By C.D. Cole


    By the decree of God is meant His purpose or determination with

 regard to future events.  It means that things come to pass according to

 a Divine purpose rather than by a fixed natural law or blind fate or

 capricious chance.  To deny the decrees or foreordination of God is

 practically to dethrone Him.  It puts Him on the sidelines as an

 interested but helpless spectator to what is going on.


    "A universe without decrees would be as irrational and appalling

 as would be an express train driving on in the darkness without

 headlight or engineer, and with no certainty that the next moment it

 might not plunge into the abyss" (A. J. Gordon).


    "Plan and purpose as we may, the plans and purposes will turn

 only to the final end which God has predetermined" (Henry).


    "We give thanks to God for blessings which come to us through

 the free actions of others, but if God has not purposed these blessings,

 we owe thanks to others and not to God" (A. H. Strong).


    "The Scriptures make mention of the decrees of God in many

 passages and under a variety of terms.  The word 'decree' is found in

 #Ps 2:7: "I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me,

 Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee."  In #Eph 3:11  we

 read of His 'eternal purpose':"According to the eternal purpose which

 he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord"; In #Ac 2:23 'determinate

 counsel and foreknowledge':"Him, being delivered by the

 determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by

 wicked hands have crucified and slain"; In #Eph 1:9 of his 'good

 pleasure':"Having made known unto us the mystery of his will,

 according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself."

 God's decrees are called His 'counsel' to signify they are

 consummately wise. "Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am

 understanding; I have strength" (#Pr 8:14).  They are called God's

 'will' to show He was under no control, but acted according to His own

 pleasure. "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by

 Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will"

 (#Eph 1:5).  When a man's will is the rule of his conduct; it is usually

 capricious and unreasonable; but wisdom is always associated with

 'will' in the Divine proceedings, and, accordingly, God's decrees are

 said to be the 'counsel of His own will" (A. W. Pink).


    "Victor Hugo, recognizing the overruling divine hand, said,

 'Waterloo was God.'  God in the exercise of His infinite wisdom and

 power, so personally directs and controls the free actions of men as to

 determine all things in accordance with His eternal purpose" (E. H.





    All things were not decreed in the same sense. Sinful acts of men

 were not decreed in the same sense as were righteous acts.  God is the

 efficient cause of all that is good, while evil is only permitted and

 directed and overruled for His glory.  The sinful acts of men which

 God decreed permissively will certainly be done, but in doing them

 men are giving expression to their own inherent depravity.  "Surely the

 wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou

 restrain" (#Ps 76:10).  The good deeds of men are decreed efficiently,

 which means that God works in them "For it is God which worketh in

 you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (#Php 2:13).


            "Careless seems the great avenger;

               History's pages but record

            One death grapple in the darkness,

               Twixt old systems and the Word.

            Truth forever on the scaffold;

               Wrong forever on the throne;

            But that scaffold sways the Future;

               And, behind the dim unknown

            Standeth God, within the shadow,

               Keeping watch above His own."






    The decrees of God belong to His secret will; the commands of

 God belong to His revealed will. "The secret things belong unto the

 LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us

 and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law"

 (#De 29:29).  God's secret will is the rule of His actions; His revealed

 will is the rule of our actions. God's secret will embraces all things; His

 revealed will embraces all we ought to do.  The secret will of God is

 His program, according to which all things come to pass; His revealed

 will gives us our program according to which we are to work.


    The decrees of God are not addressed to men, and have nothing

 to do with human responsibility.  It may be that God has decreed a

 poor crop year, but that is no reason for failure to plant and cultivate.

 God may have decreed a famine, but that does not justify idleness.

 God may have decreed the death of the writer this year, but that does

 not keep him from regarding the laws of health and safety.  God

 decreed the death of His Son, but that did not make it the duty of men

 to crucify Him.




    God's decrees determine the free actions of men, that is, the

 decree makes their actions certain but not a necessity.  God's decrees

 are not executed by compelling man's will, therefore they are not

 inconsistent with man's freedom. "For of a truth against thy holy child

 Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with

 the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to

 do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be

 done" (#Ac 4:27,28). God's decree made the death of Christ certain,

 but it laid no necessity upon any man.  None of the men were

 compelled to do the foul deed.  In crucifying the Lord of glory they

 were giving free expression to their thoughts and feelings toward Him.

 They were fulfilling the Scriptures, and executing God's eternal

 purpose, without knowing it: "Which none of the princes of this world

 knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of

 glory" (#1Co 2:8).  "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have

 chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread

 with me hath lifted up his heel against me" (#Joh 13:18).  "But they

 cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith

 unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We

 have no king but Caesar" (#Joh 19:15).




    If God has any purpose concerning the happenings of the

 universe it must, of necessity, be eternal.  To deny this is to suppose

 some unforeseen event that made it necessary for God to change His

 purpose.  All of God's purposes were formed in wisdom, and since he

 has power to execute them, there is no reason for any change. "Known

 unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world" (#Ac 15:18).

 "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there

 is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end

 from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet

 done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:"

 (#Isa 46:9,10).




    It magnifies God in His wisdom, power, and sovereignty.  It puts

 Him on the throne where He should be and is ever and always.  There

 are no crises with God, no perplexing problems to ponder, no forces

 beyond His control.  He moves with majestic step toward the

 consummation of His eternal purpose in Christ to the praise of His



    The believer is humbled at the sight of such a great God, and his

 soul is bowed in adoring wonder and worship.  It will save the believer

 from undue familiarity with God in prayer and other acts of devotion.

 Some men pray as if God were on their level; to them He is not the

 August Being the Scriptures represent Him to be.  Much of the poetry

 and other literature coming out of this war is too irreverent and merely

 represents God as a sort of comrade in arms.  But the Scriptures say

 that "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to

 be had in reverence of all them that are about him" (#Ps 89:7).


    "This doctrine is one of those advanced teachings of Scripture

 which requires for its understanding a matured mind and a deep

 experience.  The beginner in the Christian life may not see its value or

 even its truth, but with increasing years it will become a staff to lean

 upon.  In times of affliction, obloquy, and persecution, the church has

 found in the decrees of God, and in the prophecies in which these

 decrees are published, her strong consolation.  It is only upon the basis

 of the decrees that we can believe: "And we know that all things work

 together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called

 according to his purpose" (#Ro 8:28) or pray: "Thy kingdom come.

 Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (#Mt 6:10)." A. H.