Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Properties of God’s Decrees Explained

by Thomas Boston

1. They are eternal. God makes no decrees in time, but they were all from eternity. So the decree of election is said to have been “before the foundation of the world,” Eph. 1:4, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” Indeed, whatever he does in time, was decreed by him, seeing it was known to him before time, Acts 15:18, “Known to God from eternity are all His works.” And this foreknowledge is founded on the decree. If the divine decrees were not eternal, God would not be most perfect and unchangeable. Weak like man, he would have to change his plans and would be unable to tell every thing that would to come to pass.

2. They are most wise, “according to the counsel of his will.” God cannot properly deliberate or take counsel, as men do; for he sees all things together and at once. And thus his decrees are made with perfect judgment, and laid in the depth of wisdom, Rom 11:33, “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!” So that nothing is determined that could have been better determined.

3. They are most free, according to the counsel of his own will; depending on no other, but all flowing from the mere pleasure of his own will, Rom 11:34, “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” Whatsoever he decrees to work outside of himself is from his free choice. So his decrees are all absolute, and there are none of them conditional. He has made no decrees suspended on any condition outside himself. Neither has he decreed any thing because he saw it would come to pass, or as that which would come to pass on such or such conditions; for then they should be no more according to the counsel of his will, but the creature’s will.

God’s decrees being eternal, they cannot depend upon a condition which is temporal. They are the determinate counsels of God, but a conditional decree determines nothing. Such conditional decrees are inconsistent with the infinite wisdom of God, and are in men only the effects of weakness; and they are inconsistent with the independence of God, making them depend on the creature.

4. They are unchangeable. They are the unalterable laws of heaven. God’s decrees are constant; and he by no means alters his purpose, as men do. Psalm 33:11, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations.” Hence they are compared to mountains of brass, Zech. 6:1. As nothing can escape his first view, so nothing can be added to his knowledge. Hence Balaam said, “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Num 23:19. The decree of election is irreversible: “The solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” 2 Tim 2:19

5. They are most holy and pure. For as the sun darts its beams upon a dunghill, and yet is no way defiled by it; so God decrees the permission of sin, yet is not the author of sin: 1 John 1:5. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” James 1:13, “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone,” and verse 17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

6. They are effective; that is, whatsoever God decrees, comes to pass infallibly, Isa 46:10 “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” He cannot fall short of what he has determined. Yet the liberty of second causes is not hereby taken away; for the decree of God offers no violence to the creature’s will; as appears from the free and unforced actions of Joseph’s brethren, Pharaoh, the Jews that crucified Christ, etc. Nor does it take away the contingency of second causes, either in themselves or as to us, as appears by the lot cast into the lap. Nay, they are thereby established, because he hath efficaciously foreordained that such effects shall follow on such causes.


Is preaching enough?

 In the church today, it seems that most people think you have to have more than just the preaching of the Word. We have many programs today to fit all our “needs” and groups that  fit the different fads that are out there. But what has happened to just the preaching of the Word? We need to understand that that is all we need! Today, we tend to look for numbers and not revivel. But the preaching of the Word of God will bring about true revivel. We see this in Acts.2:37-41, ” 37Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ 38And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’ 40And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ 41So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” It was after the preaching of the Word that the people were cut to the heart. We see this again in Acts.2:42, “42And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” We see that after they came to Christ they kept to the teaching of the Word, and the Lord was adding to them those who were being saved. Again in Acts.10:42-45, “42And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. 44While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.” The Jewish Christians were amazed that the non-Jew could come to faith in Christ, but they witnessed that it was through the preaching of the Word they had believed. Paul states in Rom.10:14-15, “14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ ”  We can see that God uses the preaching of His Word to save souls and grow believers! This is His way and not ours. So preaching is enough! And if we have numbers without good strong preaching, we need to look and see if the numbers are true or not. What we want to see is true revivel, no matter what the numbers look like; that comes from God!

The Divine Light

An extract from a sermon by Jonathan Edwards. (For the complete sermon, follow the link below.)

A sense of the beauty of Christ is the beginning of true saving faith in the life of a true convert. This is quite different from any vague feeling that Christ loves him or died for him. These sort of fuzzy feelings can cause a sort of love and joy, because the person feels a gratitude for escaping the punishment of their sin. In actual fact, these feelings are based on self-love, and not on a love for Christ at all. It is a sad thing that so many people are deluded by this false faith. On the other hand, a glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ causes in the heart a supreme genuine love for God. This is because the divine light shows the excellent loveliness of God’s nature. A love based on this is far, far above anything coming from self-love, which demons can have as well as men. The true love of God which comes from this sight of His beauty causes a spiritual and holy joy in the soul; a joy in God, and exulting in Him. There is no rejoicing in ourselves, but rather in God alone.

The sight of the beauty of divine things will cause true desires after the things of God. These desires are different from the longings of demons, which happen because the demons know their doom awaits them, and they wish it could somehow be otherwise. The desires that come from this sight of Christ’s beauty are natural free desires, like a baby desiring milk. Because these desires are so different from their counterfeits, they help to distinguish genuine experiences of God’s grace from the false.