God Decrees ALL that is to pass
aymon de albatrus
"Him, when he was given up, by the decision and knowledge of God, you put to death on the cross, by the hands of evil men:" (Act 2:23)
Definition of Decree: "GOD from all eternity did by the most wise and holy council of his own will freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin (man's) nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away but rather established."
The definition of Godís decree can be simplifies as: "That eternal plan by which God has rendered certain by His Sovereign will ALL events He has determined for the whole of Creation (nothing left out); past, present, and future."
This summary list of Scriptural authority for the doctrine of decrees is supplied by: James P. Boyce:
1. God's decrees are eternal. Act 15:18; Eph 1:4; 3:11; 1Pe 1:20; 2Th 2:13; 2Ti 1:9; 1Co 2:7.
2. They are immutable. Psa 33:11; Isa 46:9.
3. They comprehend all events.
(1.) The Scriptures assert this of the whole system in general embraced in the divine decrees. Dan 4:34,35; Act 17:26; Eph 1:11.
(2.) They affirm the same of fortuitous events. Pro 16:33; Mat 10:29,30.
(3.) Also of the free actions of men. Eph 2:10,11; Phi 2:13.
(4.) Even the wicked actions of men. Act 2:23; 4:27,28; 13:29; 1Pe 2:8; Jud 1:4; Rev 17:17. As to the history of Joseph, compare Gen 37:28, with Gen 45:7,8, and Gen 50:20. See also Psa 17:13,14; Isa 10:5,15.
4. The decrees of God are not conditional. Psa 33:11; Pro 19:21; Isa 14:24,27; 46:10; Rom 9:11.
5. They are sovereign. Isa 40:13,14; Dan 4:35; Mat 11:25,26; Rom 9:11,15-18; Eph 1:5,11.
6. They include the means. Eph 1:4; 2Th 2:13; 1Pe 1:2.
7. They determine the free actions of men. Act 4:27,28 ; Eph 2:10.
8. God himself works in his people that faith and obedience which are called the conditions of salvation. Eph 2:8; Phi 2:13; 2Ti 2:25.
9. The decree renders the event certain. Mat 16:21; Luk 18:31-33; 24:46; Act 2:23; 13:29; 1Co 11:19.
10. While God has decreed the free acts of men, the actors have been none the less responsible for them. Gen 50:20; Act 2:23; 3:18; 4:27,28.
This is a simple concept to understand Godís decrees (Decree): at the beginning God was alone and decided to create and give life to whatever He wanted to create for His pleasure e.g. Universes, Galaxies, Stars, Worlds, Humankind and all the rest, from nothing, to be manifested at His appointed time. He had a choice of infinite possibilities and decided to give life to the one we live in now. There is nothing created that He has not created, ALL that exists, He has created and given life to it. This makes Him the Absolute Owner, Sovereign and Governor of all Creation and there is no other God outside Him (Deu 4:39). This Creation has intertwined in it the actions of God and all the voluntary action of mankind; good, evil, all of them, that God decreed that they should be to obtain an end result (absolutely certain) that He wanted, unknown to us.
One action causes another and so on. When God decided to give life to that possibility (now a certainty) He "saw" every single little details, from beginning to end, these were known to Him even before He created Creation, thus being fixed in time and space, therefore not a single detail can change as an happening follows another. This predestined reality has included in it all the "free" action of mankind together with the interventions of God, such as: the Christ and His death on the cross, Salvation of the Elect, every exhortation to do good, every menace of punishment, all the blessings, etc; i.e. nothing excluded or left to chance. In this system man is responsible of his actions because he did them consciously, without any forcing from God, BUT, at the same time all that happens in this reality is perfectly coherent with what God wants, for He knows the beginning from the end because He not only saw those, but He also decreed them to be.
One example of this principle is presented in the famous passage: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Rom 8:28) In our life many things occur that seem to be evil, and yet all things work together for the good of His own, even the evil ones. For example, Hitler has existed by the will of God, if God had not wanted him, this satanic man would not have existed. Indeed this malefic man and his evil actions, in the infinite prescience of God, have cooperated, in some ways, to the good of His own. And the same applies to that pure essence of evil that is Satan.
The conclusion, without fear of refutation, is that independently if one has a Calvinistic or Arminian vision of the Creation of God, the immovable truth is that everything is in fact preordained, or predestined, according to what God has established (decreed) before the foundation of the world and that nothing can change from what God has "seen" and decreed before time began, other ways the definition of God, as God, falls.
In this creation God has intervened at his pleasure, and he makes people born, live and die at His liking for His reasons, in all righteousness. Moreover He gives Salvation in Christ to whom He wants to, not for reasons found in the creature, but for His reasons, unknown to us: "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." (Deu 29:29) Salvation is by Grace, it is a gift of God that cannot be had by works lest any man should boast and it was settled (decreed) forever before the foundation of time.
Indeed, the founder of our Faith and our blessed Lord, Master and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was Himself preordained before time began: "Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you," (1Pe 1:20)
The decree of God is His most holy purpose or determination with respect to future things. We human speak of decrees as if they were many to counter each situation in human affairs, but to God it is one decree. By His infinite understanding He does not proceed by steps, from one stage to another He knows ALL things at once: "Known unto God are all His works, from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18).
