The Decretive Will of God

The decretive will of God is the mysterious mechanism that keeps the clock of the Sevenfold Will of God ticking, for “the decretive will of God determines present-day events, yea even to the preservation of little birds and the hairs upon your head.” (Tow, c.f. Matthew 10:29-30) All things that occur in this world are under the sovereign decrees of the Lord God Almighty.

What then are the decrees of God? The Westminster Shorter Catechism gives us a good definition – “The decrees of God are His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His own will, whereby for His own glory, He hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.” (Answer to Question 7) Thus the decrees of God never had a beginning. They are eternal and unchangeable, just as God is eternal and unchangeable.

God’s Decretive Will in Salvation

The Bible tells us that those who are saints are chosen by God even before the foundation of the world. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” (Ephesians 1:3-5)

No man can believe in Christ if he was not predestined or chosen by God the Father. Moreover, the Bible teaches us that we are chosen unto salvation not because of any inherent merit, but simply because God set His divine love upon us. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Those whom God have chosen He will surely draw unto Himself, and they will be granted faith to believe in Christ and His Word unto salvation. When Paul preached at Antioch, the Scriptures declared that “as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48) John 6:44 says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Indeed, salvation is of the LORD! (Jonah 2:9) Under-standing the decretive will of God in our salvation should thus humble us so that we will not take our salvation for granted.

God’s Decretive Will in Reprobation 

Do then the reprobates fall under the decretive will of God? Very much so! Consider Jude 4 – “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” The reprobates are also predestined by God unto destruction and perdition.

Is God unfair to do so? This question was anticipated by the Apostle Paul in Romans 9:19 – “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?” Herein is Paul’s answer – “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (Romans 9:20-21)

In understanding the doctrine of reprobation, one has to know that God is not the author of sin, and man is fully responsible for his sin. Consider the case of Judas Iscariot in Mark 14:21 – “The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is writ-ten of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.” While it is decreed that Judah should betray Christ, yet he must bear full human responsibility for his betrayal. This is because the treachery stemmed from Judas’ wicked heart.

In order to aid believers to understand this issue, Rev. Timothy Tow would often cite “The Banana Skin Story” which is also frequently cited in the schools of law. If I invite you to a party and on your way there, you tripped on a banana skin and broke your kneecap, who is to be blamed? Surely you are not able to sue me in court. The case would be thrown you would have to bear full responsibility for your injury. It is your own carelessness that led you to be in this state.

Buswell summarises this conundrum concerning reprobation brilliantly, “The Scripture is equally clear that the chargeable cause of the loss of the lost is in the lost.”

The Decretive Will Pertaining to Service

God has not only decreed His saints to be saved before the foundation of the world, but He has also chosen and appointed them to various areas of service for His glory. This can be seen in God’s call to Jeremiah to be His prophet –“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

When we serve the Lord Jesus Christ, these areas of service are predetermined and appointed by God. God is also the One who determines which spiritual gifts to bestow unto us in order that we may use them for His glory. What a wonderful privilege! Dare we then be slack in our service to God? Let us then gird up our loins, and serve God with all our might, redeeming the time for the days are evil.

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew