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Grace Bible Church

Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries

The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.

For the week ending 01/20/02

The Doctrine of Divine Decrees. Part 2.

  We are continuing in our study of the Divine Decrees and we have noted that this is a fantastic doctrine to learn and an important one to understand because we need to understand the "purpose and plan" of God.
Point 1.  Was a definition: The decrees of God 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 includes angelic history as well as human history.
Point 2 dealt with the five characteristics of the divine decrees.
1.  All-comprehensive which means that they are go together and are held together perfectly.
2.  Eternal which means that God knew all of the decrees at all times and He is not gaining in knowledge.  
3.  Perfect  God is perfect; therefore, His decrees are perfect.  
4.  Unchangeable and certain.  Nothing can possibly occur to necessitate a change.  
5.  The free choice of God in eternity past. The decrees are the free choice of God in eternity past. 

This led us to our third point: The logical order of the divine decrees or what is also known as Lapsarianism.
Lapsarianism is a theological subject dealing with the logical order of the Divine Decrees.
a. Create all mankind
b. Permit the fall
c. Provide salvation
d. Leave the reprobate to their just condemnation.
e. Election and predestinate believers only.
The plan of God has to do with God gathering into one all-inclusive plan, all the objects of salvation, whether in heaven or on earth, in Christ, EPH 1:9-10 "He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth."
It is also called the mysterious purpose or plan which had been hidden for ages in God, which it now made known to His saints, EPH 3:4-11.
The Divine Decrees are based upon God being glorified and bringing glory to Himself. Everything in the divine decrees is designed to bring glory to God. One of the principles under this doctrine is that God has placed all mankind under a complete indictment of total depravity.  This complete indictment is the fact that He has placed all of us under total depravity and under the category of condemnation so that He may extend His mercy to all.  ROM 11:32 says "For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all."
Many Theologians who do teach the Divine Decrees miss out on the importance of understanding the place of Grace and mercy in the decrees.  The divine decrees are designed to bring glory to God. Remember in EXO 33:18-19, when Moses said, "I pray Thee, show me Your glory!  the Lord said, I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of Jehovah before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy."

Mercy is grace action, grace is free and in grace, God works and mankind benefits.  Grace comes from God in the form of gifts but it returns to God in the form of glory.  The Divine Decrees are designed to bring glory to God and it is the grace and mercy of God that does so.
God concludes all members of the human race under the category of disobedience so that He might have mercy upon all. Mercy is, in effect, a byproduct of the essence of God in action toward the human race in history.  This is why Romans chapter 11 verse 32 tells us that God has actually banded all under unbelief so that he may have mercy upon all.  This brings glory to God throughout human history as designed by the Divine Decrees. 
God did all of this so that the only policy of God toward men would be grace and mercy. That is why there is a direct relationship between the mercy of God and the glory of God and between the grace of God and glory of God.  We have been created for His glory and He has given us all the grace and mercy that we would ever need.  God is not our enemy, He loves us, He is our Father and He is on our side, ROM 8:31 "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?"
Once these principles are understood, life is exciting, meaningful and filled with purpose.
Grace and mercy is God's policy toward us, therefore, what is our responsibility toward Him when we understand these exciting principles?
Look at ROM 12:1-2 "I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
Why should we present our bodies a living sacrifice?  1CO 6:20 "For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body."

Once we recognize that in eternity past God decreed for us to be treated with grace and mercy, then we are able to operate in that principle that grace comes from God in the form of gifts but it returns to God in the form of glory. God's plan throughout all the ages is that He might be glorified by the grace that He dispenses to undeserving creatures. That is why God did what He did in ROM 11:32, God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.

There can be no demonstration of mercy until there is someone in the condition that requires mercy and therefore God not only decreed to create all mankind and then to permit the fall of all mankind but then in grace He provided salvation for all mankind so that all mankind could be the beneficiaries of mercy, and He permitted the fall because without a fall there is no condemnation for all mankind and condemnation must precede salvation.  Without the fall of man and the resulting condemnation, there can be no demonstration of the mercy of God to the human race.

