12. God’s Plan

God’s Decree

God’s Will Will (What God Does)

“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! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Rom.11:33-36).

God’s judgments cannot be searched out. You could study or look forever but you will never understand them. They are unfathomable you can never reach the bottom. Some men become nervous, annoyed or confused because they cannot understand something. We do not and will not understand every thing in the world, the universe or man, and we will not understand everything in the plan of God. When it comes to the mind of God we often have to trust Him for what He say, does or allows. Our doubts and struggles give way to faith when we realise our little world is in the control of the almighty God. (Isa. 55:8-9).

This new section deals with what What God Does. Where is history going to? What if anything is causing the pattern of history to develop as it is? What is it all about? Why does it exist? Who is in control of the universe? All these questions affect our lives. The Christian believes God has a plan and He is in control of everything and has a reason for everything. True Christians believe nothing happens by chance nor that creation is a series of haphazard events but is God’s concepts, design and will that He put into action

God’s plan stresses unity of intention, that is, He wills it and it emphasizes the intelligent dimensions of God’s decisions. He made the plans, He has the blue prints, He makes the rules.

God’s Plan

God has a plan from eternity past. It is running percisly as God arranged it. The world is not out of control, spinning wildly through space or some accident that happened. It is not random chance or fate or Oriential Fatalism (what will be will be) but an all wise God working to an end result to bring everything under the the dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-11).

His plan is called “the divine” purpose or “divine decree” (Eph.1:11) and it is “according to his own good pleasure”. It is perfect because He is perfect. It is good – because He is good – it is unchangeable because he never changes, He is faithful and dependable. We do not always know it ahead of time but mostly after it has happened. God holds the future in His control and we know our future is safe in Him no matter what happens to us in time. One of our great problems we have is that we think horizontally and every thing must go according to what we can know. You did not know ten years ago what you are doing right now and you will not know exactly what you will be doing ten years form now. We think inside the box of the universe He is outside it. He is infinite we are finite. We question what he does and what he allows. The reason for this is that we are limited to time and space. His plan is running it course, nothing is left out or confused. His plan cannot be frustrated. For us the future is uncertain and unpredictable but He knows what will happen. He knows the end from the beginning. He has a plan for the world, it is not out of control He rules from the heavens and includes the failures and mess that man creates. “Our God is in the heavens; He does what ever He pleases” (Psalm 115:3). He planned our solar system, the summer, the autumn, the winter and the springtime. Nothing will go out of its course unless he permits it. It is always in complete harmony. God has a plan for Israel, for the nations, for the Church, for individuals, for you and me. “I am the Lord, and there is no other; The One forming light and creating darkness; Causing well-being and calamity; I am the Lord who does these things” (Isa. 45:6-7). He is not sitting biting his nails wondering what will happen next. Since you cannot see all his plan, and may get confused as to why things happen or become anxious about the ozone lair or the state of the world or wonder why bad things happen to good people, you may conclude He has not got control. God wants us to know he is the potter and we are the clay and have not got the right to question him (Isa. 45:9-13). God is in charge, not us!

The Eternal Decrees of God

1. Definition. The Divine decrees refer to the many facets of what is really one decree, plan and purpose of God’s in which he has foreordained all things that come to pass. This is in order that we may understand the decree because of our human limitations. It is absolute, unchangeable, eternal, holy, wise and unconditional.

2. It is his sovereign choice, purposes and for His pleasure and glory. “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, And I will do My good pleasure” (Isa. 46:10). “…having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself” (Eph.1:9). It was for His own will glory and pleasure that He spoke space, the galaxies, earth and man kind into being. He does not depend upon us for His pleasure or His glory. He had all the glory possible and He expresses it in us and to us. We are part of His glory. “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16). We should do all to His glory, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:3) The whole earth is full of His glory and He will not let any one take the glory (Num. 14:21; Isa. 6:2-3; Isa. 48:11). It is chronological and geographical and his glory is spread throughout the whole earth. He is glorified now in heaven by angels and saints (Rev.4:11). When God’s people praise and worship Him they are acknowledging His glory. We do not add anything to Him or improve Him. Christ refers to His glory, the cross, “…before the world was” in the eternal plan was now accomplished in time (John 17:5; 1 Pet. 1:18-20). The atonement of Christ was in the eternal decrees of God (Acts 2:23; Rev. 5:6).

