The Doctrine of The Divine Decree

ephesians-2-vs-8-9

Grace Bible Church

The decree of God refers to His eternal (always existed), Holy (perfect integrity), wise (the application of Omniscience to creation), and sovereign purpose. This means that God simultaneously comprehended all things that ever were or ever would be. He comprehended every event, their causes and their interaction with other events, including every decision we would ever make. The Omniscience of God expresses the source of these decrees. It also expresses the attributes of God in terms of Divine will in human history. God knew simultaneously in eternity past everything that would ever happen in human history (the thoughts, actions, and decisions of every person). Because our understanding is limited, we perceive these things only in partial aspects and in logical relations that comes from Scripture. Therefore, we classify the decrees as being plural, but in reality there is only one decree.

This is a very technical study, but it is very important to understand as it is a reminder that before man existed, God had us all personally in mind. This principle is discussed in EPH 1:3-6, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him In love. He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
EPH 1:11 “also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”

The decree of God is His Eternal and Immutable will with regard to all future events, and the precise manner and order of their occurrence. This is the eternal plan by which God has rendered certain, all of the events of the universe. This includes both the angelic and human history, past, present, and future. The decrees of God are the chosen and adopted plan of God for all of His works. They are His eternal purpose according to the counsels of His own will whereby, for His own glory, He has foreordained all that will ever come 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 totally within Himself. God is Omniscient, and in one moment of time He knew everything that would ever happen. Our life hangs by a very fine thread for His glory, and His satisfaction, and this should cause all believers to take their calling and their election seriously. The decrees were actually simultaneous, not in stages. Due to the finite understanding of man, we must perceive them in a logical and chronological progression. All decrees are efficacious meaning 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, from the standpoint of the word efficacious which means that which is directly brought about by God from His Sovereignty. Secondly, from the standpoint of permissiveness which 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). From this comes the concept that the sovereignty of God and the free will of man co-exist in human history by Divine decree.

The Five characteristics of the Divine decrees.

The decrees are comprehensive, meaning that not even the slightest uncertainty could exist as to one of the smallest 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, therefore everything we think, why we think it, and the environment in which we think it, were all known to God in eternity past, everything in life is a chain of cause and effect events. This is one of the meanings behind such passages as LUK 12:6-7, “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? And {yet} not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.” It may not seem to us that our life has been blended perfectly together by God, but in heaven we will understand that it was! God is perfect and therefore He gave us life at the exact time that He knew would be the best time, and the best environment for each of us. He picked our parents, the color of our skin and our gender. God has always known everything a person does or will do, and God has decreed for all these things to exist.

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. God is perfect; therefore, His decrees are perfect. They are not perfect in content, because they include evil, sin, failure, etc. But God always knew everything that would ever happen. His is a perfect system of comprehension. It does not always appear that way as events relate to us because we have a tendency to be relative, 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. The decrees are unchangeable and they are certain. Nothing can occur that would ever necessitate a change, God is never caught not knowing. God has never had to make any changes or any adjustments in the Divine decrees. The decrees are the free choice of God in eternity past. This is an important point to understand. God is not bound to follow any necessary path, however, having decreed, He is bound by His infinite faithfulness, and truth to complete what He has begun, including completing the work He has begun in us. PHI 1:6 “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

God, from His own sovereign volition, invented free will in two categories of creatures: Angels and Mankind. Both categories can choose for or against God. However, 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 our own 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 to be wicked. It simply means that ultimately God will be glorified by either the positive or negative volition of His creatures. ROM 11:36 “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” The decrees of God are the adopted and chosen plan of God for all His works. Even the plan to crucify The Lord Jesus Christ was a part of the Divine decrees. ACT 2:23 “This {Man} [Jesus Christ], delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put {Him} to death.” 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. God the Father did not make them do it, nor did He violate their free will, and make them crucify His Son. That would make Him unjust and God cannot be anything but just and righteous. So again, the decrees of God are His eternal purpose according to the counsels of His own will whereby for His own glory He has foreordained all that will come to pass. However, foreordaining something does not mean the violation of human volition.

The Divine decrees tells us of so many wonderful things that God has done for us in eternity past. God actually knew each believer that would believe in Christ, and knowing that He provided this fantastic equal privilege concept under predestination. We have been created in Christ Jesus for good works, or good achievements when we have momentum inside the Pre-designed Plan of God (PPOG) as a part of equal privilege of election. God prepared this in advance, in eternity past, for every Church-age believer. We as believers should walk by means of our invisible assets. When we do we will understand such passages as ROM 6:4 “So we too might walk in newness of life.” EPH 4:1 “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” God has programmed into the decrees all that will ever come to pass in the function of the human race in history. In the decrees, the sovereignty of God, and free will of man co-exist in human history.

There is another principle that comes out of this doctrine: The principle of the pre-creation reality. The decrees were simultaneously known by the Omniscience of God, and 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. In theology these five are known as the five elective decrees, and from this comes the concept of Lapsarianism.

Lapsarianism is a Theological term, it is the subject of dealing with the logical order of the Divine decrees. Lapsarianism provides the logical environment, as well as the logical order, for the five elective decrees. It also provides the place for the insertion of the escrow blessings for every believer in their portfolio of invisible assets. Remember that all decrees occurred simultaneously in the mind of God, but 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. Logical order means 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 in human understanding. The term Lapsarianism refers to the doctrine of Divine decrees from the standpoint that man is a fallen being or creature. There are five schools of interpretation in the order and arrangement of these five elective decrees.

The first one is Supra-lapsarianism. This is often referred to as Hyper-Calvinism or Beza’s theory. This theory states that first there was the decree to elect some to be saved (a false position) and to reprobate all others. This is double predestination and it is a heresy because predestination is a word that applies to believers only. 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,” EPH 1:11 “also we [believers] have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”

No one has ever been predestined to Hell or eternal damnation. People go to Hell only because of their own negative volition. JOH 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” The phrase “has not believed” is a perf/act/ind of the Greek verb pisteuon, and in the active voice it means that he has refused to believe in Jesus Christ (over and over agin). JOH 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” There is no such thing as double predestination. Predestination is a printout from the sovereign will of God, and it applies to believers only, 2PE 3:9 The Lord is not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. God is not going to predestine anyone to Hell since He is not willing for anyone to perish! Under the concept of Supra-lapsarianism, the second decree is to provide salvation for the elect, the basis for Limited atonement. Limited atonement is also blasphemous! Supra-lapsarianism teaches that next there was the decree to create man, both elect and non-elect. Following that are the decrees to permit the fall and to save the elect. The problem with Supra-lapsarianism is that God the Father in eternity past could not deposit greater blessings in escrow, and provide for us our very own portfolio of invisible assets if we were a non-entity. Still this is the view of Hyper-Calvinism and many fundamentalist churches hold to it.

