I’ve had more than one glass of wine ruined by an Arminian. I suppose I’ve messed up a few of theirs, too. Well, it happened again tonight. A week or two ago, I posted an article on how one variety of Arminian thought damages the doctrine of God by making him dependent upon creation for his knowledge. That post got mixed reviews, generating various discussions. I hope both the article and the ensuing discussion were edifying to the brethren. I want to continue that discussion by parsing a classic statement of God’s eternal decrees. I hope to lay it out so that it can be better understood, and I hope to show that it’s biblical.
WSC Q. 7. What are the decrees of God?
A. 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.
Point by point: The decree of God is (yes, I switched it to the singular), his eternal purpose – God’s purpose from eternity. This means God has himself purposed, and that he’s done so before (so to speak) anybody or anything else was around. It’s HIS purpose from eternity. God affirms such, saying, “I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose'” (Is 46:9c-10). He declares the end from the beginning and accomplishes his purpose. Easy.
God’s eternal decree is, his eternal purpose, according to counsel of his will – God don’t march to the beat of anyone else’s drum. He doesn’t do what we want, nor does he do what Satan wants. God does what HE wants… that’s, like, what it is to be God. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Ps 115:3). All. That. He. Pleases.
God’s eternal decree is, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory – here’s a point that needs emphasis. I’ll get at it by way of question: Is God ever more or less glorified? Can God’s glory be increased or decreased? The answer is a resounding ABSOLUTELY NOT! May it never be! God is infinite and unchangeable in his glory. He is absolutely and eternally glorified. That cannot and will not be changed – ever. Thus, creation merely reflects the glory of God, and that in varying degrees. That puts an end to the foolishness that God needs us for his glory. He needs nothing outside of himself; he’s a se – from himself – entirely self-sufficient. One more thing: God’s glorified in everything, even the things that are horrible and sinful. He demonstrates and shines his glory on all things, even if only in judgement and condemnation (Rom 9:22-23). Paul has all of this in view when he writes, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom 11:36).
Alright, here’s the kicker: “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.” Hath God really foreordained whatsoever comes to pass? First, what’s meant by “foreordained”? It means to determine or appoint beforehand. In this context, it means that God has determined beforehand, not based upon anything outside himself, but based upon his own will. So, what has he determined beforehand? Some things? The important things? The “spiritual” things? The good things, but not the evil ones? Negative, Ghost Rider, that pattern is full. God has predetermined every single little thing that comes to pass. Everything. Nothing is excluded; all are included. Got that? Good. But does the Bible really teach that? “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph 1:11). God works how many things according to the counsel of his will? All things.
Calvinism is merely consistent theism.