3. God simultaneously comprehended all things that ever were or ever would be. “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You “ Ps:2:7. “He also established them forever and ever, He made a decree which shall not pass away” Ps. 148:6. It covers past, present and future. He comprehended every event, their causes courses, effects, conditions, successions and their interaction with other events, including every decision we would ever make and determines their future. He works it all out to our good. “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom.8: 28). He works in believer’s lives to make them to be conformed to the image of his Son.

4. The Omniscience of God expresses the source of these decrees. He decided what would take place in the angelic realm, human realm and in creation. He knew everything that would happen in history. His eternal unchanging will regarding future events will happen regarding the precise order and manner of their occurrence. No wars, catastrophes or deaths take place without him knowing about it. We are limited and only see part of what happens in time and we should therefore not jump to a conclusion about the events of history. He is never taken by surprise nor is he ever shocked about mans cruelties to man or the failure of an individual Christian. His plan includes His manner and method of working. It is one decree but from a human viewpoint it is plural, decrees. This is a difficult subject because we are dealing with the mind of the Eternal. Even though it is infinite and beyond our understanding since it is in scripture and important we must try and understand it. We must take the whole Bible and look at it not just parts. It includes many details of God’s decisions and work and is a deep subject. It covers all the works of God in creation and redemption, and also embraces the actions of men, not excluding their sinful deeds. It included the entrance of sin into the world but it does not make God responsible for our sinful deeds. His decree with respect to sin is a permissive decree. He does not change His plans, actions or nature.

God’s Predestination- Men and Angels Free Will

Predestination applies to believers only, 2 Pet. 3:9 “The Lord is not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Predestination has absolutely nothing to do with going to hell. In the Word of God, predestination is never related to that in any way whatsoever. God is not going to predestine anyone to Hell since He is not willing for anyone to perish! To think of predestination in those terms is completely unbiblical. Predestination has to do only with believers. It simply tells us that God has selected before hand the goal toward which he is going to move every one of us who believes in Christ. That goal is conformity to the character of Christ. Everything that happens to us focuses on that one supreme purpose. Gods primary concern is for our character. God’s intention for is to be like Jesus. In heaven we all have his character. But we will all have different personalities. But we will all have the same, basic, fundamental character: loving, gracious, gentle, wholesome, helpful, compassionate. God knew that some angels would revolt, therefore in the same instant He decreed to create angels and man with free will.

Antimony. The word antinomy (not antimony) means two truths, which are given but cannot be reconciled. I.e. The election of God and the free will of man. “All human beings are free agents in the sense that they make their own decisions as to what they will do, choosing as they please in the light of their sense of right and wrong and the inclinations they feel. They are moral agents answerable to God and each other for their voluntary choices” (J. I. Packer “Concise Theology” Page 85). However man will not choose God way but go his own way. We are in bondage to sin and only grace can free us from that slavery (Rom. 6:16-23). It is a mystery to understand all this but the following illustration may help. Take the illustration of two men, one inside St. Paul’s Cathedral and the other above it in a helicopter, talking to one another on a mobile phone. The one on the inside says it is concave (bowl right side up) and the one on the outside says it is convex (turned upside down). They are both right. Or two rails on a railway track that never meets although they have the same destination, the station. It is the same as some of the great truths concerning the decrees of God; they meet in heaven, out of our view. God is never the cause of sin (James 1:13, Hab. 1:13). Man is totally responsible for his actions he cannot blame his sin on God, on society or on someone else, its his own choice and he will give an account to God for it. Man’s sin is an exercise of his own freedom. Man is free to act on his moral impulses and desires. Some people believe, by virtue of his foreknowledge he knows what will influence individual choices, and by virtue of his omnipotence he controls those factors God will ultimately reconcile all things. The Potter has control of the clay (Rom. 9:20-23).