Hyper-Calvinism is actually the work of a Burgundian Theologian and Noble who lived from 1519-1605 named Theodore Beza. He was the Rector of a Theological Seminary at the University of Geneva. The problem with Beza’s view is that it makes God elect a non-entity on the one hand, and on the other hand, makes God unfair. For example, in their doctrine they list the first decree as that which elects some to be saved and to reprobate all others. The question is how that can be the first decree? Who would this decree elect and whom would it reprobate? 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 that salvation really begins, not when you believe in Christ, but rather in eternity past when you were elected. The problem with this is that it places election before the fall instead of after it. It begins by assuming that a certain number will be elected and a certain number reprobated which would totally ignore the Justice of God. God cannot elect until He creates, this makes the decree of election refer to a non-entity (because creation doesn’t occur until after their election). Logically, God would not elect until He created, and He would not elect until He permitted the fall. Hence the decree of election and limited atonement has no real object. Here, 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.

This teaching says that the only reason anyone ever believed in Christ was because they were elected to do so. By putting election first in the decrees would assume that non-entities exist from which to elect and reject. But something must be created before it can be selected. This heresy also would mean God is unfair because he selected some people to be saved and the rest are lost, no matter what they do or think from their own free will. This would ignore the part played by the human volition in human history. The Bible indicates that the elect and non-elect are taken out of an existing group of beings, JOH 15:19 “I have chosen elected you out of the world.” JOH 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and {that} your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.” The first verb here for chosen is the Greek word eklegomai and the middle voice tells us that God did not choose us based upon His volition only, but also based upon our response to His initiation. JOH 15:17-19, “This I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before {it hated} you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Here the same verb is used, eklegomai and again the middle voice tells us that God did not choose us based upon His volition only, but also based upon our response to His initiation. This means our Lord did not elect us out of eternity past, but rather out of time. Hence, the logical order is that first man must be created, then the fall must be permitted, and then man must be saved by grace through faith before he can be elected.

So, elect is a term that applies to believers only. There cannot be the elect until there are believers. For believers to exist there must be the creation, followed by the fall, and then salvation must be offered to all. The mistake of many Calvinists is that they don’t understand that the sovereignty of God, and the free will of man co-exist in human history by Divine decree. Calvin pioneered the doctrine of double predestination, and this gave Beza, one of his professors, a chance to put election before creation. Double predestination means the unbeliever is predestined to Hell, and the believer is predestined to Heave, this opens the door for an arbitrary election that is blasphemous. The main problem is neither Calvin nor Beza could relate the Divine creation of the free will of man to the prehistoric angelic conflict. God is glorified when the free will of man executes the sovereign will of God, but both Calvin and Beza rejected the freedom of human volition and self-determination. Many Calvinists say that there is a double predestination meaning that believers are predestined to go to heaven, and unbelievers are predestined to go to hell. This is called the Hegelian fallacy, for it was Hegel who said, “for every thesis there must be an antithesis and when you put them together you have synthesis.” However, in the Bible, both the thesis and the antithesis are true only if both are stated. Therefore, it cannot be assumed, it must be stated! The unbeliever goes to Hell or the last judgment only because of unbelief, only through his own volition, not because of the determination of the sovereignty of God. God does not elect or predestine unbelievers. Remember, God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to a change of mind about Christ.

So the fact that people do perish means that the sovereignty of God is not involved. This is why all personal sins of the human race were personally imputed by God the Father to our Lord on the Cross and judged there, JOH 3:18 “He that believes on Him is not judged [last judgment], but he that does not believe is judged already because he has not believed in the name of the uniquely born Son of God. Faith is the issue in judgment and non-judgment alike, and faith is the function of positive, human, non-meritorious volition. This adds up to the fact that unbelievers are not predestined to Hell, but they go to Hell by an act of their own volition (unbelief in the Lord Jesus Christ, over and over again). Predestination originates from the sovereignty of God while the condemnation of man originates from his own negative volition. The elect are chosen to justification and sanctification. EPH 1:4-6, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world [in the Divine decrees], that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
1PE 1:1-2, “To those who are elected according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit.” In both of these passages the elect are chosen to justification and sanctification. Therefore, they must have already fallen, and to fall they had to be created in the first place with the same volition as angels had. Logically, there cannot be election before the decree to create and to permit the fall. Even though God the Father knew billions of years ago who would believe and who would not, man cannot be saved until he believes, and cannot believe until there is a fall that necessitates faith in Christ.

Sin is also an issue here, many Calvinist’s ignore the fact that the Divine decrees contain personal sins, and that all personal sins in human history were programmed into the Divine decrees and judged in Christ on the Cross at one time. The phrase “The wages of sin is death,” is not a reference to our personal sins, but to the imputation of Adam’s original sin to the genetically formed old sin nature at birth (ROM 5:12). We are born physically alive but spiritually dead. This is so that anyone who dies before reaching the age of accountability is automatically saved, because condemnation must precede salvation, and the sooner man is condemned; the sooner man can be saved. In the court of Heaven, ignorance is never an excuse for sin. Volition wanted to do it and did it. The woman in the fall was legitimately ignorant, but that was no excuse. Ignorance is no excuse for sin, crime, or failure, because human volition is involved whether the issue is known or not. This dramatizes the fact that human volition not only exists, but human volition, when it comes to sinning, opposes the sovereign will of God for our life. Furthermore, we do not sin by decree, that is blasphemous, but we sin through the function of our own free will. The decree in eternity past merely recognizes the function of human volition in sinning. The Omniscience of God merely programmed into the Divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include our sins and failures as well as our successes. Unlimited atonement is the demonstration that the sovereignty of God desires that no one should perish. Yet human volition can and does reject the saving work of Christ on the Cross. Therefore, the alternative is the Lake of Fire.

The correct order of the five elective decrees as follows;

  1. God decreed the creation of all mankind with free will in the status of perfection for two reasons: To resolve the prehistoric angelic conflict, and to bring many sons into glory. “Being brought into glory” in HEB 2:10, means there is a Christian way of life, a way to glorify God after salvation.
  2. God decreed to permit the fall of mankind through the function of his own determination, his own volition as the extension of the angelic conflict into human history. Angels had a fall; therefore man must have a fall to resolve the conflict. This duplicates Satan’s fall and the subsequent existence of fallen angels.

  3. God decreed to provide eternal salvation for all mankind under the doctrine of unlimited atonement. God is fair and provides for all. God doesn’t arbitrarily assign creatures to Hell. Unlimited atonement means that all sins in human history were imputed to Jesus Christ on the cross and judged, so that Christ is the issue and not sins (2CO 5:14-15, 19; 1TI 2:6; 1TI 4:10; TIT 2:11; HEB 2:9; 2PE 2:1; 1JO 2:2).

  4. God decreed to leave the reprobate (those who reject Christ as Savior) to their just condemnation.

  5. God decreed simultaneously in eternity past both election and predestination for believers only.

Under this point we have the decree for historical election including the election of true Israel (ROM 9:6), the election of the humanity of Christ in the dispensation of the Hypostatic Union, and the election of the Church as the body of Christ and Royal family of God. There is the election that is the expression of the sovereignty of God who wills the highest and best for every believer in Jesus Christ.

Election is the prehistoric, pre-creative recognition by God of those who would believe in Christ through their own volition (EPH 1:4-6). Election is the expression of the sovereign will of God in eternity past. Predestination is the provision of the Sovereign will of God for you so that you might execute the PPOG. There is also the decree to provide a portfolio of invisible assets for every believer by depositing in escrow greater blessings for time and eternity for every believer. In eternity past, God the Father as the grantor deposited into escrow, greater blessings for every Church age believer (EPH 1:3, 1PE 1:3-4). The first thing that God ever did for us is the means of glorifying Him by providing these escrow blessings. God decreed to apply salvation to everyone who believes in Christ. The decree also includes God consciousness, where people become aware of the existence of God. Positive volition at God consciousness means that individuals will have the means of hearing the Gospel regardless of geographical isolation or problems of linguistic barriers. The decree includes common and efficacious grace which provides election in eternity past for those who will believe in Christ in time.

