Chapter 3: Of God’s Decree

  1. God has decreed all things that come to pass. He has done this in himself, from all eternity, by the perfectly wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably.1 He has done this in such a way that he is not the author of sin; nor does he share the responsibility of anyone in their sin;2 nor does he force the will of any creature; nor is the free working or contingency of second causes [the principle of cause and effect] taken away, but it is rather established.3 In all this God’s wisdom is displayed in his ordering of all things, together with his power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.4

1 Is 46.10; Eph 1.11; Heb 6.17; Rom 9.15, 18 2 Jas 1.13; 1Jn 1.5 3 Acts 4.27-28; Jn 19.11 4 Num 23.19; Eph 1.3-5

  1. Although God knows everything that may or can come to pass as the result of all supposed conditions,5 yet he has not decreed anything because he foresaw it in the future, nor because it would necessarily have come to pass as a result of such conditions.6

5 Acts 15.18 6 Rom 9.11, 13, 16, 18

  1. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestined or foreordained to eternal life,7 through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace.8 Others are left to go on in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.9

7 1Tim 5.21; Mt 25.34 8 Eph 1.5-6 9 Rom 9.22-23; Jude 4

  1. These angels and men who are predestined and foreordained are specifically and unchangeably designated; their number is so certain, and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.10

10 2Tim 2.19; Jn 13.18

  1. God chose those men that are predestined to life before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable [unchangeable] purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will. He chose them in Christ for everlasting glory, solely on account of his free grace and love,11 without anything in the creature as a condition or cause moving him so to act.12

11 Eph 1.4, 9, 11; Rom 8.30; 2Tim 1.9; 1Thes 5.9 12 Rom 9.13, 16; Eph 2.5, 12

  1. As God has appointed the elect to glory, so he has, by the eternal and entirely free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means to that end.13 Therefore, those who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,14 are effectually called to faith in Christ by his Spirit working at the appropriate time. They are justified, adopted, sanctified,15 and kept by his power through faith unto salvation.16 None but the elect alone are redeemed by Christ – only they are effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved.17

13 1Pt 1.2; 2Thes 2.13 14 1Thes 5.9-10 15 Rom 8.30; 2Thes 2.13 16 1Pt 1.5 17 Jn 10.26; Jn 17.9; Jn 6.64

  1. The doctrine of this high mystery [God’s truth known only by divine revelation] of predestination, is to be handled with particular wisdom and care, in order that men giving attention to the will of God revealed in his Word, and being obedient to it, may – as a result of the certainty of their effectual call – be assured of their eternal election.18 In this way this doctrine shall provide a cause of praise, reverence, and admiration of God,19 and of humility,20 diligence, and abundant consolation [comfort]21 to all those who sincerely obey the gospel.

18 1Thes 1.4-5; 2Pt 1.10 19 Eph 1.6; Rom 11.33 20 Rom 11.5-6, 20 21 Lk 10.20