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The Tree of Life
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The Doctrine of The Divine Decrees. Part 3.
The Doctrine of Divine Decrees.
Point 1. Definition and Description.
By decrees is meant the eternal plan by which God has rendered certain all of the events of the universe (angelic history, human history) past, present, and future. So the decrees of God are the chosen and adopted plan of God for all of His works.
When we deal with a subject like this, it requires a tremendous amount of concentration. 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.
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.”
PRO 16:4, “The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.”
2TI 1:8-9, Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,
The decrees are the all‑inclusive will and purpose of God concerning all that ever was or ever will be, which originates wholly within Himself. Because of the fact that God is omniscient, He knew everything that would ever happen in one moment of time.
So, the decrees are the all‑inclusive will and purpose of God concerning all that ever was or ever will be, which originates wholly within Himself and which He Himself alone must have objectively designed 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.
By accommodation to creatures of time and space subject to subdivisions reaching out to such minute details as the falling of the sparrow, all decrees were simultaneous, not given by stages. Therefore it is most unfortunate that our finite mind must understand these things by stages rather than as one divine decree.
Because of the finite mental limitations of man, we must perceive them by logical and chronological progression.
The human mind, when thinking properly, thinks according to logic and chronology. 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 of all from the standpoint of the word efficacious which means that which is directly wrought by God from His sovereignty.
Secondly, from the standpoint of permissiveness, permissive means that which is appointed by God to be accomplished by secondary causes or by the free will and action of agents (the free will of man).
So we need to note two words here, efficacious and permissive.
Efficacious refers to the sovereign will of God.
Permissive refers to the free will of man or the volition of mankind.
From this comes that 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.
A. The decrees are all‑comprehensive.
That means that not the slightest uncertainty could 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. Everything you think, why you think it, and the environment in which you think it, was all known to God in eternity past. This also says everything in life is a chain of cause and effect events.
God is perfect and therefore He gave you life at the exact time that He knew would be the best time and environment for you personally. He picked your parents! He picked the color of your skin! He picked your gender! He picked your environment!
He even picked what genes you would have!
B. 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 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.
C. 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 does not always appear that way as they relate 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.”
D. 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.
E. Characteristic, the decrees are the free choice of God in eternity past. This is the most important point to understand, one which many theologians do not understand. God is not bound to follow any necessary path. Having decreed, however, He is bound by His infinite faithfulness and truth to complete what He has begun.
This includes completing the work He has begun in you!
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.
The “free choice of God” is very important because 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, remember that 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 that we exist.
However, 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.
ROM 11:36, For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
So the decrees of God are the adopted and chosen plan of God for all His works. Even the plan to crucify TLJC 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.
Did God the Father make them do it? Did He violate their free will and make them crucify His Son and then send them to eternal damnation?
No, He did not, in fact, He could not!
That would make Him unjust and God cannot be anything but just and righteous.
LUK 22:21-22, “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Me on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”
Now the question arises: Did God make Judas betray TLJC and make Herod and Pontius Pilate order His execution or did they do it on their own? I think that the last half of this verse answers that question, woe to that man or that person by whom He is betrayed.
Now, it is true that we noted in one of our definitions on the decrees that 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.
However, foreordaining something does not mean to violate human volition. Foreordination in theology is the belief that God has set all events before they happen but not to the extent that He must destroy human freedom, an important part of being created in His image.
Bear in mind those five characteristics as we approach all sorts of things, like the potter and the clay.
– All‑comprehensive
– Eternal
– Perfect
– Unchangeable and certain.
– The free choice of God in eternity past.
EPH 2:10, For we are His production [we have the provision of the invisible assets which we have been given as well as our election and predestination], having been created in Christ Jesus [the formation of the Royal family of God and a new spiritual species resulting in positional sanctification by which every believer becomes the heir of God and has equal privileges under predestination]
It’s amazing of how the divine decrees tells us of so many of the wonderful things that God has done for us billions and billions of years ago. What a fantastic concept of the grace of God when you think of it in billions and billions of years ago.
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