The Westminster Shorter Catechism.

III. The Shorter Catechism-Q & A 7-8 What God Has Decreed.

Q and A #7.

Q. 7 What are the decrees of God?

A. 7 The decrees of God are His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, He has fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass.

The answer to this question begins first with a reiteration of the purpose of all things-the glory of God. God’s decrees are “His eternal purpose.” That is, He is not bound by time or history, since He created these. Before time and history ever came into being He ‘fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass.” There is no room for any other contingencies. He did not decree His eternal purpose by what man might or might not do. Time and history existed before man came into being (Cf. Gen. 1). In fact, the actions of men are included in “whatsoever comes to pass.” His decrees are simply what He has determined to do from all eternity according to His sovereign will. Nothing happens by chance, or by humanity’s direct determination.

This is also foundational to the biblical philosophy of history. Nothing is random. God has a purpose and plan for all that comes to pass (Cf. Is. 11:13; Mt. 10:29). Moreover, with God all points of knowledge and all events are before Him equally. For this reason Paul could say that “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). This is all to His glory. “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:11-12).

Q and A #8.

Q. 8 How does God execute His decrees?

A. 8 God executes His decrees in the works of creation and providence.

God’s decrees are executed in His both creating and sustaining all things. History is both His creation, and the story of His sovereign will and purpose. He decrees everything that comes to be, according to a purpose-His own glory and pleasure. This is but one reason among many why He is worthy of praise. This is the subject of the very songs of heaven itself. “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Thus, from all eternity this was and is the case. Even the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar had to acknowledge who was the Lord over all. “For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done’” (Dan. 4:34b-35)?

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