In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,... (Eph. 1:11)
Question 7: What are the decrees of God?[i]
Answer: The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His own will, whereby for His own glory He has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.
When we talk about decrees, the most basic definition of a decree is any command or order given by a ruler for the sake of carrying out the task of governing or leading. Thus, when we talk about the decrees of God, we are talking about those commands by which God orders, governs, rules, and orchestrates all of creation and all of world history. The Bible makes clear in numerous places that there is nothing in this world that happens by chance. Ephesians 1:11 says, "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,…" Note: we are told that God "works all things according to the counsel of his will." The text does not say God works most things or many things, but "all things." This is not to say that we are simply puppets or chess pieces that God is moving around on a cosmic chessboard. Human beings are free moral agents who make our own decisions and bear responsibility for our own actions; however, behind and underneath every human decision, every human action, and every event that takes place in world history, lies the sovereign hand and sovereign direction of God. How the complete sovereignty of God and human responsibility work together is a divine mystery. The Bible never fully explains that for us. But both are contained within holy scripture and thus both are to be believed. The comfort in knowing this is that our lives are not at the mercy of chance or circumstance but that there is nothing that happens in the life of the believer that is not first filtered through the loving fingers of our Heavenly Father.
[i] “A Catechism with Proofs” by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
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