The distinction between the decree, and the execution of that decree in our thinking means that one logically follows the other. However, the execution itself is not a part of the decree. The decree occurred in eternity past, but the execution occurs in human history. The false views of Lapsarianism fail to recognize this.

We need to note briefly the four schools of thought concerning Lapsarianism and the order of the Divine decrees. There are four schools of interpretation in the order and arrangement of these five elective decrees. The first one is called Supra-lapsarianism or what is called hyper-Calvinism or Beza’s theory, which we are now familiar with. The first decree they teach is to elect some to be saved (a false position) and to reprobate all others (this is double predestination and heresy.) The second decree is to provide salvation for the elect, which is the basis for limited atonement. Thirdly, they teach that there was the decree to create man, both elect and non-elect.
Fourth, is the decree to permit the fall. Fifth, is the decree to save the elect or apply salvation to the elect in time. The problem with Supra-lapsarianism is two-fold; the decree to elect is placed first on their list, and the teaching of the limited atonement.

The next school of thought is called Sub-lapsarianism, which is moderate Calvinism. Here the order is: First, create all mankind, followed by the decree to permit the fall. This is followed by the decree to elect those who believe in Christ, and to leave in just condemnation those who do not believe in Christ. This is sometimes stated as the decree to elect some out of fallen mankind and leave the others to their misery. Finally is the decree to provide salvation for the elect (limited atonement).

Then there is Infra-lapsarianism. This is a form of moderate Calvinism, and here the order is very close to the correct Biblical view. First, the decree to create all mankind which is followed by the decree to permit the fall. Then comes the decree to provide salvation for all mankind (unlimited atonement) and then the decree to elect some from among fallen mankind, and to leave others in their sin (those who will not believe in Christ). Finally, to save the elect through faith in Christ or to apply salvation to those who believe.

Finally there is Arminian Lapsarianism, represented by Richard Watson. Here the order of the decrees starts with the decree to create all mankind. Then the decree to permit the fall which is followed by providing unlimited atonement. Then comes their view of salvation by foreseen human virtue, faith and obedience; hence the blasphemy of salvation by works. Finally, there is election as an act of God in time, which makes election synonymous with experiential sanctification, which is not correct because it ignores the portfolio of invisible assets. Here the order is identical with that of the infra-lapsarian view, with one exception: The Arminian view of election, which they believe follows the decree to provide salvation, is dependent on foreseen human virtue, faith, and obedience. Whereas the Infra-lapsarian view of election invests it with sovereign choice apart from any foreseen human merit whatsoever. In mixing truth with error, this view is a distortion and therefore a heresy.

The differences in the four schools of thought regarding Lapsarianism can be seen in the table below:

Supra-lapsarianism

Sub-lapsarianism

Infra-lapsarianism

Armanian Lapsarianism
1

Elect some

Create

Create

Create
2

Provide Salvation

Permit Fall

Permit Fall

Permit Fall
3

Create

Elect

Provide Salvation

Provide Salvation
4

Permit Fall

Provide Salvation

Elect

Salvation by Works
5

Save the Elect

Save the Elect

Save the Elect

Election in time

Sub-lapsarians place the decree to elect to follow the decree to permit the fall. In general, the Sub-lapsarian order is a rebuttal of the Supra-lapsarian order. The distinction between the Infra-lapsarian and the Sub-lapsarians is that the Infra-lapsarian places the decree to provide salvation before the decree to elect, while Sub-lapsarian places the decree to elect before the decree to provide salvation. The Infra-lapsarian order, which places the decree to provide salvation before the decree to elect, allows for the doctrine of the unlimited atonement, whereas the Sub-lapsarian order favors the theory of a limited atonement.

It is true that the doctrine of a limited atonement is one of the five points of Calvinism, but not all who are rightfully classified as Calvinists accept the doctrine of unlimited atonement! It is equally true that all Arminians believe in the unlimited atonement, but to hold the doctrine of unlimited atonement does not necessarily constitute one an Arminian.

Even though this subject is technical and complex it is important because we need to understand the purpose and plan of God. The plan of God has to do with God gathering into one all-inclusive plan, all the objects of salvation, whether in heaven or on earth, in Christ (EPH 1:9-10). It is also called the mysterious purpose or plan which had been hidden for ages in God, which it now made known to His saints, EPH 3:4-11, “And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose, which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,”

The order of the Divine decrees is based upon God being glorified, and therefore all His attributes bringing glory to himself! Remember one of the definitions: 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. Everything in the Divine decrees ultimately will bring glory to God. Whether elect angels or fallen angels, whether believers or unbelievers, God’s purpose will stand!

The distinctions between what God permits and what He desires.

Distinction should be made between God’s laws and God’s decrees. For example, laws regulate human conduct, while decrees are God’s plan and action in eternity past. Laws can be broken, but the decrees of God can never be broken. There is also the distinction between God’s desires in the decrees, like election, and the rejection of God’s desires. 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. God’s desire is for “all men” to be saved, that’s why we believe in the unlimited atonement. God knew of all the rejections as well as the acceptance. A person may reject Christ as Savior, but God still willed His highest and best for that person! This is why believers suffer loss of rewards! They didn’t earn rewards and then lose them, they were elected to have them, but they rejected that aspect of God’s election. 1CO 3:15 “If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss [escrow blessings for eternity]; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.”
2Pe 1:10 “Be motivated even more to make certain about His calling and election;” God’s desire is to bless us, and He has, however our desires can cause us to reject His blessings! God knows all our negative acts, but He doesn’t interfere with our free will, this would prevent the angelic conflict from ever being settled. For example, while sin and death are displeasing to God, and incompatible with His Divine nature, they nevertheless belong to the decrees under the category of the fall of man. Many things that occur are results of angelic or human free will acting contrary to God’s desires. He nevertheless willed that these things would take place, thus making our volition truly free. So, God’s decree rendered all things certain to occur, and He decided that they would exist. In doing so, He did not interfere with angelic or human free will. In fact, He decreed that we would have free will! In giving us volition, He also decreed that our decisions, whatever they might be, would certainly take place, even those that are contrary to His desires. So, the decrees include a lot of things which are not God’s desires, because the decrees include all things we think, say or do. Sin, human good, and evil are not the desires of God, but are in the decrees because they are performed by our free will. God desires His perfect will and sovereignty, but both angelic and human creatures use their God-given free will and self-determination to violate the desires of God. So, all of God’s desires are a part of the Divine decrees, but we can reject those desires for our personal life! So the decrees contain both the will of God and desires of God. The decrees are simply the all-inclusive will of God. God does not desire to cast His creatures into the Lake of Fire forever, but it is so decreed under the printout of retribution for all who express negative volition at God-consciousness and at Gospel hearing. God does not desire the discipline of believers, but it is decreed for all carnality, apostasy and reversionism.

