Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Decrees of God

The second chapter in Arthur Pink's book The Attributes of God (Baker Books, 1975) is entitled "The Decrees of God." The decrees of God are "his purpose or determination with respect to future things...They are called God's 'will' to show he was under no control, but acted according to his own pleasure. When a man's 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, God's decrees are said to be 'the counsel of his own will' (Eph. 1:11)" [15-16].

I would add that infinite holiness and infinite goodness are also always associated with "will" in the Divine proceedings. Holiness, goodness, and wisdom are constants in the Being of God. When we are careful to keep this in mind we avoid many errors, fallacies, and heresies, not to mention griefs.

"The decrees of God relate to all future things without exception: whatever is done in time was foreordained before time began" (16). This truth, of course, leads to many challenges and difficulties, not the least of which is the relationship between Divine decree and human responsibility. But in the end I find the absolute sovereignty of God over all things to be inescapable because if nothing else his absolute and eternal foreknowledge of all things demands it. Pink quotes Jonathan Edwards in this regard:

"Whether God has decreed all things that ever come to pass or not, all that own the Being of God, own that He know all things beforehand. Now, it is self-evident that if He knows all things beforehand, He either doth approve of them or doth not approve of them; that is, He either is willing they should be, or He is not willing they should be. But to will that they should be is to decree them" (19).

This is one place where the constants of holiness, goodness, and wisdom in the Being of God become preeminently important. As difficult as it is to understand how and why God could and would decree all things--even bad things--we must learn, as beloved children in Christ, to trust the character, will, and purposes of our Father. He has thought it best to create the world as it is, and in the end we will see why this is so, even as we are now seen, and we will worship him for his great goodness and wisdom. And indeed, not us only but all creation:

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved--and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:4-7, emphasis added).

"Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!' And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!' And the four living creatures said, 'Amen!' and the elders fell down and worshiped" (Rev. 5:11-14).

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