Decrees of God

September 25, 2006

Definition of God’s Decree

The decrees of God have been established in eternity past and have reference to God’s sovereign control over every realm and over all events. The decrees are reflected in Ephesians 1:11 in that He “works all things after the counsel of His will.” Question 7 of the Westminster Shorter Confession states: “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.” Ultimately, there are only two options. Either God is sovereign and has absolute control over the world and universe or God does not have sovereign control, and the world and universe carry on in defiance of His holy will. Of course, the former is true; the world does not operate by chance. God has absolute control. Yet it must also be affirmed that man is responsible for sinful actions. God is never the author of sin nor does His sovereignty eliminate man’s responsibility.

The London Confession of Baptist Faith, Chapter III

 Of God’s DecreeI.  God hath decreed in Himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever come to pass;[1] yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein;[2] nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established;[3] in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.[4] 1.  Isa. 46:10; Eph. 1:11; Heb. 6:17; Rom. 9:15, 182.  James 1:13; I John 1:53.  Acts 4:27-28; John 19:114.  Num. 23:19; Eph. 1:3-5 II.  Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions,[5] yet hath He not decreed anything, because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.[6] 5.  Acts 15:186.  Rom. 9:11, 13, 16, 18 III.  By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ,[7] to the praise of His glorious grace;[8] others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice.[9] 7.  I Tim. 5:21; Matt. 25:348.  Eph. 1:5-69.  Rom. 9:22-23; Jude 1:4 IV.  These angels and men thus predestined and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.[10] 10. II Tim. 2:19; John 13:18 V.  Those of mankind that are predestined to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love,[11]without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him thereunto.[12] 11. Eph. 1:4, 9, 11; Rom. 8:30; II Tim. 1:9; I Thess. 5:912. Rom. 9:13, 16; Eph. 2:5, 12 VI.  As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so He hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto;[13] wherefore they who are elect, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,[14] are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified,[15] and kept by His power through faith unto salvation;[16] neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.[17] 13. I Peter 1:2; II Thess. 2:1314. I Thess. 5:9-1015. Rom. 8:30; II Thess. 2:1316. I Peter 1:517. John 10:26; 17:9; 6:64 VII.  The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election;[18] so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise,[19]reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility,[20]diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.[21] 18. I Thess. 1:4-5; II Peter 1:1019. Eph. 1:6; Rom. 11:3320. Rom. 11:5-6, 20

21. Luke 10:20



September 25, 2006



…. Do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for men to see…


The New Testament views Christian obedience as the practice of “good deeds” (works). Christians are to be “rich in good deeds” (1Ti_6:18; cf. Mat_5:16; Eph_2:10; 2Ti_3:17; Tit_2:7, Tit_2:14; Tit_3:8, Tit_3:14). A good deed is one done (a) according to the right standard (God’s revealed will, i.e., his moral law); (b) from a right motive (the love to God and others that marks the regenerate heart); (c) with a right purpose (pleasing and glorifying God, honoring Christ, advancing his kingdom, and benefiting one’s neighbor).Legalism is a distortion of obedience that can never produce truly good works. Its first fault is that it skews motive and purpose, seeing good deeds as essentially ways to earn more of God’s favor than one has at the moment. Its second fault is arrogance. Belief that one’s labor earns God’s favor begets contempt for those who do not labor in the same way. Its third fault is lovelessness in that its self-advancing purpose squeezes humble kindness and creative compassion out of the heart.In the New Testament we meet both Pharisaic and Judaizing legalism. The Pharisees thought that their status as children of Abraham made God’s pleasure in them possible, and that their formalized daily law-keeping, down to minutest details, would make it actual. The Judaizers viewed Gentile evangelism as a form of proselytizing for Judaism; they believed that the Gentile believer in Christ must go on to become a Jew by circumcision and observance of the festal calendar and ritual law, and that thus he would gain increased favor with God. Jesus attacked the Pharisees; Paul, the Judaizers.The Pharisees were formalists, focusing entirely on the externals of action, disregarding motives and purposes, and reducing life to mechanical rule-keeping. They thought themselves faithful law-keepers although (a) they majored in minors, neglecting what matters most (Mat_23:23-24); (b) their casuistry negated the law’s spirit and aim (Mat_15:3-9; Mat_23:16-24); (c) they treated traditions of practice as part of God’s authoritative law, thus binding consciences where God had left them free (Mark 2:16-3:6; Mar_7:1-8); (d) they were hypocrites at heart, angling for man’s approval all the time (Luk_20:45-47; Mat_6:1-8; Mat_23:2-7). Jesus was very sharp with them on these points.In Galatians, Paul condemns the Judaizers’ “Christ-plus” message as obscuring and indeed denying the all-sufficiency of the grace revealed in Jesus (Gal_3:1-3; Gal_4:21; Gal_5:2-6). In Colossians, he conducts a similar polemic against a similar “Christ-plus” formula for “fullness” (i.e., spiritual completion: Col. 2:8-23). Any “plus” hat requires us to take action in order to add to what Christ has given us is a reversion to legalism and, in truth, an insult to Christ.So far, then, from enriching our relationship with God, as it seeks to do, legalism in all its forms does the opposite. It puts that relationship in jeopardy and, by stopping us focusing on Christ, it starves our souls while feeding our pride. Legalistic religion in all its forms should be avoided like the plague.

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September 22, 2006

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