a). From eternity God has an unchangeable plan for His creatures. He decided to have a point for creation and He decided to have a finishing point for it. In between we have time or history. His plan was from “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). The plan of God is also unchangeable, because He is faithful and true, (Job 28:13, 14; Isa. 46:10; Luke 22:22.) “Our God is in heaven he does what the pleases” (Ps. 115:3). As Dr. M.L. Jones says, “He never had an after thought and changed His plan because he had change of mind or forgot something. This means there is nothing accidental, haphazard or uncertain. God has a definite plan and purpose about creation. About men and women, about salvation, about the whole of life in this world, about the end of it all, about ultimate destiny” “Great Doctrines series page 96).

Chance is not a scriptural concept. “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord” (Prov. 16:33). From mans viewpoint it looks like chance but from God’s “the disposing thereof is of the Lord” He disposes (chooses) the result. “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one shall not fall to the ground without your Father.” (Matt, 10:29). Even the hairs of your head are numbered (Vs 30). “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Prov. 21:1). “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” (Isa. 46:10). Eph. 1:11. “In whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of Him who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph.2:11). God knows the exact time of our birth and death, the colour of your hair, our gender, everything about us (Psa. 139). God has a plan for your life.

b). The decree of God is founded in wisdom, Eph. 3:9-11, though we do not always understand it. It includes everything that that comes to pass, Isa. 46:10.

c). All God’s decrees are unconditional and sovereign. They do not depend on any action of man. (Acts 2:23; Eph. 2:8). They depend totally upon his own will. Free actions, cause and effect are part of the decree of God. Nothing can stop God or his actions, not the inhabitants of the earth or the armies of heaven (Dan. 4:35). Having predestined us unto adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1:5). God has mercy on whomsoever he will (Rom. 9:15-18).

d). It is all-inclusive. It embraces the good and the wicked actions of men. God decreed the creation of all mankind with free will. He determines the beginning and the end of everything, including the beginning of the world and the end and everything in between. Peter said, “Him, (Jesus) being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain (Acts 2:23). “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Joseph’s brothers meant to do him harm but God had included this in his plan. “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50:20). Speaking of the duration of man’s life, “Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass” (Job 14:5) “My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, And from those who persecute me. My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15). “Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am. (Ps. 39:4). He has determined the nations and their boundaries. “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings” Acts 17:26). With respect to sin it is permissive. It permits mans free will and actions. “The kings heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turns it wherever He wills” (Prov. 21:1). “For it is god that works in you to do his own good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13 c.f. Eph.2: 10). God’s Plan Cannot fail. This is because of His omnipotence, he is almighty and cannot fail.

2. Predestination. Predestination is the plan or purpose of God respecting His moral creatures. It pertains to men, both good and bad, to angels and devils, and to Christ as the Mediator. Predestination includes two parts, namely, election and reprobation. We do not know who will be saved that why we preach to every one. Those who believe share the destiny of Christ. Predestination also means that the believer was in the Plan of God in eternity past. (Eph. 1:1-6). In eternity past, before any of us were alive, God knew all about everyone of us. He knew that we would believe in Christ and has given us a destiny. We will have a glorified body and live with him forever. (Rom. 8:28-32). Predestination applies to believers only, 2 Pet. 3:9 “The Lord is not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”. God does not predestine men to go to hell they are going there because of their own choice (Jn. 3:18, 36). He is not willing for anyone to perish. Believers were also on their way to hell but God chose to save them. Some believe Predestination applies to believers only, 2 Pet. 3:9 “The Lord is not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”. God is not going to predestine anyone to Hell since He is not willing for anyone to perish!