Unlimited atonement is the demonstration that the sovereignty of God desires that no one should perish. Yet human volition can and does reject the saving work of Christ. Therefore, the alternative is the Lake of fire. We all have a printout with our name on it, expressing our positive or negative volition toward God’s sovereign will for our lives. God’s eternal and sovereign will for every believer is expressed in the Divine decrees, having printouts such as election, glorification, justification, and predestination. Therefore, our life and the decisions that we would make were read by God, but not altered. We have privacy and can make good or bad decisions. So the Divine decrees contain all data or facts regarding the function of the free will of man in history. All logistical grace, and those who would be blessed and their blessings, were fed into the Divine decrees. God knew every problem, heartache, and situation you would face long before you ever existed.

So, there are distinctions between what God permits, and what He desires. There is the permission of sin. Calvinistic theologians have made a distinction in the Divine decrees by dividing them into two combinations, the decrees which are efficacious, and those which are permissive. The efficacious decrees are those which determine the affairs of this life directly by physical causes, such as in Job 28: 24-27, “For He looks to the ends of the earth, And sees everything under the heavens. When He imparted weight to the wind, And meted out the waters by measure, When He set a limit for the rain, and a course for the thunderbolt, Then He saw it and declared it; He established it and also searched it out.” Efficacious decrees are also those that determine the affairs of this life directly by spiritual forces. PHI 2:13 “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Eph 2:8-10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Permissive decrees allow those things that are evil and sinful. The term permissive means that God does not actively promote the execution of the decrees even though they have been determined by Him to take place. This is in contrast to His efficacious and Divine purpose which works to the end that men will and do His good pleasure, by way of permission, God, in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways (ACT 14:16).
This is also why He gave the rebellious children of Israel their own evil desires (PSA 78:29; 106:15). In His permissive will, God does not hinder the course of action which His creatures pursue, but He does determine to regulate and control the boundaries, and the results of such actions. God’s permissive will is His will to permit whatsoever He thinks fit to permit or not to hinder; while what He wills or determines to permit, he also intends to regulate, and not to behold as an unconcerned spectator. The Divine permission of evil in the human race also extends beyond the one sin of Adam. For example, it is written that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to the end that a demonstration of His divine power might be fully displayed. This does not mean that God reached down in the heart of Pharaoh and made his heart hard. It means that God brought in circumstances and situations that He knew would cause Pharaoh to harden his heart! That’s why we read three times in the book of Exodus that Pharaoh hardened his own heart! EXO 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said. EXO 8:32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go. Exo 9:34, But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart by bringing in situations that he knew would cause Pharaoh to reject the warnings of God. By that demonstration the whole multitude of the Egyptians came to know something of Jehovah, EXO 14:4 “Thus I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.”
Jos 2:10, Rahab said to the two spies, “For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt,”

As a revelation concerning God’s attitude toward sin, the fact is obvious that God commanded Adam not to sin, and yet, unless Adam did sin, there would be no need for the Savior who was decreed in eternity past before Adam to be slain (REV 13:8). Likewise, God said to King Saul that if he had kept the commandments given to him, his house would have been established forever (1SA 13:13). To the same end it may be perceived that, in the controversy between God and Satan as recorded in the first two chapters of Job, Satan admits that he can bring no testing upon Job apart from the permission of God; and it is stated that God gave Satan this permission. Even the experience of an individual who sins is suggestive. After the sin has been committed, the one who sins could say: God is to be blamed. He could have prevented me from sinning, but He did not. That, however, the sinner does not say, since there is within him a consciousness that he alone is responsible. All this suggests the obvious fact that the mere avoidance of sin is not always the primary issue. With all these situations in view, the intelligent mind refuses to predicate sin to God either directly or indirectly. It may be concluded, then, that sin is in the universe by the permission of God, who hates it perfectly, and who, being sovereign, had power to keep it from manifesting, if He had chosen to do so. That He did not hinder the manifestation of sin, demonstrates that He, being what He is, must have a purpose in view other than the averting of sin. Here as nowhere else in the affairs of the universe, the end justifies the means.

One of the principles we have noted concerning the doctrine of the Divine decrees is that both sin and the Cross, were a part of the Divine decrees. Sin is the permissive will of God; the Cross, the directive will. Sin is neutralized by the Cross, and this is an example of how God permits man’s free will to oppose Him yet still maintains His own integrity and wins in the end. Sin, human good, and evil are not the desires of God, but are in the decrees because they are performed by our free will. God desires His perfect will and sovereignty, but both angelic and human creatures use their God-given free will and self-determination to violate the desires of God. So, all of God’s desires are a part of the Divine decrees, but we can reject those desires for our personal life! God does not desire to cast His creatures into the Lake of Fire forever, but it is so decreed for those who reject The Lord Jesus Christ. God does not desire the discipline of believers, but it is decreed for all carnality, apostasy and reverionism. So, human volition can and does reject the saving work of Christ, and the Christian way of life. Of course, there’s also the principle of sin which God does not desire to exist, but permits it under the category of the fall of man!

Once we really understand what the purpose and plan of God is all about we should be motivated to never put anything ahead of Bible doctrine. When we have wrong priorities we have wrong motivation. When pleasure, business, social life or family is first, doctrine is not! When we put anything before Bible doctrine we are putting those things before the Lord Jesus Christ! MAR 12:28-29, And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
Bible doctrine is the thinking of our Lord! Somewhere down the line believers who are negative toward doctrine will pay dearly, because they are going to need doctrine. They are going to have a situation that requires problem-solving capabilities, and they will not have them. By the way that’s the way of escape in 1CO 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” So, they missed the doctrinal teaching, and they conclude the devil is after them and that’s a lie! The devil doesn’t attack those who are already on His side! Or some cry out the Lord is testing me, and that’s arrogance. The Lord only tests those who are faithful to His word! Sadly, most believers lack enough metabolized doctrine to be faithful to the word! They are simply miserable because of their own bad decisions and nothing else. All of their misery, unhappiness, and inability to cope are simply the result of making bad decisions, which is basically negative volition toward doctrine. Most Christians today want to feel emotion! They don’t want any challenge! Understanding the Divine decrees implies that God has a perfect rational policy and plan for your life, and that should motivate you if you respect God!

Now, as a revelation concerning God’s attitude toward sin, the fact is obvious that God commanded Adam not to sin, and yet, unless Adam did sin, there would be no need for the Savior who was decreed to die in eternity past (ACT 2:23). Once again we see that the will of God will be accomplished even through man’s negative volition! Would we ever realize the tremendous impact of God’s grace, mercy, love, forgiveness, patience, and kindness, if mankind never fell? This is not to say that God needed sin to reveal His glory, however, He decreed for sin to exist from the free will of His creatures, and then He turned the curse into a blessing! ROM 5:18-20, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Nothing is more important than understanding God’s plan for your life! This is because understanding must precede execution. No one can execute God’s plan for their life until first of all they understand what that plan is and what the purpose behind the plan is!

To what extent is the human will free?

