As we are talking about the decrees of God, we are journeying into the revelation of the eternal plan by which God has rendered certain all the events of the universe, past present and the future. These decrees may appear as an exponential list of instruction and directions to our finite comprehension. However, in their own nature they are but one plan, which embraces not only effects but also causes, into only the ends to be secured but also the means needful to secure them.
In Romans 8:28, we find an illustration of our call to meet His purpose. The many decrees for the salvation of many individuals are represented as forming but one purpose- to represent one purpose of God. Ephesians 1:11 foreordained according to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of his will. Notice again the Word purpose in the singular, Ephesians 3:11 according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. This one purpose or plan of God includes both means and ends, prayer and its answer, labor and fruit. God has His plan for every man.
There is a single plan which embraces all things. We use the word decree when we think of it partially. In fact, no event is isolated. To determine one involves determination of the whole concentration of causes and effects which constitutes the universe. The word plan is preferable to the word decrees, because plan excluded the ideas of: plurality, short- sightedness, arbitrariness, compulsion.
The decrees, as the eternal act of an infinitely perfect will, though they have logical relation to each other, have no chronological relations. They are not therefore the result of deliberation, in any sense that implies short-sightedness or hesitancy.
Logically, in God’s decree the sun precedes the sunlight, and the decrees to bring into being a father precedes the decree that there shall be a Son. God decrees man before man’s existence. He knows the crops in the field are ripening in the Son, He has already called the harvest, and the reapers. Ephesians 1:11 – The counsel of His will. Means, not deliberation, but wisdom.
Since the will in which the decrees have their origin is free will, the decrees are not merely instinctive or necessary exercise of the divine intelligence or volition such as pantheism supposes. It belongs to the perfection of God that He have a plan, and the best possible plan. Here is no necessity, but only the certainty that infinite wisdom will not act wisely. God’s decrees are not Gods; they are not identical with eternal Son proceeds from the eternal Father. There is free will in God, which acts with infinite certainty, yet without necessity. To call even the decree of salvation necessary is to deny grace and to make an un-free God.
The decrees have references to things outside of God. God does not institute decrees to be holy, nor to exist as the Godhead which is His essence. The decrees are the preparation for external events, the embracing of certain things and acts in a plan. They do not include those processes and operations within the Godhead which have no reference to the universe.
The decree to act is not the act. The decrees are an internal exercise and manifestation of the divine attributes and are not to be confounded with creation, providence, and redemption which are the execution of the decrees. The decrees are the first operation of attributes, and the first manifestations of personality of which we have any knowledge within the Godhead. They presuppose those essential acts or movements within the divine nature which we call generation and procession. They involve by way of consequence that execution of the decrees which we call creation, providence, and redemption, but they are not to be confounded with either of these.
For next time, I will discuss the nature of decrees as they relate to our freewill and the purpose of our existence.
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