3. Free Will. The sovereignty of God and the free will of man are real. God decreed the creation of all mankind with free will. God decreed to permit the fall of mankind through his own will and determination. Man is responsible for his actins including his choice. God knew Adam and Eve would sin and have repercussions throughout history but still decreed Adam and his wife would have free will. But He also decreed wonderful provision for them in sending a redeemer. Never in any way did He coerce their freedom of choice. He did not stop Satan from tempting the women or the woman making her choice. Joseph’s brothers would sin, Pharaoh would sin and so He would bring good from evil ( Gen. 45:7-8, 50:30; Rom.9:22-23). There are good consequences and bad consequences to our choice. Mankind is responsible and accountable for his choices and his actions. This means that unbelievers who go to hell because of their own choice and cannot blame God (Jn. 3:18-19). Hyper Calvinists do not see man as having a free choice on the other had Armenians distort the word of God claiming mans free will is beyond God’s control, that man can cause things to happen that are not in the divine decrees. This is wrong. One is extremely against mans free will and the other totally for it. God holds each individual accountable. “But they shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1 Pet. 4:5). “So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Rom 12:14). When a person has faith in Christ for salvation it is a non-meritorious act. (Eph. 2:8-9). At that point he gave the believer every thing he needed “He has given us all things pertaining to eternal life” (Peter). He has supplied every thing you need to help you solve problems of life, this help you choose who to marry, what to believe, who you should associate with, how to have good norms and standards. God does not force you to make decisions He does provide guidelines for us in the Bible. God does not coerce our free will. God created man with free will, and the fact that man can go contrary to the will of God proves the existence of free will. to which the Scriptures refer by various designations.

Limitation to Human Freedom.

You did not choose your genes, select your parents, where or when you would be born or your culture. Your freedom is within these limitations, God chose them (Psalm 139). He has influenced the type of person you are now and is in control of all the circumstance s of your life. He is active in your life as a believer, and influences what takes place without cohering you. He overrules you bad and poor decisions it does not affect His sovereignty. This is where His providence comes greatly into play.

4. Election. Ekloge is the Greek word and means to be divinely selected! Election, foreknowledge and predestination are related to the believer. There are three kinds of election.

(1) The election of Israel as the Old Testament people of God. “And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power” (Deut. 4:37, c.f. 7:6-8; 10:15; Hos.13:5).

(2) The election of persons to some special once or service, “For the Lord your God has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand to minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons forever” (Deut. 18:5). “And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?” So all the people shouted and said, “Long live the king!” (1 Sam. 10:24). “He also chose David His servant, And took him from the sheepfolds” (Ps. 78:70).

(3) The election of individuals unto salvation, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 22:14). “..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” (Eph. 1:4). “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13). Election means that God provided a plan for each believer and all that is necessary to fulfil it. He can do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20) Election is more than foreknowledge and predestination, is motivation for the Christian life! Some see election as being only when a person is created and therefore not elect from eternity.

5. Reprobation. All will not be saved. (Matt. 11:25, 26; Rom. 9:13, 17, 18, 21, 22; 11:7, 8; 2 Pet. 2:9; Jude 4.) Reprobation may be defined as God’s eternal purpose to pass some men by with the operation of His special grace, and to punish them for their sin. It really embodies a twofold purpose therefore: (1) to pass some by in the bestowal of saving grace; and (2) to punish them for their sins. God decreed to leave the reprobate (those who reject Christ as Saviour) to their just condemnation. Man is already condemned (John 3:18, 36) God desires to bring them into the place were they are not condemned (Rom. 8:1) but man is responsible for his own decisions regarding Christ. God would have been perfectly just, if He had not saved any, Matt. 20:14, 15; Rom. 9:14, 15.

