Quotes about God-Decrees
The decree of God is His firm decision by which He performs all things through His almighty power according to his counsel. Ephesians 1:11, “He does all things out of the counsel of His own will.”
The decree of God is His eternal plan or purpose, in which He has foreordained all things that come to pass. Since it includes many particulars, we often speak of the divine decrees in the plural, though in reality there is but a single decree. It covers all the works of God in creation and redemption, and also embraces the actions of men, not excluding their sinful deeds. But while it rendered the entrance of sin into the world certain, it does not make God responsible for our sinful deeds. His decree with respect to sin is a permissive decree.
The decree of God is founded in wisdom, Eph. 3:9-11, though we do not always understand it. It was formed in the depths of eternity, and is therefore eternal in the strictest sense of the word, Eph. 3:11. Moreover, it is effectual, so that everything that is included in it certainly comes to pass, Isa. 46:10. The plan of God is also unchangeable, because He is faithful and true, Job 28:13, 14; Isa. 46:10; Luke 22:22. It is unconditional, that is, its execution does not depend on any action of man but even renders such action certain, Acts 2:23; Eph. 2:8. Moreover, it is all-inclusive, embracing the good and the wicked actions of men, Eph. 2:10; Acts 2:28, contingent events, Gen. 50:20, the duration of man’s life, Job 14:5; Ps. 39:4, and the place of his habitation, Acts 17:26. With respect to sin it is permissive.
Has God decreed all things that come to pass? Then there is nothing that falls out by chance, nor are we to ascribe what we meet with either to good or ill luck and fortune. There are many events in the world which men look upon as mere accidents, yet all these come by the counsel and appointment of Heaven.
The great, and glorious end for which God decreed the after-being of sin, is His own glory: and the ends subordinate thereunto are not a few. Particularly, God decreed the futurition of sin:
1. That He might have occasion of glorifying His infinite wisdom, love, and grace in the redemption and salvation of a company of lost sinners through the death and sufferings of His own dear Son.
2. That His patience and long suffering in bearing with and forbearing sinners, might be magnified, admired, and adored.
3. That He might be honoured and glorified by the faith and repentance of His people, and their walking humbly with Him.
4. That His justice might be illustriously displayed and glorified in the eternal damnation of reprobate sinners for their own sins and abominations, sin being the cause of their damnation, though not of their reprobation.
Let the people of God comfort themselves in all cases by this doctrine of the divine decrees; and, amidst whatever befalls them, rest quietly and submissively in the bosom of God, considering that whatever comes or can come to pass, proceeds from the decree of their gracious friend and reconciled Father, who knows what is best for them, and will make all things work together for their good. O what a sweet and pleasant life would ye have under the heaviest pressures of affliction, and what heavenly serenity and tranquility of mind would you enjoy, would you cheerfully acquiesce in the good will and pleasure of God, and embrace every dispensation, how sharp soever it may be, because it is determined and appointed for you by the eternal counsel of His will!
Whoever be the instruments of any good to us, of whatever sort, we must look above them, and eye the hand and counsel of God in it, which is the first spring, and be duly thankful to God for it. And whatever evil of crosses or afflictions befalls us, we must look above the instruments of it to God.
Consider the end of God’s decrees – and this is no other than His own glory. Every rational agent acts for an end; and God being the most perfect agent, and His glory the highest end, there can be no doubt but all His decrees are directed to that end. “For to Him are all things” (Rom. 11.36).
The properties of God’s decrees:
1. They are eternal. God makes no decrees in time, but they were all from eternity. If the divine decrees were not eternal, God would not be most perfect and unchangeable, but, like weak man, should take new counsels, and would be unable to tell everything that were to come to pass (Eph. 1:4).
2. They are most wise. God cannot properly deliberate or take counsel, as men do; for He sees all things together and at once. Nothing is determined that could have been better determined (Rom. 11:33).
3. They are free. [They depend] on no other, but all flowing from the mere pleasure of His own will. He has made no decrees suspended on any condition without Himself (Rom. 11:34).
