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Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries


The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 08/26/07
The Doctrine of the Divine Decrees. Part 2.
We are now ready for our third point in our study of the Divine Decrees: The principle of the pre-creation reality and Lapsarianism.
The Bible presents to us the principle of a pre-creation reality, and we get some printouts that are found in the doctrine of the Divine Decrees that are in ROM 8:26-37. ROM 8:26 “And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;”
The moment we get tired of the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. Even if we don't know how to pray or what to pray for, it doesn't matter because He does our praying in and for us.
ROM 8:27And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” He knows us far better than we know ourselves, and keeps us and protects us through His omnipotence. We are here to fulfill 1PE 1:4-5, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
ROM 8:28-29, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;”
God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son. The Son stands first in the line of the very humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him.
ROM 8:30 “and whom He predestined [PPOG], these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
After God made that decision of what His children should be like, He followed it up by calling people by name. After He called them by name, He set them on a solid basis with Himself. Then, after getting them established, He stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what He had begun.
ROM 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” With God on our side like this, how can we lose?
ROM 8:32-33, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;”
If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and sending His own Son, is there anything else He wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? Verse 33 says in effect, “Who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen ones?”
ROM 8:34 “who is the one who condemns? [Satan, carnal self-righteous believers] Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us, is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.
ROM 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
There is no way that anyone or anything is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us. Not trouble, hard times, hatred, hunger, homelessness, not bullying threats, backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture. ROM 8:36-39, Just as it is written, “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The omniscience of God therefore has facts about the believer in the computer of Divine Decrees. So we get a printout, which we have studied in detail, called election. We get another printout, which we have studied called foreknowledge; this is a part of the doctrine of the Perfect Plan of God (PPOG). Then we have, of course, another printout, which comes from foreordination, which we simply call predestination. We have another printout, which we have also studied in great detail, called justification. We have many printouts from the believer, and none of these printouts have anything to do with the unbeliever. The unbeliever is never said to be elected, foreknown, or predestined. He is not predestined to heaven, nor is he predestined to hell; he’s not predestined to anything. The unbeliever is never said to be justified, or sanctified, for these are printouts for the believer only in the computer of Divine Decrees. There are many printouts concerning the unbeliever, for example, a part of the printouts for the unbeliever is found in JOH 16:7-15, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear {them} now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose {it} to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose {it} to you.”
So for the unbeliever, as a part of the Divine Decrees, we have condemnation, reprobation, judgment and so on, all peculiar to the unbeliever. This is only one of many categories of printout information from the Divine Decrees, and therefore the Divine Decrees contain all of the facts and all of the information of history.
So again, there is another principle that comes out of this doctrine which is the principle known as pre-creation reality and Lapsarianism. Now as the decrees were simultaneously known by the omniscience of God, they were also simultaneously decreed by God. To appreciate the Divine Decrees, one must understand the nature of omniscience as a part of Divine essence. Of all the decrees, five are related to the purpose of God in election. Therefore, they are called in theology, the five elective decrees. From this comes the concept of lapsarianism. The decrees must be in a logical order.
Lapsarianism is a theological subject dealing with the logical order of the Divine Decrees. This is the subject of the doctrine of lapsarianism which is a practical, as well as a phenomenal, doctrine. Lapsarianism provides the logical environment as well as the logical order for the five elective decrees. Furthermore, it also provides the place for the insertion of escrow blessings for every believer in the portfolio of invisible assets. Remember that all decrees occurred simultaneously in the mind of God. We have to sort them out logically to explain the invisible assets and the relationship to the PPOG for each one of us as Church-age believers. By logical order is meant 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 human understanding.
So, the term lapsarianism refers to the doctrine of Divine Decrees from the standpoint that man is a fallen being or creature.