The Scriptures teach that there are restraints upon human volition. For example, concerning unbelievers it is declared that they, being children of disobedience, are energized by Satan in EPH 2:1-2, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” In Joh 8:44, the Lord said to a group of unbelievers, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.” We are also told that in COL 1:13 that we have been delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son. Then we read in PHI 1:6 “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” In PHI 2:13 “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” The entire human race, saved and unsaved, believers and unbelievers, are not really free from a superior influence. The mystery is the fact that this influence, as potent as it is, is totally unrecognized within the range of human experience. The Bible even plainly tells us that God influences the unbeliever to some extent, and that Satan and his power influences believers. The influence of God upon the unbeliever must be exercised if they are even going to turn to Him in saving faith. The Lord declared “No man can come to Me, except the Father which has sent Me draw him” (JOH 6:44).

Much confusion is caused by the statements that God, at times, hinders spiritual vision and hardens hearts. And He does! Concerning Israel He said in ISA 6:8-9, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? Then I said, Here am I. Send me! And He said, Go, and tell this people: Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand. Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Lest they see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” When we find ourselves in jeopardy, whether personal, national, or international, these things are permitted to continue in history that the power of God may be demonstrated. Many times in human history God has demonstrated His power by means of some evil ruler, some evil people, or believers who are negative toward Bible doctrine. Of course, this is simply another way of saying that God uses the wrath of man to praise Him (PSA 76:10). ROM 9:17-18 says, For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth. So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”
By means of the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart, God demonstrated His power in such a way that it effected two entire generations. Remember that the doctrine of heathenism teaches that if anyone in any part of the world, no matter how geographically isolated, at the point of God consciousness expresses in his soul a desire to know God, to have a relationship with God, then God will provide, in some way, that information. That person will have the opportunity to hear the gospel, and to respond to it.

Apparently there was such a situation in the time of Pharaoh Amenhotep the second. He, in the eighteenth dynasty, controlled all of the area of the Middle East. He was a very powerful king. He was the king of Egypt and dominated all the Middle East and most of North Africa. Now, in that area there were a tremendous number of people who were positive at the point of God consciousness. Instead of God using satellite radio, or television, He used the hardness of one man’s heart to get the Gospel message, and his power, throughout this region. This is a perfect illustration of the Divine decrees bringing glory to God even through man’s negative volition. Our human limitations restrict our ability to know and understand God. Think of the kind of people can God use to accomplish His purpose? The Lord will allow some wicked person in our life to do things spitefully to us for the purpose of making us stronger spiritually. The Lord will even use the wickedness of people and angels to bring his plan and purpose to pass, JOB 21:30 “For the wicked is reserved for the day of calamity; they will be led forth at the day of fury.” Remember the woman caught in adultery, and the wickedness of the self-righteous Pharisees. God used that wickedness of self-righteousness to magnify His grace. We saw it in GEN 50:20, with the evil and jealousy of Joseph’s brothers. Inevitably the Lord will be glorified even when men perform the greatest evil, which they are capable of performing, 2CO 13:8 “For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.”

One of the most fascinating things that will ever come to us, when we learn the Divine decrees, is to see history strictly from Divine viewpoint. We have a taste of it from the study of Scripture. Many times God uses the wrath of man to praise Him. The reason is to protect the human race for the perpetuation of human history. Many times we look at something and we say that this is a terrible tragedy, all of those people being killed, but we do not see things as God sees. He has a part in the blinding and influencing of the wicked! God does not create the evil heart, but rather brings out into overt action that which is within the heart to accomplish His divine purpose! Remember that the will of the creature is a creation of God, and in relation to it God uses human volition to accomplish His plans and purpose! He made the creature’s will as an instrument by which He might accomplish his sovereign purpose and it is inconceivable that it should ever obstruct His purpose. Here we come to a question that has engaged the attention of theologians in every age. If God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass then is human liberty taken away?

The divine decree exerts no force or influences upon our will, and while it insures the future of events, it leaves them to be accomplished in the exercise of our liberty. While it determines that some things should be brought to pass necessarily, it determines that other things should be brought to pass freely. God has decreed, not only that men should act, but also that they should act freely, and agreeably to their rational nature. He determined the act, but men being free agents, had the opportunity to act differently. It is God’s will alone which is to be considered and not the means by which it has been determined. If God foreordained certain actions, and placed men in such circumstances that the actions would certainly take place, men are still responsible because they acted voluntarily and are responsible for the actions, which are their own. Liberty does not consist in the power of acting or not acting, but in acting from choice. The choice is determined by something in the mind itself, or by something external influencing the mind; but whatever is the cause, the choice makes the action free, and the agent is accountable. Therefore, it is possible to reconcile the freedom of the will with absolute decrees. By this, human actions appear to be as necessary as the motions of matter according to the laws of gravitation and attraction; and man seems to be a machine, conscious of his movements, and consenting to them, but impelled by something different from himself. The tie that connects the Divine decrees and human liberty is invisible. Such knowledge is too wonderful for us to totally understand. If every thing in religion were level to the comprehension of reason, there would be no room for faith. It is better to believe humbly, than to reason presumptuously which leads to the denial of the immutability of the divine counsels, or the freedom of the human will. The program of the ages, the unrestrained, sovereign purpose of God is seen in the ordering of the succession of the ages. That God has a program of the ages is disclosed in many passages (DEU 30:1-10; DAN 2:31-45;7:1-28; 9:24-27; HOS 3:4,5; MAT 23:37-25:46; ACT 15:13-18; ROM 11:13-29; 2TH 2:1-12; REV 2:1-22:31).

The doctrine of Providence may be extended to embrace nearly all that enters into both naturalistic and Biblical theism. It falls naturally into a fourfold division:
Preventative (GEN 20:6; PSA 19:13): God uses parents, governments, laws, customs, public opinion, His Word, His Spirit, and conscience as a means to a providential impediment to evil. The Spirit, the Word, and prayer are available for the Christian.
Permissive, which embraces that which God does not restrain (DEU 8:2; 2CH 32:31; HOS 4:17; ROM 1:24,28).
Directive, by which action God guides the ways of men, and often outside their consciousness of that guidance (GEN 50:20; Ps 76:10; ISA 10:5; Acts 4:28).
Determinative, by which action of God He decides, and executes, all things after the counsel of His own will. Though many objectives are disclosed, the Supreme purpose of God in creation seems to be the demonstration of His grace. The manifestation of Divine grace as it is in Christ (Titus 2:11); and as it will be displayed by the redeemed in glory (EPH 2:7), is not only within the Divine decree, but is a major feature of that decree. An example of something that God willed to exist is you! You are a responsible, rational, freewill individual who is alive today. You and your freedom, etc. were decreed billions of years ago.

God’s decree rendered all things as certain to occur; He decided that they would exist. In doing so, He did not interfere with angelic or human free will. In giving us volition, He also decreed that our decisions, whatever they might be, would certainly take place, even those that are contrary to His desires. Being Omniscient, He knew ahead of time what we would decide, and He not only decreed that those decisions would exist, but He also decreed that exact manner, consistent with His integrity, in which He would handle our decisions. The decree of God is the sovereign choice of the Divine will (His attribute of sovereignty) and mentality (His attribute of Omniscience) by which all things are brought into being and controlled, made subject to His pleasure, and producing His glorification (ISA 46:10; EPH 1:9).

