A. Decree is God’s eternal plan.
B. It is God’s eternal, holy, wise, and sovereign purpose, comprehending at once all things that ever were or will be in their causes, courses, successions and relations and determining certain futurition.
C. In reality, there is only one decree–the sum total of God’s plan.
D. The omniscience of God is the key to understanding the decree.
1. Self-knowledge=God knows Himself totally.
2. Omniscience=God knows all things outside Himself both actually and possibly.
3. Foreknowledge=This acknowledges the actual facts of reality. Foreknowledge makes nothing certain. It only acknowledges which is certain.
II. FUNCTION OF THE DECREE
1. God knows perfectly, eternally, and simultaneously all that is knowable, both the actual and the possible.
2. Such perception and sagacity is totally compatible with God’s essence.
3. Omniscience sees the free as free, the necessary as necessary, together with all their causes, conditions, and relations as one indivisible system of things. Every link of which is essential to the integrity of the whole. Every cause and effect is related to another cause and effect. Volition is the uncaused cause of human function so that the course of history is just as man thinks it, wills it, does it.
“Predestination” does not mean that God forces us into an action. Even though God knew which way man would choose to go and decreed only that one to become reality. He knows all the repercussions of each alternative.
B. THE DECREE ITSELF
1. The decrees are the complete and consummated right of the sovereignty of God to determine the certain futurition of all things.
a. God has rights.
b. God has exercised this right to make all things certain.
2. No event is directly effected or caused by the decree.
The decree merely establishes what will be caused, but the decree itself is not the cause. The cause may be, for example, the free will of an individual.
3. The cause of some events is the free will of man but this, on the other hand, does not mean that man’s will is beyond God’s control (that man can cause things that are not in the divine decrees).
a. God has decided in eternity past what human beings would be like: we would be rational creatures with free will. Our souls would have self-consciousness.
b. Because God cannot contradict His own nature, the essence and attributes of God necessitated His willing the highest and best for mankind.
C. ELECTION, FOREKNOWLEDGE AND PREDESTINATION FLOW FROM THE DIVINE DECREES.
1. These terms describe the act of the infinite, eternal, omniscience of God which determined the certain futurition of events related to the believer.
2. God’s decrees never originates from His foreknowledge. Although all three (election, foreknowledge and predestination) exist simultaneously in the mind of God. The separation is logical, not chronological.
3. Election is the plan of God for believer’s only.
Election is God’s complete agreement with His own foreknowledge (1 Pe 1:2).
a. God knew ahead of time who would choose freely to believe in Christ.
b. God decreed that such an act of faith would actually occur.
c. God agreed not only that their positive volition about Christ would occur at a certain point in time but also that all the blessings of salvation plus certain unique blessings would be their eternal possessions (Ep 1:4; 2 Th 2:13).
4. Election is declared through God’s foreknowledge; election is a function of predestination.
The believer shares in the destiny of Christ (2 Ti 1:9; Eph 1:5)
Believers also share in the election of Christ (Is 41:2; 1 Pe 2:6)
A. Decree includes all the facts of history.
B. There is one all-inclusive will and purpose of God concerning all that ever will be.
C. The decree originated entirely within God Himself.
D. The decree is efficacious, as the direct work of God. His work always succeeds in its intended effect.
E. The decree guarantees certainty.
F. The decree is all-comprehensive.
G. The decree is eternal.
H. The decree was completed simultaneously within His purpose/s.
I. The decree is perfect.
J. God’s perfect plan includes all imperfect persons, but He maintains His perfection and integrity through His policy of grace.
K. The decree of God is unchangeable and certain.
Unchangeable–because it only deals with reality.
Certain–because omniscience always knew that these things would occur under the circumstances of the particular moment in history.
L. The decree is the free choice of divine sovereignty.
M. God has decreed ends as well as means, causes as well as effects, conditions and instrumentalities as well as the events which depend on them.
N. Some things God decreed to do Himself.
We call the things God decreed to do Himself “immediate” things in contrast to “mediate” things which He decreed that some other agency, such as the free will of man would perform.
For example, creation is “immediate.”
O. God accomplishes some things through secondary causes acting under the law of necessity.
P. All events are equally certain to occur whether primary or secondary causes.
Q. We must distinguish between the decree of God and the desire of God.
R. Distinction must be made between the decree of God and the laws of God (set up for human volition to operate).
IV. HUMAN FREEDOM AND THE DECREES—CONCURSUS VS ALL THINGS TO THE IMMEDIATE AGENCY OF GOD
A. One admits and the other denies the reality and efficiency of second causes.
B. One makes no distinction between free and necessary events; the other admits the validity and unspeakable importance of the distinction.
C. The one asserts and the other denies that the agency of God is the same in sinful acts that it is in good acts.
D. One admits that God is the author of sin, the repudiates that.
E. Free agency means:
1. We have power (natural) to act freely.
2. To act freely implies we originate our own acts.
F. This is not inconsistent with our liberty to be induced to exert our ability to act by considerations addressed to our reason or inclinations.
1. God can hinder an action.
2. God can determine an action.
G. Relation of providence to freedom:
1. God sometimes allows man to do as he pleases–puts no restrains in the way.
2. God sometimes keeps a man from doing what in his freedom he would otherwise do.
He uses circumstances, influence of friends, inner restrains to accomplish His purpose.
3. God overrules what man does to his own ends.
He even makes the wrath of man to praise him.
H. Example= prayer
1. God does some things only in answer to prayer.
2. God does some things without prayer.
3. God does some things contrary to prayer.