1689 Confession Outline—Chapter 3

October 12, 2014

Second London Confession
Chapter 3
The Decrees of God

 

INTRODUCTION:

  • What are the decrees of God?
  • Chapter 3 of our confession provides us with a clear and biblical answer.
  • The first paragraph defines the nature of God’s decrees; the following six paragraphs explain, qualify, and apply this doctrine for our own spiritual growth and nourishment.
  • Not only does this chapter supply a positive answer to our question, it makes sure that we understand the proper and improper implications of this doctrine.
  • It answers common objections, makes sure we see the connection between God’s decrees and divine election, and that we do not draw the false conclusion of fatalism—the notion that eliminates human responsibility and makes God the author of evil.
  • Because of the potential of misunderstanding, being puffed up with pride, and becoming contentious, this chapter ends by reminding us that we need to handle this doctrine with care.
  • The doctrine of God’s decrees is a precious and historical teaching that needs to be professed, protected, and proclaimed, but done so in a spirit of humility and meekness.
  • And it is upon this last note that we want to begin our exposition of this great chapter.

 

The Decrees of God

I. The Nature of God’s Decrees, P1

P1: God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.

A. God’s Decrees Originate Exclusively within God Himself (God hath decreed in himself,)

  • From this phrase we infer two theological truths:
  1. God’s decrees originated from within Himself without any external considerations
  2. God’s decrees are based upon the nature of God
  • It is vital that we properly understand the nature of God (chapter 2 of our confession) in order to understand the decrees of God.
  • God’s decrees are eternal, wise, holy, free, and unchangeable because God is eternal, wise, holy, autonomous, and immutable.
  • As our confession goes on to explain:

B. God’s Decrees are Eternal (from all eternity,)

  • Ephesians 3:11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord
  • Because God is eternal, his decrees are eternal.

C. God’s Decrees are Determined by His Own Will as Expressions of His Character.

1. God’s Will is Wise (by the most wise)

  • Having all wisdom, God’s decrees are perfect.

2. God’s Will is Holy (and holy counsel)

  • Given their origin, means of execution, and end all His decrees, including that of the fall of man, are holy.

3. God’s Will is Free (of His own will, freely)

  • It is important to note that just because God’s decrees are rooted in His nature they are not essential to His nature.
  • Because the triune God is completely self-sufficient and eternally happy with himself, He was under no internal or external impulse or obligation to issue out His decrees.
  • Rather, He freely chose to decree according to His own good pleasure.
  • It is vital to keep God’s creative and sustaining powers of the universe, which begins with God’s eternal decrees, separate from the existence and being of God—to confuse the two leads to pantheism and panentheism.

4. God’s Will is Unchangeable (and unchangeably)

  • Psalm 33:11 the plans of the Lord stand firm forever
  • If God’s decrees eternally originated within His own immutable nature by the wisdom of His own counsel, then they must be perfect and unchangeable—otherwise God fails to be all-wise, immutable, and all-powerful.
  • Because God is sovereign over all powers and authorities, nothing can alter, even in the slightest degree, the plans of God
  • Isaiah. 46:10 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.”
  • Isaiah 14:24 The LORD of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,”
    • Before the foundation of the world, God determined everything that takes place in history: for His counsel shall stand.
    • No one can say to Him, “What are you doing?” (Daniel 4:35).
    • For does not the potter have the right to do what he wants with his own clay (Romans 9:21)?
    • And does the hammer have the right to say to him who wields it, “don’t swing me here or there” (Isaiah 10:15)?
    • Of course not, He is God and He does all things according to His own pleasure (Ephesians1:11).

D. God Decrees All Things (all things, whatsoever comes to pass;)

  • Isaiah 46:9–10 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; 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,”
  • Ephesians 1:11 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,
  • Hebrews 6:17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,
  • By virtue of God’s nature, God’s decrees include everything that shall come to pass in time.
  • As it is written, God works “all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).
  • He has predetermined everything from the number of hairs upon each of our heads (Matthew 10:30) to the timing of each little sparrow that falls from the sky (Matthew 10:29).
  • He ordained the rise and fall of nations of the world, and the rise and fall of the birds of the air (Daniel 2:21).
  • God has appointed when and where each of us is born into this world (Acts 17:26); and he has determined when each of us would depart from this world (Hebrews 9:27).
  • Not one blade of grass is blown about by the wind without being obedient to God’s eternal counsel.