In order to demonstrate His mercy to the Angels in the angelic conflict, God allowed the fall of man so that mankind would be under the sentence of condemnation and depravity and therefore, in grace, God gives to all mankind His son and if mankind receives the Son, then they are a recipient of the mercy of God.
After salvation, God still gives as His grace and mercy.  The principle still applies, COL 2:6 "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,"
Grace comes from God in the form of gifts, the Problem Solving Devices, Portfolio of Invisible Assets etc.  This grace returns to God in the form of glory from the winner believer only living in God's plan performing Divine good,EPH 2:10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
After salvation we are still in a state of hopelessness even though we have eternal salvation and therefore the biggest problem of all is solved and that is the fact that we were destined to the lake of fire if we did not believe in Jesus Christ...but we still need God.  We still need the manifestation of the grace of God and when we are recipients of the grace of God, we are objects of His mercy.  After salvation, we are still in the devil's world and we are still helpless and hopeless to cope with the adversities that we face, the trials, the difficulties the tragedies, especially those that come from spiritual combat. 
We are hopeless and helpless in ourselves to confront the things that must assail us in this life and therefore God has given us mercy and the mercy's now in the spiritual skills, the problem solving devices, the invisible assets.  The problems that we cannot solve or resolve, we learn to cope with by living in faith-rest.  This is 1CO 10:13 is all about,"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it."
So we have received mercy to handle any problem or difficulty in life.  Paul said in 2CO 4:1 "Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not get discouraged."
We are beneficiaries of the post-salvation mercy of God because He has given us a spiritual life in which we can overcome every possible problem that we would ever face in life.  God hasn't only given us mercy for our unsaved condition but mercy for our saved condition.
The greatest things that God has given to us after salvation is the 10 Problem Solving Devices, the ultimate one being Occupation with the person of Christ. 
Occupation with Jesus Christ is the greatest provision of the mercy of God in our post-salvation lives.  It gives us the ability to pass the greatest test of our spiritual lives.
In ROM 11:33 "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!"
Notice the things that he considers to be deep, ROM 11:33 "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!"
Paul is speaking of the fact that in eternity past God made a decree that included the entire human race under condemnation and total depravity so that he could have mercy on all. 
The mercy of God is a very vital aspect of the Divine decrees.  
Always remember that ROM 5:16 tells us that we are condemned through no demerit of our own so that God could justify us through no merit of our own.  It was all because of the disobedience of one man, Adam.  This is a manifestation of the mercy of God.  In His grace, He gave us His Son and then in His mercy, He saved us.  This was all to bring glory to God.
The divine decrees point to the mercy of God, the fall of Adam and the fact that God did something about sin.  God decreed that we would all be under the sweeping sentence of condemnation through no fault of our own because he had a plan to bring us under the sentence of justification through no merit of our own...under the obedience of one man, Jesus Christ.

Point Five in our doctrine of the Divine Decrees:  To What Extent is the Human Will Free?
The Scriptures teach that there are restraints upon human volition and in reality that we really do not have freedom as such, but what we have is a choice.  We are given options to choose but not really freedom in the sense of God's freedom.
God can do whatsoever He pleases.  Our options are limited.
People are not free from God and free from Satan, they are in one of the two kingdoms.
EPH 2:1-2 "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience."
The word spirit is the Greek noun pneumatos, used as an adjective, and of course it has many meanings, here it refers to a spirit higher than man but lower than God.  The word can also refer to demon influence, and in some cases even demon possession, it also refers to the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of anyone.
It refers to the fact that the unbeliever is born in bondage to sin and the kingdom of darkness.  This is why in JOH 8:44, the Lord said to a group of unbelievers, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father."
We are also told that in COL 1:13 that we have been "delivered from the domain [kingdom] of darkness, and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son."
Then on the other hand we have such passages as the ones we noted in detail in PHI 1:6 "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who has begun in you an absolute good work will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus."
Or PHI 2:13 "for it is God [the Holy Spirit] who is at work in you, both to will [give you motivation] and to work [He gives you the ability to execute] above and beyond His good pleasure."
In reality there is an external power and a system of domination contending for our soul.  This means that the entire human race, saved and unsaved, believers and unbelievers, are not really free from a superior influence.

There are only two kingdoms to choose between or to live in.
1. The kingdom of God created by God.
2. The kingdom of darkness developed by Satan.
All Satan can do is take the flawless creation that God creates and pervert it into evil.  The entire human race, saved and unsaved, believers and unbelievers, are not free from a superior influence.  The mystery is that fact that this influence, as potent as it is, is totally unrecognized within the realm of human experience.
1JO 5:19 "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one."
REV 12:9 "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world;"

