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.
There is probably no more contentious a subject within the church today than the sovereignty of God. Over what is He sovereign? We must answer, “everything.” Some try to nuance their arguments against this total sovereignty by talking about what God could do versus what He does do, as in: the sovereign God of the universe could make His grace irresistible, but chooses not to do so, so that man can choose.
The problem with this idea is that it runs counter to Scripture (Ephesians 1-2, Romans 1-3). We are all of us dead men, who will never reach out for a Savior absent His grabbing hold of us. As at our natural births, a metaphor both Jesus and Paul use: we are intimately involved, yes, but not the catalyst in any way. We are brought to life from death, we are born again, we are chosen from before the foundation of the world.
Does this mean God decides who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell?
In whose hands would you rather this decision was? Your own? Read once more Psalm 14, 53 and Romans 2 (which quotes them both). Left to your own devices, you would choose Hell. Everybody, every time. Have you read the story of God’s covenant people from the beginning? The tragedy is heart-breaking and breath-taking. Five weeks after crossing the Red Sea God’s people are accusing Him of sin. That’s the people we are without the Holy Spirit. No, you don’t want salvation in the hands of any man. I sure don’t. I know where my hands have been.
He also, incidentally, decided when and where in the vastness of time and space you would be born, what your interests would be, what your inclinations would be, what your taste buds would find yummy. He determined your parents, when and if you hear the Gospel, if you are living now and if you’ll be alive in five minutes. The moment of your birth and the moment of your death are HIs to decree. And yet we tend to get caught up on the salvation thing.
When we say God is sovereign, we do take special joy in His sovereignty over salvation, yes.
But we mean much, much more: it (Creation) is all His, to do with as He pleases. He created it, and He sustains it, and not one atom (or whatever we’ve discovered that’s smaller, nowadays) has ever done anything other than at His sufferance. He wills and it happens. Period.
Why then, sin and rebellion? I can reply only that His glory is on full display in His grace and His mercy, alongside His judgment. The question is not, why are some damned? Paul tells us in Romans 9 what to do with such a question. The question is, why are any spared? His love should humble and amaze us, the church, His Son’s bride, His chosen people.
God’s sovereignty should bring you to your knees is terrified thankfulness, for He is truly awesome.