At Tabernacle Cardiff we are planning some changes to the Sunday afternoon in order to fully support the Sunday School outreach. We are planning to pause the Doctrine Class on Sunday afternoon until we feel we have enough people to support the Sunday School, Doctrine Class and Capel y Rhath. There is not only a need for Sunday School teachers, but also for building up a team to transport children to and from the Sunday School.
You may be disappointed with a pause in the Doctrine Class, but our elders felt that with the need to support the Sunday School it would be wise avoid overstretching our resources. The Doctrine Class has been a blessing over these years and we are grateful to the LORD for that and to all those who helped in taking and making the Doctrine Class. We hope to soon be in a position to support all three afternoon meetings once again.
Reflecting on the Doctrine Class since 2011, we decided on a few changes for 2013:
- Taking a ‘Biblical Timeline/Bible Books’ rather than treating an aspect or theme of systematic theology (which we have been doing for 18 months now and which we can return to again).
- Unifying the topic, i.e. each week a different person taking us through the topic will be asked to cover a given portion of the material. Previously each person has led their own theme. Our textbook and theme will be Hendriksen’s Survey of the Bible (see under ‘H’ in the Church Library).
- Tighter scheduling of topics – no carrying forward if we do not finish a topic in ‘one sitting’.
- Wider group of people to share the duty of leading the group through that week’s topic. We are delighted that the Pastor has agreed to lead the meeting on a couple of occasions (see ‘Rota’ link on right for details) although we are all keen to support the Welsh language work, Capel y Rhath which meets at the same time.
- To develop our ‘date-consciousness’ with any part of God’s Word (Hendrikson, p43). This ‘historical perspective is absolutely essential to the mastery of the meaning of Scripture’, he says.
- To highlight the ‘one, central theme which, like a golden thread, runs through all…’ (p83), namely, ‘the central revelation of the Triune God in Christ’ (p55).
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;
Reading was John 10:11-18
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:
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.
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
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.
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
Psalm 37:1-3, 23-27
Revival is bringing back to life. Versailles palace and Fontaineblue, from the morning sermon, the former being likened to heaven and the latter, His summer palace for a visitation. God is seen to be who He is far more clearly. God is glorified 1Kings 8:60
What can we do while waiting for revival? Similar to asking what is prayer for if it is God that saves. Even now ‘ordinary’ people and weeks of their lives are full of wonderful God’s works.
Elvet Lewis : to wait and to work.
Revival is God’s work, it remains for us to be faithful.
Sorting out our sin
Do we keep secret sins? Are my motives ever right? Are we saved? Examine ourselves yet without losing heart. He is faithful to forgive but we may not trust. Admitting there is a problem is a good first step. 2Cor10:5 desire for better is from the Lord.
Growth leads to greater sense of sin. God is well able to show us more of our sin. Pride is a huge thing, continually dissatisfied with ourselves but satisfied with God. ‘who am I!?’, asked David.
1. Setting our affections on Christ
Consider what he has done for us. Goto Calvary.
Preaching the gospel keeps Christians at the foot of the cross. Put him first. Thankfulness. The heart is engaged – what excites us. Better is he that keeps his own than that takes a city. 1 Corinthians 9:27 – deliberate. Colossians 3: What we are in Christ – realise our new standing in him. What is on my mind the most? Hebrews 12:1
My plans. Pause. Do I want to do that more? Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
Seeking each other’s good
Will you see Mr Wesley in heaven?
What we don’t do – we too often drag each other down. Quenching the spirit. Encouraging one another. Esteem all others better than ourselves. Pray for them. Soul surgery is the pastor’s prerogative. You may start presuming what others think. Not pandering to wrong but we can make judgements.
Straightening out our lives
The more we see of Him… We should be those who keep the cup clean so we can be ready to be filled. Cutting river beds to aid the flow. Trimming the sails to prepare for the wind. Digging ditches. Putting myself in the way of blessing. Ps37:3-4
Propitiation part 2
The apostolic preaching of the cross is more extensive. Problem in making the term simple. Many technical words in various spheres. Not many examples of this word
Expiation is making wrongs right – Expiation of a single or crime. Impersonal process to nullify the effect of sin. Nothing there about the wrath of God. God is removed from the equation. With propitiation God is angry with sin and that anger must be dealt with.
Wrath in the old testament. God is love, so the wrath is just affected by that of the heathen around them. People reject the concept of God condemning sinners to hell. Wrath is just a case of cause and effect. Disaster follows sin. Where is the holiness of God?!
OT prophets saw God as personal and punishment effected it personally. John Owen’s definition is helpful.
As for the septuagint, we cannot do justice to the person of God as loving but also implacibly opposed to sin, the sin which destroys us. Love and anger are not in opposition to each other. The world view of sin is only against love divine. Sin opposes any higher view of love. God wants us to be saved from the consequences and power of sin. God is angry, as a parent is angry with an erring child doing something harmful to themselves even in the face of clear instruction. 10 commandments. Gal 5:13
Sin is personal. We must keep short accounts with God. The more godly our fathers were the more aware of their sin. (Will this endure in heaven?) How seriously do we take sin? Consequences will ensue. Psalm 51: sin is against God primarily and he will be angry. Judgement upon us today.
Setting oneself apart for God, not just apart from the world.