Q. 10: What are the decrees of God?
Answer: The decrees of God are His eternal purpose according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, He has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.
Scripture: Eph. 1:4,11; Rom. 9:22-24; Gen. 5:20; Prov. 19:21; Isa. 46:9-11; Lam. 3:37-38
Comment: This truth, as evidenced from the Scriptures given (and many others), speaks to God’s sovereignty over all of creation, working out the affairs of history according to His plan and for the accomplishment of His purposes. This, however, is in complete agreement with the free agency and responsibility of mankind. All of Scripture bears these things out – God is in control and will accomplish His purposes, and man makes real choices and bears their consequences, whether good or bad. Even sinful actions are according to God’s plan, and yet God cannot be said to be the author of sin, for those who engage in the sin do so willingly, not by force (this is known as “secondary means or causes” and compatiblism). Perhaps the most striking and significant example of this is the crucifixion of Jesus. It was according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, and yet those who wanted and had Jesus crucified are still held accountable for this sin of condemning the righteous and holy One to death (see Acts 2:23; 3:13-19; 4:24-28). Although there exists a degree of mystery to these things, the presence of mystery is no reason to deny or question what is so plainly revealed in the Scriptures. In the end, we must simply give all glory and the benefit of any doubt to the all-wise and all-good God.
 Sam Waldron, in his A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith [Chapter 3, Of God’s Decrees], provides sound words on the care we must take with the biblical testimony of God’s decrees:
“The Confession affirms both the absolute sovereignty of God and the reality of human freedom. Deny or mitigate either truth and Calvinistic Christianity will wither and die. Thus there are two rationalistic extremes which will kill biblical Calvinism wherever they arise.
- There is the minimizing or denial of the reality of human freedom in the interests of preserving the sovereignty of God. This will lead to a rigid hyper-Calvinism and, so to speak, freeze the water of life.
- There is the minimizing of God’s sovereignty to preserve human freedom. This will lead to Arminianism and to the ‘evaporation’ of the water of life.
The common assumption of both extremes is that somehow divine sovereignty and human freedom are inconsistent and mutually exclusive principles [which they are not]…. This surely is the biblical truth of the matter. The lesson is to avoid the rationalistic alternatives of Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism and subject our minds to the clear teaching of the Word of God.” [65-66]