Sunday, February 17, 2008

Shorter Catechism Q7

What are the decrees of God?
The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the cousel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

This doctrine of the unfailing eternal purpose of God, that his glory may be manifest, is central to Reformed Evangelical Protestantism (and perhaps to wider Christianity, but I am not familiar enough with the detailed doctrines of these denominations to comment). God will do as He pleases and His will is certain to come to pass for He will make it so. Ephesians 1:11-12 was written to early believers: "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory." Everything that occurs, including the faithful hope of believers in Christ, occurs because God has chosen that it will be so. "God does not do what He does, nor order what He orders, accidentally or unawares; either without or beside His intention. And if there be a foregoing design of doing and ordering as He does, this is the same with a purpose or decree." ~ Edwards

Knowledge of this doctrine necessitates a response from believers. God has claimed us for His own, becasue He chose to do so. (O what a marvellous thought!) Ephesians 1:13-14 continues: "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory." My favourite verses of all follow in Ephesians 2:8-10: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." God chose me. God has ordained what He would have me do for His glory. By His grace, He enables me to obey His will. "Certainly, if any man hath an infallible understanding, I will be ruled by him. God hath: He works all things, and all effectually, by the counsel of His own will. Therefore in all thy ways give up thyself to Him." ~ Goodwin

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