The terms Sub-lapsarianism, Infra-lapsarianism, Supra-lapsarianism, come from biology and here’s what they mean: The prefix supra- indicates a rank above, the prefix sub- indicates a rank below, and the prefix infra- indicates a rank below sub- (therefore 2 ranks below). Now the whole key is to understand that the word Lapsarianism comes from the Latin word for fall! The whole issue is this: In God’s order of the elective decrees, where does Election rank in relation to Permitting the Fall? Supra-lapsarianism means that election is placed above permitting the Fall. Sub-lapsarianism means that electionis placed below permitting the Fall. Infra-lapsarianism means that election is placed two ranks below permitting the Fall.
There are five schools of interpretation in the order and arrangement of these five elective decrees: 1) The first is called Supra-lapsarianism which is what we call hyper-Calvinism or Theodore Beza's theory. It begins with the decree to elect some to be saved (a false position) and to reprobate all others (a false position, double predestination and heresy). Remember predestination is a word that applies to believers only. 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.” ROM 8:29-30, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined {to become} conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” 1CO 2:7 “but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden {wisdom,} which God predestined before the ages to our glory;” EPH 1:5 “He predestined us [believers only] to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,” Please notice that in all these verses and in every verse in the Bible, when predestination is mentioned, it refers to believers only. No one has ever been predestined to Hell!
People go to what we call Hell, because of their own negative volition (JOH 3:18, 36).
Predestination is a print-out from the sovereign will of God and applies to believers only. This is why 2PE 3:9 says, “The Lord is not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Now, if this is true, and it is, then God is not going to predestinate anyone to Hell since He is not willing for anyone to perish. 1TI 2:3-4, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
So, Supra-lapsarianism or hyper-Calvinism begins with the decree to elect some to be saved (a false position) and to reprobate all others. The second decree under supra-lapsarianism or hyper-Calvinism is that God only decreed to provide salvation for the elect, which is the basis for the limited atonement. This is blasphemous for reasons which we have noted many times, especially because of inherited sin. We were all born physically alive but spiritually dead. 1CO 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” The third decree under supra-lapsarianism is the decree to create man, both elect and non-elect. The fourth decree is to permit the fall. The fifth, the decree to save the elect. Now, there's a problem with Supra-lapsarianism. God the Father in eternity past could not deposit greater blessings in escrow and provide for us our very own portfolio of invisible assets for a non-entity. That's what you have under supra-lapsarianism or hyper-Calvinism, a provision for a non-entity! The problem with this view, Beza's view, is that it makes God elect a non-entity on the one hand, and on the other hand, it makes God unfair. For example, in their first decree they have the decree to elect some to be saved and to reprobate all others. Now, how can that be the first decree, elect who? Reprobate who? There has to be a decree to create before there can be a decree to choose from the created. Hyper-Calvinism or Supra-lapsarianism says salvation really begins, not when you believe in Christ, but in eternity past when you were elected. The problem with this is that it places election and limited atonement before the fall instead of after the fall. It begins by assuming that a certain number of men will be elected and reprobated which ignores the justice and fairness of God. So you cannot elect until you create, and you cannot elect until you permit the fall. Hence the decree of election and limited atonement has no real object. In supra-lapsarianism, man is an abstract concept of non-existence; therefore, any Divine determination concerning mankind is dealing with something that doesn't exist. Therefore, this is the blasphemy of ignoring selection before election. Hyper-Calvinism or supra-lapsarianism basically says that the only reason you ever believed in Christ was because you were elected to do so. So by putting election first in the decrees, supra-lapsarianism would assume that non-entities exist from which to elect and reject. But something must be created before it can be selected. Also, this heresy says God is unfair because He selected some people to be saved and the rest are lost, no matter what they do or think. This is one of the main problems; it ignores the part played by human volition in human history. The Bible indicates that the elect and non-elect are taken out of an existing group of beings (JOH 15:16-19). The logical order is that man must be created, then the fall must be permitted, and then he must be saved by grace through faith before he can be said to be elected. Also, this verse states that men are the objects of grace after the fall, not before.
The mistake of many Calvinists is that they don't understand that the sovereignty of God and the free will of man coexist in human history by divine decree.
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