4. They are unchangeable. God’s decrees are constant; and He by no means alters His purpose, as men do (Psm. 33:1).
5. They are most holy and pure (1 Jn. 1:5).
6. They are effectual. Whatsoever God decrees comes to pass infallibly (Isa. 46.10).
That all sinful actions fall under the divine decree. Though sin itself flows from transgressing the law, yet the futurition of it is from the decree of God. No such thing could ever have been in the world, if it had not been determined by the eternal counsel of Heaven for a holy and just end. This is plainly asserted by the apostle Peter, with respect to the greatest villainy that was ever committed on the earth, namely, the death and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ, at the hands of sinful men (Ac. 2:23; 4:27-28)… There was never such an atrocious crime or higher act of wickedness committed, than the murdering of the Lord of glory. And yet it appears from these texts of Scripture, that, in this bloody and horrid scene, wicked men did no more than God’s hand and counsel determined before to be done.
God hath decreed the end, so He hath decreed the means that are proper for attaining that end; so that these two must not be separated.
It is our duty to look to God’s commands, and not to His decrees; to our own duty, and not to His purposes. The decrees of God are a vast ocean, into which many possibly have curiously pried to their own horror and despair; but few or none have ever pried into them to their own profit and satisfaction.
When ye murmur and repine under cross and afflictive dispensations, this is a presuming to instruct God how to deal with you, and to reprove Him as if He were in the wrong. Yea, there is a kind of implicit blasphemy in it, as if you had more wisdom and justice to dispose of your lot, and to carve out your own portion in the world. This is upon the matter the language of such a disposition, Had I been on God’s counsel, I had ordered this matter better; things had not been with me as now they are. O presume not to correct the infinite wisdom of God, seeing He has decreed all things most wisely and judiciously.
[God’s decrees were] formed within Himself. He needed not to go without Himself, either for the impulse which led to it, or the knowledge in which it was conceived. He had all knowledge, both of the actual and the possible, all wisdom as to the best end and means, all power to execute what He devised in the use, or without the use of appropriate secondary means, and free will to select, of all possible plans and means, whatever He Himself should please, and the impulse which moved Him existed alone in that knowledge and will.
The Scriptural authority for the doctrine of decrees:
1. [They] are eternal (Ac. 15:18; Eph. 1:4; 3:11; 1 Pet. 1:20; 2 Thes. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Cor. 2:7).
2. They are immutable (Psm. 33:11; Isa. 46:9).
3. They comprehend all events.
a. The Scriptures assert this of the whole system in general embraced in the divine decrees (Dan. 4:34, 35; Ac. 17:26; Eph. 1:11).
b. They affirm the same of fortuitous events (Pr. 16:33; Mat. 10:29, 30).
c. Also of the free actions of men (Eph. 2:10, 11; Phil. 2:13).
d. Even the wicked actions of men (Ac. 2:23; 4:27, 28; 13:29; 1 Pet. 2:8; Jude 4; Rev. 17:17. As to the history of Joseph, compare Gen. 37:28, with Gen. 45:7, 8, and Gen. 50:20. See also Psm. 17:13, 14; Isa. 10:5, 15).
4. [They] are not conditional (Psm. 33:11; Pr. 19:21; Isa. 14:24, 27; 46:10; Rom. 9:11).
5. They are sovereign (Isa. 40:13, 14; Dan. 4:35; Mat. 11:25, 26; Rom. 9:11, 15-18; Eph. 1:5, 11).
6. They include the means (Eph. 1:4; 2 Thes. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2).
7. They determine the free actions of men (Ac. 4:27, 28 ; Eph. 2:10).
a. God Himself works in His people that faith and obedience which are called the conditions of salvation (Eph. 2:8; Phil. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:25).
b. The decree renders the event certain (Mat. 16:21; Lk. 18:31-33; 24:46; Ac. 2:23; 13:29; 1 Cor. 11:19).
c. While God has decreed the free acts of men, the actors have been none the less responsible (Gen. 50:20; Ac. 2:23; 3:18; 4:27, 28).
Whether God has decreed all things that ever come to pass or not, all that own the being of a God, own that He knows 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.