Anything the Members of the Trinity decide to originate is decided with these concepts in mind: 1) It is for Their pleasure. We do a variety of things for our pleasure or entertainment, but God’s pleasure is, of course, somewhat broader in scope. His perfect happiness is part of His infinite character, so His pleasure is not impulsive or frivolous. Nevertheless He snapped His fingers and billions upon billions of light years of space instantly came into being. Then He created creatures with free will – beautiful, powerful creatures called angels. Their history is largely undisclosed to us, but eventually, from their own free decisions, some of the creatures got out of line – the Fall of Satan and the revolt that began the angelic conflict. God always knew that some of the angels would revolt, therefore, in the same instant that He decreed to create the universe and the angels, He also decreed that at a certain point in time He would create another type of creature. They would be like the angels in that they too would have free will, and would be designed to share God’s happiness. But they would also become the demonstration of the fullness of God’s essence to those angels who had impugned God’s character. So, for God’s pleasure, he created Adam. Now, long after the Fall of Adam, God’s pleasure is our adjustment to the justice of God. Salvation, spirituality, and spiritual maturity free God to bless us.

  1. What the Trinity decides is also for Their glory. God has always existed in perfect glory; anything He does reflects His glory, and results in His glorification. God does not depend on us for His pleasure or for His glory; He enjoyed these things in eternity past when no one else existed. He is expressing them in us and toward us: we are here as part of God’s pleasure and glory.
  • It is the pleasure of God to permit creatures to exercise free volition. We should have no illusions about ourselves, we are here, not to glorify ourselves, not to impress God, but to line up with His pleasure and glory.

  • The Glory of God and the Divine decrees.

    The decrees unite in one all-inclusive and final objective the glory of God (PRO 6:4; ROM 11:36; HEB 2:10; Rev 4:11). Since the Members of the Godhead were alone before all creation, the decrees of God concerned no one but Them. The decrees were designed to glorify those who were there when they were made, not to glorify us who were not there. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had infinite glory in eternity past, and will have it in eternity future. Whatever they do in the interim – from the creation of the universe to the conclusion of history – must bring them infinite glory. Generally the decrees relate to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, because He is the manifest Person of the Trinity. When history terminates, God’s glory will be as perfect as it was before time began. Our failures do not stain the glory of God. His glory does not depend on us; we depend on His glory!

    Grace is born of the glory of God. Grace means that God does all the work, which adds up to our blessing. Whether in time or eternity, Divine blessing is all grace. The only things related to us that can glorify God are what God Himself accomplishes (such as imputing His righteousness or providing Bible doctrine). That is why He despises our self-righteousness and hypocrisy. He has no use for our legalism and human good, and He severely disciplines the legalist! When we begin to glorify ourselves or accomplishments, knowledge, or experiences, we are kidding ourselves and setting ourselves up for Divine discipline. Any time we are blessed of God, we can count on one thing: we did not earn or deserve it. It is God’s doing, exhibiting His glory, and we do not have to keep looking over our shoulder expecting to lose it! Once we understand His glory, we will certainly not want to intrude on it; we will want to go along with it, and there lies the blessing. Since He is the Origin and Subject (not the object) of the decrees, God will inevitably be glorified by every thought, decision and action in human history. The good and the bad are included; sin, evil, everything will all add up to the glorification of God. God’s glory is never held up; it never stops; it moves on with you or without you, no matter what you do. For those who remain unbelievers, there is the certainty of hell; God’s glory will remain uncompromised and untarnished. For those who believe there is heaven, again consistent with the glory of God. Both in time and in eternity God’s character is vindicated in everything that occurs.

    The decree of God allows maximum blessing for any believer, but recognizes that human volition can fall short of any potential. Only response to doctrine can fulfill the maximum blessing desired by God for the believer. The extent to which a believer advances is the extent to which the decrees of eternity past were declared for that individual. God knew beforehand how far each believer would advance, and that was decreed. In too many cases the potential far exceeds the reality!

    Both sin and the saving work on the Cross were fed into the computer of the Divine decrees. Remember that Sin is the permissive will of God; the Cross, the directive will. Sin is neutralized by the Cross; this is an example of how God permits man’s free will to oppose Him yet maintains His own integrity and wins in the end. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit knew that the two greatest systems of human law (Jewish and Roman) would meet at the Cross, and that both would break down and fail (actually the law did not fail; those administering it failed). The Members of the Trinity knew that hearsay would be accepted as evidence, that the facts would be omitted, and that the whole succession of Christ’s seven trials would be a railroading of the law. Nevertheless, the precise manner in which Christ was convicted and crucified was decreed in eternity past because God knew the freewill decisions of very individual involved. He knew the decisions of every member of the crowd that shouted, “Crucify Him!” He knew the conspiracy of the religious Pharisees. He knew the nature of religion because He knows Satan’s every thought, and religion is from Satan. Christ’s execution was the sum total of human evil and reversionism. It was the quintessence of sinfulness – sinfulness related to religion. The religious crowd crucified the Lord, yet God’s purpose was carried out by the free choice of man – even by the free negative volition of the evil, reversionistic men in the Sanhedrin. It was religion that put Christ on the Cross, but it was the justice of God the Father who used the crucifixion for His own purpose.

    Now there is a neat little twist! God used religion, the devil’s ace trump, to provide our salvation! Religion reached its peak only to inadvertently provide the grace way of salvation as the justice of God imputed the personal sins of mankind to Christ, and then judged them ALL on the Cross. This once again shows that no matter how great the creature may be, and Satan is the smartest of all creatures, God is always greater. Satan finally came up with a way to get rid of Jesus – Roman crucifixion. But through this supreme masterpiece of Satanic conspiracy came our so great salvation. God not only uses the wrath of man to praise Him (PSA 76:10), but He uses the wrath of angels as well! It was a combined satanic-human operation that put the Lord on the Cross. Satan thought he had accomplished his objective, and in no way had his volition been coerced. But all he had done was to contribute to our Lord’s objective. There is the beauty of the Divine decree!

    The Practical Application of the Divine decrees.

    Since the decree is the sum total of God’s plan and purpose in eternity past, it centers on the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ (EPH 1:4-6; 1JO 3:23). Therefore, the free will of man must face the issue of Christ and His work on the Cross. Faith in Christ is man’s entrance into the plan of grace. At the Cross, the sovereignty of God and the free volition of man meet for the glory of God and the advantage of mankind. The basis for this meeting is the justice of God. Under the divine policy of grace, the work of salvation is accomplished by God while man gains the benefits apart from human merit or ability. The definite antagonism between Divine

    Justice and human works means that human works are set-aside in every phase of the plan of grace.