The mystery is that fact that this influence, as potent as it is, is totally unrecognized by those in the cage.
For example, the Jews living during our Lord's day thought they were free.  Not only were they in bondage to Roman dictatorship but they were also in bondage to their father Satan.  In Joh 8:31-37 Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him,  "If you abide in My word, {then} you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered Him, We are Abraham's offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone [that's a lie right there]; how is it that You say, You shall become free? Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham's offspring; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you."
They were the natural seed of Abraham but not the spiritual seed.  The spiritual seed is in view in ROM 11:26  and thus all Israel will be saved.  Both seeds are mentioned in ROM 9:6b "For they are not all Israel [true spiritual seed] who are descended from Israel [natural seed];"
For example, Abraham's son Isaac continued Abraham's seed and two sons were born at the same time through one woman.
One was just the natural seed of Abraham, the other was both the natural seed and spiritual seed.
This is why ROM 9:13 states Just as it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
So our Lord goes on, JOH 8:38-44 "I speak the things which I have seen with {My} Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from {your} father [Satan]. They answered and said to Him, Abraham is our father. Jesus  said to them, If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham. For what does the Scripture say? And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.  But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do.  You are doing the deeds of your father. They said to Him, We were not born of fornication [virgin birth]; we have one Father,{even} God.  Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.  Why do you not understand what I am saying? {It is} because you cannot hear My word.  You are of {your} father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own {nature;} for he is a liar, and the father of lies."
They were in bondage and they didn't even know it. 
The Bible also teaches that God influences the unbeliever to some extent as well as Satan and his power influencing believers to some extent.
The influence of God upon the unbeliever must be exercised if they are even going to turn to Him in saving faith. 
In JOH 6:44, the Lord said that "No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him."
This is the principle of JOH 1:12-13, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, {even} to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
There is also a lot of confusion at times caused by the statements that God hinders spiritual vision and hardens hearts.
But He does.
Concerning this principle MAT 13:10-15  "And the disciples came and said to Him, Why do You speak to them in parables? And He answered and said to them, To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him shall {more} be given, and he shall have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled [ISA 6:8-10], which says, You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; For the heart of this people has become dull, And with their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes Lest [a better translation would be otherwise] they should see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I should heal them."
That has been a problem passage for individuals who do not understand the balance of the Divine Decrees.  

ROM 9:17 says "For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, (a reference to Pharaoh Amenhotep the Second) For this very purpose I raised you up, or I have caused you to continue in history."
Here is a person who was anti-Israel to the core, a person who was very evil.  Yet the Lord said, "I have caused you to continue in history."
Whenever we find ourselves in danger and disaster, whether personal, national, or international, remember that these things are permitted to continue in history that the power of God may be demonstrated.
From that comes two things.
1. The evangelism of the unbeliever.
2. The spiritual growth of the believer.
Many times in human history God has demonstrated His power by means of some evil ruler. Many times in human history God has demonstrated his power by means of some evil people. Many times God has demonstrated His power by means of believers who are negative toward Bible doctrine.
This is another way of saying, "God uses the wrath of man to praise Him" PSA 76:10.
By means of the hardness of Pharaoh's heart, God is going to demonstrate His power in such a way that it will have an effect on two entire generations.
And as we have noted, also an effect on the entire world.
Here however, the Exodus generation and the generation that followed is in view.
ROM 9:17-18 "For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.  So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires."
By means of the hardness of Pharaoh's heart, God demonstrated His power in such a way that it effected two entire generations.
Remember that the doctrine of heathenism teaches that if anyone in any part of the world, no matter how geographically isolated, at the point of God consciousness expresses in his soul a desire to know God, and a desire to have a relationship with God, then God will provide, some way and some how, that information.
Whatever it takes, the person will have the opportunity to hear the Gospel and to respond.
Pharaoh Amenhotep II, in the Eighteenth dynasty, controlled all of the area of the Middle East. He was a very powerful king of Egypt which at that time dominated all the Middle East and most of North Africa.
In that area there was a tremendous number of people who were positive at the point of God consciousness.
Instead of God using the Internet, or satellite radio or television, He used the hardness of one man's heart to get the Gospel message and His power throughout this region.
This is a perfect illustration of the divine decrees bringing glory to God even through man's negative volition.
God can use many types of people to accomplish His purpose.
The Lord may allow some wicked person in our life to do things spitefully to us for the purpose of making us stronger spiritually.
The Lord will even use the wickedness of people and angels to bring about His plan and purpose, JOB 21:30 "For the wicked is reserved for the day of calamity; they will be led forth at the day of fury."
The Lord will actually use the evil and the wickedness of man to reveal His glory to the world.
In LUK 7:47, God used the wickedness of legalism to magnify His grace and mercy, "For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little."
Inevitably the Lord will be glorified even when men perform the greatest evil which they are capable of performing,2CO 13:8 "For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth."
One of the most fascinating things that will ever come to us when we learn the divine decrees is to see history strictly from the divine viewpoint.  We have a taste of it from the study of Scripture.

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