6. God’s Will

a) His Direct Will. This is sovereign and unchangeable. “It is absolute, unchangeable, unconditional and in complete harmony with His plan and his nature.” (Chuck Swindoll- The Mystery of God’s Will). Because of His nature it is good, righteous and just. It even includes the numbers of months and days we live, the number of hairs on our head, the death of a small sparrow. (Job. 14:1,5) “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.” Matt. 10:29. This includes the bad news you hear form the doctor concerning your heath, the joy of hearing your are going to have that baby you have been trying for. That accident he has permitted. At such times as this His plan is a mystery and hard to understand, actually we may never understand it here on earth. However He lets us know He cares and will be with us as we pass though the storms of life. God has established the course for this world and His plan for humanity.

b) Even when Jesus died on the Cross was it was part of God’s direct will. (Acts 2:22-24; 4:27-31). Jesus was born at the exact time and place “in the fullness of the times (Gal.4: 4). The followers of Christ may have been confused about what God was doing but they knew later when he arose form the dead. Jesus came to die, that is why he said, “It is finished.” God’s plan of redemption was accomplished by the means and time He determined it. The people involved in crucifying him were not conscious they were carrying out God’s will. God guides the ways of men, and often outside their consciousness of that guidance (Gen 50:20; Ps 76:10; Isa 10:5; Acts 4:28). What God decides happens. His purposes cannot be defeated or changed.

b) His Permissive Will. This is what God allows. Sin is the permissive will of God. God permits the freedom of man and certain events in history. I.e. He permits Satan to tempt believers. Job said “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted…Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:1-3). He permits believers to be tempted but he can tempt no man. He permits believers to become ill and die. He permits believers to sin. He permits unbelievers to crucify his Son, he ordained governments (Rom. 13:1-3). He permits calamity, tornados, storms, floods, catastrophies, wars, (Isa. 45:5-7). We know these came as a result of the Fall of Man but we do not know all there reasons He permits them but they certainly gets man’s attention. This is another of His unreachable things. We can waste our time trying to explain it instead of accepting He has included it in His mysterious will. It may not be logical to us, we may not understand it, it may seem unfair, but we are not to come to any fast conclusion, all the evidence is not in yet. He is the Maker (Isa. 45:9, 12-13).

c) God’s wish. “The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any would perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). He wishes that none would perish but knows some never will. Paul used all legitimate means to save some ( 1 Cor. 9:19-22).

d) His Overruling Will. God overrules all the wrong decision and brings everything to his ordained purpose. For example, Gods direct will was to create Adam, his permissive will was to let him sin, his overruling will was that he had a plan to redeem him, his ultimate will was to make him a new creation in Christ. God makews all things work together for good (Rom.8:28-29).

e) God’s Ultimate Will. He will bring all things under subjection to himself.

7. Foreknowledge. Proginosko is the Greek word, which means to know before hand. He knows what is going to happen. Foreknowledge does not make things happen but perceives what is certain to occur.

8. Divine Providence. Providence comes form the Latin word providnetios “foresight, precaution” pro= ahead and videre “to see.” It’s the invisible hand of god in history by which he guides all things. He is the divine mover of all things. In his omniscience he has “knowledge of the future.” God created and sovereignty superintends and guides all he has created. He is the agent over all events in people s lives though history. God has already determined is based on our limited understanding of God’s perfection and the delusion that God’s purposes can be circumvented. In this mode of thought, providence is related to predestination.

Limited Atonement. God decreed to provide eternal salvation for all mankind. God is fair and no respecter of persons and provides for all but all will not respond to His free offer of grace. God doesn’t arbitrarily assign creatures to Hell. Unlimited atonement is the demonstration that the sovereignty of God desires that no one should perish. Yet human volition can and does reject the saving work of Christ on the Cross. Therefore, the alternative is the Lake of Fire. Unlimited atonement means that all sins in human history were imputed to Jesus Christ on the cross and judged, so that Christ is the issue and not sins (2 Co 5:14-15, 19; 1 Tim. 2:6, 4:10; Tit 2:11; Heb 2:9; 2Pe 2:1; 1 John 2:2).