    God’s plan in eternity past was designed to include all events and actions, related to their causes and conditions, as part of one indivisible system, every link being a part of the integrity of the whole. Each link is as important as the whole. The whole is the integrity of God making all the links properly relate through grace. This is how He makes all things work together for good. Without violating human volition, God has designed a plan so perfect that it includes directive, provision, preservation, function, cause and effect for all believers. Under this plan, God has decreed to do some things directly (such as creation or salvation), some through secondary agencies (as through Israel or the Church), and some through individuals (as through the Apostle Paul, or through us). Thus, there are primary, secondary, and tertiary functions within the Plan of God. It does not matter into which of these categories any action falls; all constitute one great, all- comprehensive plan, perfect, eternal, unchangeable, with no loss of integrity. We are part of a magnificently perfect plan designed to give us everything that is wonderful in time and in eternity. If our spiritual momentum carries us to Supergrace, we will be blessed! The plan of God is consistent with human freedom. God is not unfair; He does not limit or coerce our freedom. He graciously provides guidance as to how we should use our volition. The only revelation of the Divine decrees is found in the Bible; therefore, the highest priority in the Christian life is the reception of Bible doctrine. Some things God permits; other things He causes. Some things please Him; others do not, but God always recognizes reality. This is one of the most important aspects of our relationship with Him: Everything decreed is reality and, like God, we too must face the facts. Because God deals with reality, His plan must deal with things as they are. His solutions start with what is, not with what is not. There is no wishful thinking in God. He never rationalizes, He never blesses us out of sentimentality, or because of our character, plans, ideas, schemes or self-righteousness. He blesses us only on the basis of His character. Those who keep trying to vindicate themselves before God will never understand the righteousness of God, or how it relates to Divine justice.

    God created man with free will, and the fact that man can go contrary to the will of God proves the existence of truly free volition. It would be reasonable and honoring to God to conclude that the present plan as ordained and as it is being achieved is, and in the end will prove to be, the best plan and purpose that could have been devised by infinite wisdom, consummated by infinite power, and that which will be the supreme satisfaction to infinite love. The term Divine decree is an attempt to gather up into one designation that to which the Scriptures refer by various designations – the Divine purpose (EPH 1:11), determinate counsel (Acts 2:23), foreknowledge (1PE 1:2 cf. 1:20), election (1TH 1:4), predestination (Rom 8;30), the Divine will (EPH 1:11), and the Divine good pleasure (EPH 1:9).

    The decrees and Divine Imputations.

    All imputations are a part of the Divine decrees and the organization for the Plan of God, and there are seven imputations in the Plan of God:
    1. Human life is imputed to the soul, and it remains in the soul forever. This means children, and those who do not reach, or cannot reach the age of accountability, receive automatic salvation. Since condemnation precedes salvation, they must be condemned before they can be saved; therefore they are condemned at birth. Soul life is provided by God at birth (ECC 12:7; ISA 45:2) and JOB 33:4 which reads, And the breath from God has created me [a human being], and the breath [soul life] of the Almighty gives me [human] life. GEN 2:7 tells us when this life began, Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The Lord is the author of human life, 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.” The sin nature is a part of biological life, not passed on by God (ROM 6:6; ROM 7:14; GAL 5:16; EPH 2:3). Without soul life, biological life does not become a human being. Biological life originates with our parents; soul life originates from God at birth. Only Adam and the woman were given biological and soul life simultaneously at original creation. This is because neither Adam nor the woman, were ever inside the womb. There was no womb at creation, and no soul life in a womb. Soul life begins at the point of physical birth as one of two real imputations from God. God imputes human life to the format soul at birth; therefore, God gives human life.

    1. Adam’s original sin is imputed to the old sin nature, automatically condemning each member of the human race at birth, PSA 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” Psa 58:3 “The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth.”
      Isa 48:8 “You have not heard, you have not known. Even from long ago your ear has not been open, Because I knew that you would deal very treacherously; And you have been called a rebel from birth.”
      Rom 5:19 “for as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one the many will be made righteous.”
      This is very important to understand in the Divine decrees. Since God knew in eternity past that you were going to be a member of the human race, and He knew simultaneously in His Omniscience that you would believe in Jesus Christ, God selected you before he elected you. Selection must precede election. Selection is a technical term related to the Divine imputation of human life at the point of physical birth. God is the inventor of human life, just as He is the creator. At the moment of physical birth, God imputes human life to the soul, at which point the individual becomes alive. God did not have to impute life to you, but He did. For example, the Bible teaches that if you died in the womb you would not be a person. If the fetus died in the womb then God would not impute soul-life to that fetus. JOB 10:18-19, “Why then hast Thou brought me out of the womb? Would that I had died and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been, carried from womb to tomb.” Job is saying that as long as he was in the womb he was not a human being. Job had no human life until God imputed it to his soul. Verse nineteen explains the last phrase in verse eighteen. Job describes the limits of life: Out from the womb and to the tomb. Human life exists out from the womb (birth) to the tomb. The limits of human life are from birth to death. This is the sphere in which the angelic conflict is being resolved. There is no resolution to the angelic conflict inside the womb or inside the tomb. God gives human life at birth, and takes it away at death. We were given life to resolve the issue of the angelic conflict. The womb is not a part of the angelic conflict, and it does not contain human life. At birth, God creates soul life and imputes it to biological life. At death, God removes soul life from biological life, and for the believer, takes that soul life to heaven. If God does not give soul life at birth, there is no soul life and there is no existence. The life that the Lord gives at birth, He takes at death, and that life goes on forever. Biological life is only temporary, Soul life is permanent. It is not surprising that the Bible emphasizes human experience as existing between birth and death, not conception and death. A human being does not become a human being until after birth. ECC 3:2 “There is a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.” Notice, it does not say there is a time to be conceived. (See also EXO 21:22). At the moment of physical birth, God imputes human life to the soul, at which point the individual becomes alive. That is selection. God did not have to impute life to you, but He did. Therefore, life has meaning, purpose, and definition for everyone, regardless of environment or circumstances, historical prosperity or historical adversity.

    So far then we have noted that there are two imputations, which are a part of the Divine decrees: 1) Human life is imputed to the soul. 2) Adam’s original sin imputed to the old sin nature. The third imputation as a part of the Divine decrees takes place at the point of faith in Christ, eternal life is imputed to the human spirit, created by God the Holy Spirit (called regeneration). This provides eternal security, since once given, God can never take away eternal life. TIT 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. The fourth imputation in the Divine decrees is perfect righteousness is imputed as a judicial imputation to the believer at salvation. This creates a grace pipeline for the imputation of all blessing to the believer. 2CO 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
    PHI 3:9 “And may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
    The fifth imputation in the Divine decrees took place on the Cross when the sins of the world were imputed to Jesus Christ in His spiritual death.
    The sixth imputation is very vital when we consider that the Divine decrees are designed to bring glory to God, blessing in time is imputed to perfect righteousness previously imputed to the believer when the believer grows spiritually and especially cracks the maturity barrier.
    The seventh imputation is blessing for eternity that is imputed to the believer’s perfect righteousness at the judgment seat of Christ. The Omniscience of God in taking cognizance of the fall of man and graciously providing a plan based on imputations from Divine justice. This plan involves the Omniscience of God feeding into the Divine decrees seven imputations, which provide maximum blessing for mankind in time and eternity.