As a philosophical idea, God’s decreeing of a thing has dominance over His seeing a thing beforehand. Even though…the word foreknowledge is more than pre-sight, we nonetheless cannot disregard the verity that God sees all things beforehand. Thus God’s seeing all things has forever been a reality to Him, and God’s determining all things has also been forever. These two have had eternal origins. As long as He has decreed, He has known; and as long as He has known, He has decreed. So, in one sense, we cannot put one philosophical idea ahead of the other in terms of time. Yet we can put one above the other in terms of dominance. If God has seen and determined at the same time, we cannot make His decreeing subservient to His knowing. The reason one is preceding the other in terms of force (not time) is that determination is a willful act of God, whereas seeing is a passive act. God cannot help but see all, but He wills to decree. Therefore what He determines, He sees; and what He sees, is determined. The force of decreeing a thing dominates the seeing.
The decrees of God are the eternal plans of God whereby, before the creation of the world, He determined to bring about everything that happens. This doctrine is similar to the doctrine of providence, but here we are thinking about God’s decisions before the world was created, rather than His providential actions in time. His providential actions are the outworking of the eternal decrees that He made long ago.
To deny the Divine decrees would be to predicate a world and all its concerns regulated by undesigned chance or blind fate. Then what peace, what assurance, what comfort would there be for our poor hearts and minds? What refuge would there be to fly to in the hour of need and trial? None at all. There would be nothing better than the black darkness and abject horror of atheism. O my reader, how thankful should we be that everything is determined by infinite wisdom and goodness! What praise and gratitude are due unto God for His Divine decrees.
The decrees of God relate to all future things without exception: whatever is done in time, was foreordained before time began. God’s purpose was concerned with everything, whether great or small, whether good or evil.
Properties of the divine decrees. They are:
1. Eternal – To suppose any of [God’s decrees] to be made in time, is to suppose that some new occasion has occurred, some unforeseen event or combination of circumstances has arisen, which has induced the Most High to form a new resolution.
2. Wise – Wisdom is shown in the selection of the best possible ends and of the fittest means of accomplishing them. That this character belongs to the decrees of God is evident from what we know of them. They are disclosed to us by their execution, and every proof of wisdom in the works of God is a proof of the wisdom of the plan, in conformity to which they are performed.
3. Free – God was alone when He made His decrees, and His determinations were influenced by no external cause. He was free to decree or not to decree, and to decree one thing and not another. This liberty we must ascribe to Him who is supreme, independent, and sovereign in all His doings
4. Unconditional – The execution of them is not suspended upon any condition which may, or may not be, performed. In every instance where God has decreed an end, He has also decreed every means to that end.
Side by side with the immutability and invincibility of God’s decrees, Scripture plainly teaches that man is a responsible creature and answerable for his actions. And if our thoughts are formed from God’s Word the maintenance of the one will not lead to the denial of the other. That there is a real difficulty in defining where the one ends and the other begins, is freely granted. This is ever the case where there is a conjunction of the Divine and the human.
God “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). This “all things” includes the fall of sparrows (Matthew 10:29), the rolling of dice (Proverbs 16:33), the slaughter of his people (Psalm 44:11), the decisions of kings (Proverbs 21:1), the failing of sight (Exodus 4:11), the sickness of children (2 Samuel 12:15), the loss and gain of money (1 Samuel 2:7), the suffering of saints (1 Peter 4:19), the completion of travel plans (James 4:15), the persecution of Christians (Hebrews 12:4-7), the repentance of souls (2 Timothy 2:25), the gift of faith (Philippians 1:29), the pursuit of holiness (Philippians 3:12-13), the growth of believers (Hebrews 6:3), the giving of life and the taking in death (1 Samuel 2:6) and the crucifixion of his Son (Acts 4:27-28).
God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
This will of God is the first cause of all things. If we seek out the reason why things are, back to the original cause, we must find it in the decree, and determined by God’s will.
The decrees of God are His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, He hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.
[God’s decrees are based on the] conception of God as a rational, intelligent being who is a wise builder, who has an idea of His works before He does them. It is clear that God works in time and therefore we suppose that He intended to do so before time.
God’s infinite wisdom may be seen in His plan. In our minds, a plan is necessary to any sort of decree, human or divine. The Bible plainly shows us that God works according to a plan. We can describe His plan in this way: it is His eternal deliberation with Himself, concerning the best way to accomplish His own purposes.
That there are no random events with respect to God. To us it is true that time and chance influence all things. Things come to pass in unseen ways, and by unknown means, but with respect to God it is not so. Nothing can happen either outside His knowledge or intention, for it is His decree that gives being to all events. The things that are, would never be if He had not intended them.