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About Doctrines

God's Counsel, Decree, Will and Plan

The Will of God, His decree and Purpose all may be viewed as representing the same thing.  The counsels of God are His plan for the universe and plan, His plan for time, space, and matter.

Ephesians 1:11 emphasizes the single decree which exists.  This decree covers “all things” – all of time, space, and matter.

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will NKJV

Ephesians 1:4 makes it clear and plain that this decree or plan was formed in eternity prior to the creation of time, space, and matter.  It is clear, however, from this same verse, that this plan is manifest in time.  This plan includes the believer’s salvation and calling.

2 Timothy 1:9
who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began

Since God is all-knowing and all-wise, His plan and decree are wise.  God knows best about all things.  But, the plan is hard to understand.

Romans 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” 35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

God’s decree is developed in His sovereign will.  God does as He pleases. 

Daniel 4:35
All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?” NKJV

There are two parts to God’s decree:

When all is said and done, God’s decree assures that He controls and guides all the events of history for His glory and for our good. 

Psalm 104:24
O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. NLT

Proverbs 3:19
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens NKJV

This "fitting together" of good and evil to the benefit of God's people is the work of God's Providence.

This is the purpose of the decree, to bring glory to God.  The purpose is to "the praise of the glory of his grace" (Eph 1:6 NET).

Yet, through all of this, man remains personally responsible for his own sinful actions.  God is sovereign and controls all things, but in this sovereignty He allows man the freedom to choose.  For example, Jesus was predetermined to die on the Cross, but Peter makes it clear that the people were responsible for killing Christ.

Acts 2:23
this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. NASB

Since God is in control, the decree cannot be fatalistic.  The decree involves the means for its accomplishment, not just the accomplishment itself.  While the decree involves electing certain persons to salvation, no one is saved apart from evangelism and his own personal actions in calling upon the name of the Jesus in true faith.

Acts 16:31
They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” NASB

If this is true, how does one learn the Will of God for his own life?  How do we know when we are walking in God’s path?  There are three parts to this answer.

First, we must learn God’s Word.  His Will for our lives is contained in His revealed Word.

Second, the church must help us determine how the teachings of Scripture are applied in this day and age.  Many of the teachings of Scripture may seem strange and unfamiliar because of the changes in historical settings.  Time and space have changed.  The church helps us to understand this application.

Third, there is a mysterious element that cannot be explained.  We need God’s direct guidance at certain points in our lives.  In the Old Testament, God provided the Urim and Thummin to the High Priest (Exodus 28:30).  Today, God still works in this mysterious fashion by speaking to us in a still small voice, by verifying His direction through others, by the counsel of Christian leaders, and via other similar means.

This is why daily prayer and devotions are so important.  It helps us to tune into this mysterious side of God and learn His will for our lives in a particular set of circumstances.




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