    The decrees contain the historical reality of every member of the human race in degree of attainment. Non-meritorious human volition can fall short of any potential of God’s plan. And to what extent every individual advances in this plan was known to the Omniscience of God in eternity past and fed into the Divine decrees. However, in many cases the potential exceeds the reality. Only the reality was decreed. From this fact emerges the principle that the attainment of divine blessing through imputation is the means God has chosen to glorify Himself and to give Himself pleasure. Therefore, the glory of God is related to the believer’s advance to maturity and resultant imputation of Divine blessing. So, if we desire to glorify God, we must grow spiritually, and to grow spiritually doctrine must be your daily delight! You only have capacity through persistent positive volition and the daily function of perception, metabolization and application of Bible doctrine. HEB 10:35-36, “Therefore, do not throw away your confidence [your confidence in doctrine or the Word of God] which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God [the fulfillment of the PPOG] you may receive what was promised [the imputation of escrow blessings for time].”
    Consistency is the secret to reaching maturity. The biggest difficulties in being consistent are distractions, mental attitude sins, inordinate desire rather than contentment, and entertainment. There has always been, and there still is, an attack on the daily intake of Bible doctrine. We live in a day and age when the kingdom of darkness has ministers pass themselves off as spiritual giants. There are believers that are being used by Satan to discredit doctrinal teaching and the believer’s commitment to the daily intake of doctrine. These individuals make it seem like we are fanatics if we take in doctrine daily. However, what does the scripture say? The Lord Jesus Christ made doctrine His delight daily, PRO 8:30 “Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him,” The Hebrew word chokmah means wisdom or doctrine promising blessings to those who listen to it daily, PRO 8:34 “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts.” The Lord Jesus Christ made it crystal clear that we would need the word of God daily to survive in MAT 4:4 and in LUK 9:23 we read, And He was saying to them all, “if anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

    Do not be deceived by individuals who are sent to try and stop your momentum in the PPOG, which only comes from your consistent intake of Bible doctrine. It is the only way that you will ever fulfill what the whole purpose of the Divine decrees is which is the glorification of God. You can see why Satan loves to discredit the daily intake of doctrine. The decrees unite in one final and all-inclusive objective, which is the glory of God (PRO 16:4; ROM 11:36; HEB 2:10). 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.” Being alone before all creation, the decrees of God concern no one but the members of the Trinity and Their eternal glory. There is nothing we can do to promote God’s glory, we can glorify God, but we cannot promote His glory. Our failure doesn’t stop His glory. Therefore, as the origin and subject of the Divine decrees, it is inevitable that every thought, decision, and action in history will glorify God. That means the plan moves on with or without us, the Plan of God never stops moving. God is glorified and pleased in the momentum and advance of believers within His plan. So, salvation is a free gift whereas rewards are earned by the production of Divine good! The fact that salvation is a free gift is brought out by such passages as; ROM 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The fact that Divine good depends on human volition is brought out in such passages as; MAT 10:42 “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward.” Every man is going to be rendered according to what he has done, again, our free will matters! The issue is that our life for all eternity is now in the making, our day-by-day attitudes toward Bible doctrine and our priorities will determine completely what we will receive at the Judgment seat of Christ. It takes only one decision for eternal life. It takes many, many decisions to receive the great decorations, honors, and rewards at the Judgment seat of Christ.

    Mankind is given a free will and a choice, this is why the Bible says in 1PE 4:5 “But they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” ROM 14:12 “So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Whatever free will choice anyone makes is the execution of the decrees. This means that we have some problems in our life, or some difficulties from time to time, and they are what they are and God does not head them off so that they cannot exist. God does not tamper with our decisions or the effects of them; God does provide for us the doctrine necessary to meet any situation in life when it occurs. This is why we have the doctrine of separation in the Bible. There are times that you need to separate from certain individuals because they will lead you in the wrong direction! The decrees provide the fact that every act of human volition shall be free on the part of the person. Again this means that God does not tamper with anyone’s free will. So, when we are praying for someone’s salvation, we cannot pray that they will believe, only that they will hear the Gospel.

    When every decision, motive and action was entered into the Divine decree no creature existed. So, God does not coerce our free will. He does influence our volition through circumstances! God knows how we would respond in any situation, and if He desires to bring in a situation, which will cause a negative reaction on our part and then in turn bring glory to Himself, He has the right to do so! This brings us to the principle of the potter and the clay! This passage regards the entire human race as clay in the hands of the potter. However, it refers to the fact that it is the potter’s wheel of authority that shapes the life of everyone, apart from being born-again and growing in grace. ROM 9:14-21, What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?

    Remember that the sovereignty of God and free will of man coexist in human history. And God has provided His authority, and the authority He has delegated, so that you can steer through life with virtue from humility and have a marvelous life. Whether a person becomes a vessel of honor or dishonor depends upon the function of his own volition with regard to Divine authority. Therefore, the difference between being a vessel of honor, and a vessel of dishonor, is your response to authority. What does a potter do with good vessels? He keeps them. With those of dishonor, he smashes them, and God has designed a system for doing so. God does not create dishonor, but God provides a potter’s wheel, which is legitimate authority in life. Whether a person becomes a vessel of honor or dishonor depends on the function of his own volition and attitude toward authority. The potter decides how a vessel will be molded, but the vessel will only be molded as it responds to the potter’s wheel. Just as the potter doesn’t pat out the vessel by hand, but uses a wheel, so God also uses a system: Authority. The issue is how we (the clay) respond to the potter’s wheel (authority). God has delegated authority in life so that the basis of virtue, humility, can be attained.

    There are some very important technical theological terms that as believers we must get straight. Each one has to do with a different aspect of the Plan of God for our life. The first one is foreknowledge. Proginosko is the Greek word, which means to know before hand. This means that the believer was in the mind of God in eternity past! Under the doctrine of election, He wants for us the very best of everything! He wants the very highest possible happiness you can experience! Only you, with your negative volition toward doctrine, can hinder that personal desire from the sovereignty of God. The foreknowledge of God does not make things happen, the foreknowledge of God merely perceives what is certain to occur. The second theological term essential to understand in the doctrine of the Divine decrees is predestination. This means that we as believers share the destiny of Christ. Predestination also means that the believer was in the Plan of God in eternity past. In eternity past, before any of us were alive, God knew all about everyone of us. He knew that we would believe in Christ and therefore, He gave us a destiny or a plan. Election is the third theological term which the believer must understand. Ekloge is the Greek word and means to be Divinely selected! Election means that not only did God will His best for each believer, but He also provided a plan whereby this can be fulfilled! As a part of the doctrine of the Divine decrees it is God’s sovereign will and desire that you have great happiness, and that we have great blessing, success and promotion. It is also His will that once we receive our resurrected body that we have those rewards and decorations and eternal privileges which are what EPH 3:20 calls “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” In addition He wills for every one of us to rule in the Millennium. However, none of these things will ever come to pass just because God wills it, we must respond to and follow His plan! Election then, more than foreknowledge and predestination, is motivation for the Christian life! If we understand election we will have motivation from God the Father for our life! This means we will be kept from being upset and disturbed! It will keep us from falling apart as things in our life do not go our way. Then there is the principle of Justification; this also deals with the printout applying to believers only. Justification means that the believer is under the grace policy of God, and this includes logistical grace! Both winners and losers are supported by logistical grace. In the grace of God, the Justice of God has imputed to winners and losers logistical grace support. The Justice of God imputes to the righteousness of God in us, everything it takes to keep us alive. Everything it takes to provide opportunities and privileges is given to us under logistical grace. All of us are alive because of the grace of God! Justification is the imputation of divine righteousness at the point of salvation. That imputation provides a wonderful means by which all of us are blessed in time as losers or winners. Finally, there is Glorification. All believers winners or losers will have a resurrected body, and reach glorification. However, in addition, winners will have many wonderful rewards and decorations, not only in time but also in the millennium and eternity. This is why ROM 8:28-32 says “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; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 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?

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