Question 7 – the decrees of God

QUESTION 7. What are the decrees of God?
ANSWER: The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

The decrees of God

What characterises the Decrees of God?
Wisdom Eph 3:9-11 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  Eph 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: one other there….? Eternal
Effectual Is 46:9 I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Unchangable Job 23:13 But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. Why so? Because of he is faithful and true.
Acts 4:27-28. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
Unconditional Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
What else from this verse? Comprehensive: which also means that it includes contingent events… Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.
Berkhov says: ‘its [God’s decrees] execution does not depend on any action of man but even renders such action certain’. (p42 Summary of Christian Doctrine)

2 Kings 13:14 Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. 15 And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows. 16 And he said to the king of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands. 17 And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them. 18 And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed. 19 And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.


Doctrine of Decrees of God are inconsistent with the moral freedom of man

God has decreed that man is responsible for his actions. We may not be able to reconcile these

It makes people lazy in seeking salvation

Man does not know what God has decreed concerning him: Deut 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
God has not only decreed our eternal end but also the means. Therefore the end is the result of the decreed means, it should encourage not dissuade us to seek God – TODAY!

It makes God the author of sin

“The decree merely makes God the author of free moral beings, who are themselves the authors of sin. Sin is made certain by the decree, but God does not Himself produce it by His direct action… it is a mystery which we cannot fully solve.” (Berkhov p43)

Psalm 33:11. The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
Acts 15:18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
Ephesians 1:11. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
Ephesians 2:10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Romans 9:22-23. What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.
Romans 11:33. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

How are the means and the ends decreed?

God uses means to accomplish his decrees:

2Thes2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

Can you give examples of how God’s decreed means and his decreed ends are connected?

Fisher: From the preservation of Paul, and those who were with him in the ship; God had decreed to preserve them all, Acts 27:24; yet lawful means were to be used; the shipmen must not get leave to flee out of the ship, otherwise the rest cannot be saved, as Paul tells the centurion and the soldiers, ver. 31.

How is are the decrees of God concerning the sending of Christ into the world to save us revealed in the Bible?

Is 7:14  Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
This prophesy was a sign to Ahaz and others of his time because it implied the survival of the Jews so that Messiah could come.
Jews and others object that ‘virgin’ here should be translated as ‘young maiden’ – i.e. not a miraculous birth. But Matthew Poole asserts:
1. This word is always used for a virgin in the Old Testament
2. Why would it be a remarkable sign, as was required of Ahaz to ask for if it were simply a woman that was meant and not also someone who conceived miraculously?
3. That ‘shall call’ signifies the naming of the child by the mother, he having no human father whose duty this would have been.

Immanuel – God and man meeting in one person! John 1:14 ‘And the Word was made flesh’ – text is not bound to refer to the personal name but his nature and office.

A glimpse into the eternal counsels of God

The Father and the Spirit involved in appointing Christ

Is 42 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
5 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
6 I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

Is 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;



Notes from the Doctrine Class of 9th December 2012, led by Jeff Gilbert. Reading: Romans 3:21-6
Personal aspect of wrath of God woven into the Old testament.
Expiation is there instead of propitiation in the new testament modern translations. This morning’s sermon was clear on this. How do we consider our own sin as angering God. We expect God to forgive without understanding that God is grieved. Sin is committed in the shadows and we cut off ourselves from God so it is no wonder if we are ignorant of God’s wrath. Consequences of sin seen in Revelation. We should fear offending him, yet if he is angry at our sin it must be serious. Serious enough to be called ‘trampling the blood under foot’.
Hell itself is the outworking of God’s wrath. Jesus teaches it explicitly.
Rom 3:21 unless hilasterion we are,
Heb 2:17 reconciliation is there but actually propitiation is closer. NIV has margin note admitting as much. Dogged unwillingness to look this word full on.
The propitiation 1Jn 2:1-2
1 Jn 4:10 so it is there.
These are fully personal words. We must remember that. Saved to sin no more.
God cannot be placated in the way of the pagans. God is not capricious. He never over-reacts, yet he is opposed to it, how can you ignore it?
The opposite of love is not wrath but hate. He is angry with anything that mars his relation to the perfection of his creation.  Why keep on doing that?! Wrath and love are closely related.
So this hostility has to be placated
Since we are in a theistic cosmos we cannot exclude him from this work.
We do not find ‘expiation’ in Christian literature until our own day.
Our generation does not like this wrath, sign of the times.
“‘The doctrine of the propitiation is precisely this that God loved the objects of His wrath so much that He gave His own Son to the end that He by His blood should make provision for the removal of this wrath… (John Murray, The Atonement, p.15)'”

Armininan Scripture ‘proofs’ for unlimited atonement

Reading was John 10:11-18
Affirmation 2010.
Point 3 of the doctrines of grace. 1618 synod which met 154 times. 
Limited atonement is controversial. 
Today we looked at Scripture used by Arminianism 
Verses that could imply that Christ died for the ‘world’ include:
John 6:51
John 3:16 
1John 2:1-2 
The Great Commission actually does include this phrase in that meaning, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel’
But if everyone is saved then it runs against scripture. God is seen to fail in his purpose which is John 3:17. 
John 6:33 give life to the world but not everyone is saved – which some Arminians have been willing to go as far as saying that God’s purposes can be frustrated. 
Is 46:9-10 Ps 33:11 
If Christ died for everyone it makes a non-sense of these verses.
Rom 8:32
Rom 5:7-11
If Christ has died for us, God will surely go on to give us the ‘lesser’ things, causing us to persevere in the faith.
Lots of uses of ‘world’ where it does not mean ‘all’
John 7:1-5, 7
1 John 5:19
John 12:17-19
John 14:18-19
Hardly anywhere does world mean everyone who has lived and will ever live.
Many of these armininian proof texts are in John and it is worth remembering that he was an apostle to the Jews – 
1 John 2:1-2 trying to expand the perspective of the Jews to embrace the Gentiles. 
‘All’ men does not mean saviour of all men, the phrase ‘especially those who believe’ clearly indicates a qualification in ‘all’
John Owen gives 500 instances where all men does not mean all men. 
Matt 10:21-22
Matt 26:31-34
Mark 1:35-37
Christ is said to die for those who fall away!
1 Cor 8:11 Yes ‘fall’, but not fall forever. ‘Perish’ here is like an inner guilt of being removed from God because of fouling our conscience. 
2 Pet 2:1 
Hebrews 10:28-29 the Lord that bought them is God the Father. But this is not referring to the ransom of the cross. This is an opposite to the phrase about being sold into their enemies’ hands. They are blessed by being in the confines of the church but never converted. All acknowledge this is hard to interpret and we would not want to base our doctrine on that kind of verse.
Do these verses address the saved but some are not all saved in the end. But ‘charity of judgement’ is a familiar tactic used to address the whole body of a new testament church, knowing that some were actually not saved amongst them