E. God’s Decrees Do Not Make God the Author of Sin

1. God’s Decrees Do Not Directly Connect Him with Sin (yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein;)

  • Though God freely and eternally decreed everything that takes place in history, even the wrath of Pharaoh, God is not the author of sin.
  • Sin comes from within us.
  • James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
  • God is holy, and He cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13).
  • God is too holy to even look upon sin, how much more to have fellowship with darkness.
  • 1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

2. God’s Decrees Do Not Violate the Freedom of Men (nor is violence offered to the will of the creature,)

  • But how can a holy God be the author of world history without also being the author of all the evil throughout world history?
  • Like the incarnation and the Trinity, this revealed doctrine of decrees is difficult, but the confession reflects the position of the biblical material in affirming “nor is violence offered to the will of the creature.”
  • Evil originates within the heart of men (James 1:14), and God’s decrees do not violate, manipulate, or internally control the hearts of men.
  • Though the heart of sinful man is in the hands of the Lord and the Lord turns it wherever He wishes, He does so without doing violence to the will of men.
  • This distinction is made clear in what follows in our confession.

3. God’s Decrees Establish Secondary Causes (nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established;)

  • This is further explained by the words that follow: “nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”
  • Unlike pantheism (where God and the universe are one and the actions of men are a direct manifestation of divine activity), God and the universe remain separate and distinct entities.
  • God has ordained, created, and equipped the universe with the laws of nature and He has endowed man with the freedom of violation.
  • God, as the first cause, has ordained and created the universe to operate in an orderly and precise fashion and man to operate in accordance to their nature as secondary causes.
  • As secondary causes, gravity does what gravity does, dogs do what dogs do, and men will act the way man act—everything according to their established laws and their established/fallen natures.
  • As the first cause, God governs all things according to His own counsel and purpose, but does so in a way that does not violate the laws of nature or the volition of man.
  • Louis Berkhof: “In the physical world He has established the laws of nature, and it is by means of these laws that He administers the government of the physical universe.”1
  • Thus, the direct power of God and the indirect powers of nature cooperate and work together without mixture and confusion.
  • John 19:11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”
  • Theologically, this is known as concurrence.
    • Louis Berkhof: “Concurrence may be defined as the cooperation of the divine power with all subordinate powers, according to the pre-established laws of their operation, causing them to act and to act precisely as they do.”2
  • This means that we are responsible for our own sin, but because God controls the restraints that He places upon us, nothing can occur, such as sin, without His permissive and decretive will.

4. God’s Decrees Demonstrate the Wisdom of God (in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.)

  • The final piece that is needed to explain how this all works together is found in the last phrase: “in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.”
  • We must remember that God’s decrees are holy because they each work together for His own glory.
  • Everything, including every sin, collates together for a single purpose—a purpose that will bring glory to God’s wisdom, power, and faithfulness.
  • He has a single plan (i.e., the plan of redemption) in which all things work together to bring Him glory (Psalm 76:10).
  • This means that God did not decree any isolated, random, and purposeless events.
    • For instance, this can be seen in the greatest evil that has ever taken place in the history of mankind—the death of Jesus.
    • The Apostle Peter had the boldness afterwards to look at the Jews and say, “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23).
    • This is an amazing accusation, for Peter acknowledged that Christ was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world when he said that Christ was “delivered up according the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.”
    • How can Peter claim that God decreed the death of Christ, and then turn around and blame the Jews for murdering him: “you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men”?
    • In other words, how can God cease to be the author of sin if He is the one who decreed the death of His Son?
    • As the first cause, God ordained the death of His only Son out of love for His people and for the sake of upholding His own righteous.
    • God was executing justice for sin when He poured out His wrath on Christ on the cross.
    • Therefore, God cannot be charged with murder or with guilt, for God’s purpose was to condemn sin and uphold His own moral law.
    • God was making sure His goodness and justice was upheld while providing salvation for guilty sinners.
    • The eternal purpose of God in sending His Son to die for sinners is what brings glory and praise to God.
    • The Jews, as secondary causes, did not have such pure motives when they handed Christ over to be executed by the Romans.
      • They murdered Him.
      • They were seeking neither justice nor God’s glory, but were moved out of envy and hatred.
    • In this one single act in history, we can observe the sovereign hand of God in the execution of His eternal decrees and the free actions of men taking place without mixture and confusion.
    • The Jews committed sin while God punished sin.
    • As when Joseph’s brother sold him into slavery to carry out God’s purpose of saving many people from starvation: what his brothers meant for evil, God meant for good (Genesis 50:20).
    • In the same fashion, all of history works together to bring glory to God.
    • What a wise, powerful, holy, and glorious plan that God decreed in Himself before the foundation of the world.

Transition: After this pregnant explanation of the nature of God’s decrees, the next paragraph answers one of the more common misconceptions about this doctrine—that God’s foreknowledge [as mere precognition] of future events was somehow in play when God pre-ordained all that will take place.

  • As if God saw what would happen and then determined what He planned to do afterwards.
  • But our confession explains in the next paragraph why this is not the case.

