic equal privilege under the print-out of predestination.

EPH 2:10 says that we have the opportunity for good achievements inside the Pre-Designed Plan of God as a part of equal privilege of election.  God has prepared this in advance, this is the divine provision of our portfolio of invisible assets prepared by God in advance in eternity past for every Church-age believer.  It all means that we as believers should walk by means of our invisible assets.  When we realize this and when we understand doctrine of Divine Decrees we can understand such passages as; ROM 6:4 "So we too might walk in newness of life."

EPH 4:1 "Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called."

We are to walk in victory because of what the Lord has done.

Concerning our sins, look at ISA 44:21-23 "Remember these things, O Jacob, And Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you, you are My servant, O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me. I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud, And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.  Shout for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done it! Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth; Break forth into a shout of joy, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it; For the Lord has redeemed Jacob And in Israel He shows forth His glory."

God knew simultaneously in eternity past everything that would ever happen in human history (every thought, every action and every decision of every creature).  God knew how everything would relate to each other, how every person would relate to each other.  We were all in the mind of God billions and billions of years ago, all of us with all of our problems, every single one of them.

The question is do we believe it?  Remember ROM 10:17 says "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ."

HEB 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."

Point 3. The logical order of the Divine Decrees.

The Bible presents to us the principle of a pre-creation reality.  Inasmuch as the Decrees were simultaneously known by the Omniscience of God, they were also simultaneously decreed by God, this is known as the concept of Lapsarianism.

Lapsarianism is a Theological subject dealing with the logical order of the Divine Decrees and this provides the logical environment as well as the logical order for the elective decrees.  Remember that all decrees occurred simultaneously in the mind of God but we think of them logically to explain how all these things are working together.  Logical order means that although the entire decree is one thought in the mind of God, the principle of cause and effect is involved in human perception and in human understanding.

Let's note the correct order of the elective decrees as it relates to the human race, not the angelic race, because we don't have all the decrees of the angelic race given to us in the Bible.

First, God decreed the creation of all mankind with free will in the status of perfection to resolve the prehistoric angelic conflict, and to bring many sons into glory.  Being brought into glory means there is a Christian way of life, a way to glorify God after salvation.

Secondly, God decreed to permit the fall of mankind through the function of his own determination, his own volition as the extension of the angelic conflict into human history.  Angels had a fall, therefore man must have a fall to resolve the conflict.  This duplicates Satan's fall and the subsequent existence of fallen angels.

Thirdly, God decreed to provide eternal salvation for all mankind under the doctrine of Unlimited atonement. God is fair and provides for all, He doesn't arbitrarily assign creatures to Hell.

Unlimited atonement means that all sins in human history were imputed to Jesus Christ on the cross and judged, so that Christ is the issue and not sins, 2CO 5:14-15, 19; 1TI 2:6; 1TI 4:10; TIT 2:11; Heb 2:9; 2PE 2:1; 1JO 2:2.

Fourth, God decreed to leave the reprobate (those who reject Christ as Savior) to their just condemnation.

Fifth, God decreed simultaneously in eternity past both election and predestination for believers only.  Under this point we include the election of true Israel in ROM 9:6, the election of the humanity of Christ in the dispensation of the Hypostatic union, and the election of the Church as the body of Christ and Royal family of God.

Election is not a violation of free will, but the expression of the sovereignty of God, Who wills the highest and best for every believer in Jesus Christ.  Notice 2PE 1:10 "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and election; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you."

We would not have to make certain about God's calling on our lives and His election if it did not take into account our free will.  Election is the expression of the sovereignty of God willing His highest and best for every believer in Jesus Christ but we have to respond willfully to His plan for our life in order to receive His highest and best.  Election is the prehistoric, pre-creative recognition by God of those who would believe in Christ, EPH 1:4-6 and then what He desired to provide and give to them.  It is the expression of the sovereign will of God in eternity past; predestination is the provision of the sovereign will of God for you so that we might execute the Pre-Designed Plan of God.  As a part of election, there is also the decree to provide a portfolio of invisible assets for every believer by depositing in escrow greater blessings for time and eternity for every believer, EPH 1:2-4.

In eternity past, God the Father, as the grantor deposited into an escrow, greater blessings for every Church age believer.  The first thing that God ever did for us was providing the means of glorifying Him. 

Everything in the divine decrees ultimately will bring glory to God.

God's purpose will stand!

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