Scripture makes mention of the decrees of God in many passages using a variety of terms. The word "decree" of God is found in Psalms 2:7; 148:6. In Ephesians 3:11 we read of His "eternal purpose." In Acts 2:23 of His "determinate counsel and foreknowledge." In Ephesians 1:9 of the mystery of His "will." In Romans 8:29 that He also did predestinate. In Ephesians 1:9 of His "good pleasure." Godís decrees are called His "counsel" to signify they are consummately wise. They are called Godís "will" to show He was under no control, but acted according to His own pleasure. When a manís will is the rule of his conduct, it is usually capricious and unreasonable; but wisdom is always associated with "will" in the Divine proceedings, and accordingly, Godís decrees are said to be "the counsel of His own will" (Eph 1:11).
God is omnipotent and His works are not forced upon Him or required in any way. He was not under any coercion to create the world: he did it according to His good pleasure: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." (Rev 4:11) Furthermore, He is able to do any powerful work He may desire, and the creation of the world did not overtax Him, nor was there anybody capable to stay His hand (Dan 4:35). . Why, then, is there a difference between the possible things, which will never actually come into being, and those future things, that will in time come into existence? The difference is found the will of God.
The decrees of God relate to all future things without exception: whatever is done in time was foreordained before time began. Godís purpose was concerned with everything, whether great or small, whether good or evil. Godís decree is as comprehensive as His government, extending to all creatures and all events. It was concerned about our life and death; about our state in time, and our state in eternity. As God works all things after the counsel of His own will, we learn from His works what His counsel is (was), as we judge of an architectís plan by inspecting the building, which was erected under his directions.
God did not merely decree to make man, place him upon the earth, and then leave him to his own uncontrolled guidance like winding up a clock and then forgetting about it. Instead, He fixed all the circumstances in the lot of individuals, and all the particulars which will comprise the history of the human race from its commencement to its close. Our days are numbered, and so are the hairs of our heads. We may learn what is the extent of the Divine decrees from the dispensations of providence, in which they are executed. The care of Providence reaches to the most insignificant creatures, and the minutest events such as the death of a sparrow, and the fall of a hair. (Mat 10:29-31)
Let us now consider some of the properties of the Divine decrees:
They are eternal: Some suppose that God has a bagful of "contingency plans", if thing do not move along as He wants, then the Most High is induced to form a new resolution. This false notion would argue that the knowledge of His deity is limited, and that He is growing wiser in the progress of time which would be a horrible blasphemy worthy of the fires of hell. Any one that believes that has in mind a puny useless god. God is not like that famous story: "There is an Italian housewife that decides to make spaghetti: la la la - flour; la la la - eggs; la la la - kilo of sugar !!! sugar??, what !! ahh well, I will make biscuits instead." God is not ignorant of future events, which will be executed by human volitions; He has foretold them to us in innumerable instances, and prophecy is but the manifestation of His eternal prescience. Scripture affirms that believers were chosen in Christ before the world began (Eph 1:4), that grace was "given" to them before time began (2Ti 1:9). God makes NO mistakes and knows ALL events from past to future for He is Omniscient. Godís decrees are ETERNAL (Act 15:18; Eph 1:4; 2Th 2:13),
They are wise: To achieve His own ends God makes use of the best means to attain them. Proof of wisdom in the works of God is a proof of the wisdom of the plan, in conformity to which they are performed. As the Psalmist declared, "O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all" (Psa 104:24). What we see is but a very small part of Godís works, yet, we ought to proceed here as we do in other cases, and judge of the whole by the specimen, of what is unknown, by what is known. If we understand a little about a wonderful machine, we take also for granted that what we do not understand is also wondrous, in other words we judge of the whole by the specimen, of what is unknown, by what is known. Similarly we should satisfy our minds that the whole of Godís works is perfect and wise, judging by the few things we know about the Almighty God. When we reach the bounds of our finite minds and gaze toward the mysterious realm of the infinite, we can only exclaim in wonderment: "O the depth of the riches! both of the wisdom and knowledge of God" (Rom 11:33).
They are free: To the prophet Isaiah it was given to see a little of God majesty and he wrote: "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being His counsellor hath taught Him? With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and showed to Him the way of understanding?" (Isa 40:13,14). God was alone when He made His decrees, and His determinations were influenced by no external cause. He was free to decree or not to decree, and to decree one thing and not another. This liberty we must ascribe to Him who is supreme, independent, and sovereign in all His doings. This liberty we do not have, for only He has it, and we are created being according to His immutable Holy plan and for His pleasure.
They are absolute and unconditional: The execution of Godís decree does NOT depend on any condition, which may, or may not be, performed by His creature. Every single thing that God decreed, he not only has decreed its end, but He has also decreed every means to that end. The One who decreed the salvation of His elect also decreed to work faith in them (2Th 2:13). "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure" (Isa 46:10): but that could not be so, if His counsel depended upon a condition which might not be performed, such as actions of men. But God "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph 1:11). Godís decrees are unchangeable (Psa 33:11; Isa 46:9), and comprehend ALL things that come to pass (Eph 1:11; Mat 10:29,30; Eph 2:10; Act 2:23; 4:27,28; Psa 17:13,14).
The doctrine of Godís decree ought to produce in our minds humble humility, in view of the infinite greatness and sovereignty of God, and of the complete dependence of man; confidence and implicit reliance upon wisdom, righteousness, goodness, and immutability of God's purpose according to His pleasure.