II. God’s Decrees Did Not Include Foresight, P2

P2: Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, yet hath He not decreed anything, because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

A. God does Know the Future and Every Possible Contingency (Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions,)

  • God knows the future because He ordained the future.

B. God’s Decrees Are Not Based Upon any Foresight into the Future (yet hath He not decreed anything, because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.)

  1. A false understanding of the word “foreknowledge”
  2. Scriptural proof—Romans 9:10–23
  3. It is impossible for God to look outside of Himself when determining what He is going to decree.
  4. It is impossible for the One who knows all things to learn anything new.
  • This rules out Arminianism
  • This also rules out what is known as Open Theism

Transition: After answering the common objection about God’s eternal decrees, the confession turns to one of the more important implications of the decrees of God—election.

III. God’s Decrees Included Election and Reprobation, P3

P3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice.

A. The Nature of Election

1. Election is an Active Decree (By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels)

  • By an active decree, we mean that it is a decree that directly and immediately manifests God’s glory: for the manifestation of His glory,
  • By an active decree, we mean that God directly chose particular men and angels: some men and angels
    • Ephesians 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world
    • 1 Timothy 5:21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels

2. Election is unto Eternal Life (are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life)

  • Matthew 25:31–34 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
  • Election is unto full salvation, which our confession explains in more detail in paragraph 5.

3. Election is through Christ (through Jesus Christ,)

  • Ephesians 1:3–6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
  • All spiritual blessing are in Christ…including election

4. Election is unto the Praise of God’s Grace (to the praise of His glorious grace;)

  • Ephesians 1:11–12 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, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
  • Election unto full salvation displays God’s divine mercy, grace, and removes any room for human boasting.

B. The Nature of Reprobation

  1. Reprobation is a Passive Decree (Others being left)
  • Though there is no chronological delay in any of God’s decrees, since all of God’s decrees are equally eternal, reprobation is a passive decree.
  • In that, God’s priority was not first who would be reprobate, but His priority was to choose an elect people for His Son.
  • The reprobate, therefore, consist of those whom God did not choose
  • Thus, election does no injustice to the non-elect, for God was under no obligation to choose any.

2. Reprobation is Leaving the Non-elect to Themselves (to act in their sin)

  • Those who deny any distinctions between active and passive decrees forget the importance of secondary causes.
  • God does decree all things, including sin, but as we have already seen above, His decrees incorporate the laws of nature and the volition of humanity.
  • Thus, reprobation does no injustice to the non-elect but by God’s eternal purposes leaves man (as our confession says) to act in their sins.
    • It is important to note that paragraph 5 explains that election, as an active decree, consists of God’s directly bringing about full salvation, which includes the gift of faith, regeneration, and sanctification, but reprobation simply leaves men to act freely in their own sins.

3. Reprobation is Just (to their just condemnation,)

  • For this reason, their condemnation is just and not based upon God’s eternal decree but upon their own willful disobedience.

4. Reprobation is unto the Praise of God’s Justice (to the praise of His glorious justice)

  • God remains sovereign over reprobation (Jude 4), but this sovereignty displays His divine justice: for it does not involve God condemning people to hell independent of their sins.

Transition: Explaining the doctrine of election and reprobation, our confession affirms with clarity that election is fixed, free, and unto full salvation.

IV. Election is Definite, P4

P4. These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.

  • Election, as with all of God’s decrees, is immutable.

V. Election is Free, P5

P5. Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him thereunto.

A. Election is Free because It is Eternal and Immutable (Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose)

  • Ephesians 1:4, 9, 11
  • We were not there (in eternity past), and He did not base our election upon anything within us.
  • Thus, election is by grace and grace alone
  • Election is free because it is immutable—Hell and all of its powers cannot alter the purposes of God

B. Election is Free because It is According to God’s Will (and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will.)

  • We are entirely indebted to God, for God, and God alone, determined our election.

C. Election is Free because We were Chosen in Christ (hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory,)

  • We are beneficiaries of being the Father’s eternal gift to His Son.

D. Election is Free because It is Out of Free Grace and Love (out of His mere free grace and love,)

  • 2 Timothy 1:9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began

E. Election is Free because It is Undeserved (without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him thereunto.)

  • Ephesians 2:8–10 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

V. Election is unto Full Salvation, P6

P6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so He hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

A. Full Salvation Includes Eternal Glory (As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so He hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected,)

  • Romans 8:28–30 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

B. Full Salvation Includes being Redeemed by Christ (being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,)

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:9–10 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.

C. Full Salvation Includes being Effectually Called (are effectually called)

D. Full Salvation Includes the Gift of Faith (unto faith in Christ,)

E. Full Salvation Includes Regeneration (by His Spirit working in due season,)

F. Full Salvation Includes Justification (are justified,)

G. Full Salvation Includes Adoption (adopted,)

H. Full Salvation Includes Sanctification (sanctified,)

I. Full Salvation Includes Preservation (and kept by His power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.)

 Transition: We come now to a concluding warning as we turn our attention to the importance and value of this doctrine.

VI. The Doctrine of God’s Decrees is Beneficial if Handled with Care, P7

P7. The doctrine of the high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election; so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.

A. How it Needs to be Handled with Care

1. It Must be Handled with Prudence (The doctrine of the high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care,)

  • Because a proper understanding of God’s decrees includes distinctions between active and passive decrees, divine concurrence with secondary causes, reprobation, and with how a holy and sovereign God is not the author of sin; we must handle this doctrine with the utmost care.
  • We do not need to become impatient with those that do not at first understand or readily accept this doctrine—for it is only reasonable to have honest questions.
  • Humility should govern the manner in which we handle this glorious doctrine

2. It Must be Handled with Diligence (that men attending the will of God revealed in His Word,)

  • But just because this doctrine is difficult and complex, does not mean that all Christians should not give themselves in seeking to understand it
  • It is precious and valuable for the Christian life

3. It Must be Handled with Obedience (and yielding obedience thereunto,)

  • With this said, however, we must surrender our thoughts to “Thus saith the Lord,” even if we don’t or can’t fully understand it completely

B. It is Beneficial for Those Who Do Handle It with Care

  • Those who do handle this doctrine with humility and obedience will find it beneficial

1. It Provides Assurance of Election (may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election;)

  • Because election is not merely to glory, but unto faith, repentance, sanctification, and perseverance, we can be assured that we are chosen by God, in part, by examining the evidence.
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:4–5 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
  • In fact, we are told to make our calling and election sure. 2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

2. It Incites Praise, Reverence, and Admiration (so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God,)

  • Ephesians 1:3–6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
  • Only when we fully realize that salvation, from start to finish, is of grace alone, can we fully ascribe glory to God alone.
  • May we all be moved to praise God deeply for His sovereign and free grace!

3. It Produces Humility, Diligence, and Consolation (and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.)

a. This doctrine, if understood properly, does not lead to pride, but humility. (and of humility,)

  • Though some have used this doctrine to lift themselves up in intellectual pride, it should cause us to see ourselves as no better or worthy or wise as the worst of sinners
  • It is doubtful that those who are prideful truly comprehend the decrees of God

b. It also does not lead to antinomianism, as some charge, but diligence. (diligence, … to all that sincerely obey the gospel.)

  • Because God’s decrees include secondary causes, we remain responsible
  • Philippians 2:12–13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
  • … to all that sincerely obey the gospel.

c. Finally, it provides the faithful much consolation, especially in times of trouble. (and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.)

  • Romans 8:28, “all things work together for good…,” is impossible without the eternal, immutable, all-wise decrees of God

Conclusion

  • So, here we have, in our confession, a concise but rich explanation of the doctrine of God’s decrees.
  • But let us make sure that we follow its counsel as we seek to handle it with great humility and reverence as we are driven to a greater appreciation of the wisdom, goodness, and grace of God for His pre-ordaining all things for His own glory and the good of His chosen people.

 

III. OF GOD’S DECREE

3:1 God has decreed in Himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; [a] yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor has fellowship with any therein; [b] nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; [c] in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree [d].

[a] Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 6:17; Romans 9:15,18 [b] James 1:15,17; 1 John 1:5 [c] Acts 4:27,28; John 19:11 [d] Numbers 23:19; Ephesians 1:3–5

3:2 Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, [e] yet has He not decreed anything, because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions [f].

[e] Acts 15:18 [f] Romans 9:11,13,16,18

3:3 By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, [g] to the praise of His glorious grace; [h] others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice [i].

[g] 1 Timothy 5:21; Matthew 25:34 [h] Ephesians 1:5,6 [i] Romans 9:22,23; Jude 4

3:4 These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished [k].

[k] 2 Timothy 2:19; John 13:18

3:5 Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, [l] without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him thereunto [m].

[l] Ephesians 1:4, 9, 11; Romans 8:30; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9 [m] Romans 9:13,16; Ephesians 2:9,12

3:6 As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so He has, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto; [n] wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, [o] are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, [p] and kept by His power through faith unto salvation; [q] neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only [r].

[n] 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13 [o] 1 Thessalonians 5:9,10 [p] Romans 8:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13 [q] 1 Peter 1:5 [r] John 10:26, 17:9, 6:64

3:7 The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election; [s] so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, [t] reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, [u] diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel [x]

[s] 1 Thessalonians 1:4,5; 2 Peter 1:10 [t] Ephesians 1:6; Romans 11:33 [u] Romans 11:5,6,20 [x] Luke 10:20


1 Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), 175.
2 Ibid., 171.