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The Decrees of God

When we say that God decrees something, what do we mean? At first glance, this seems to be something very remote from our lives, but it actually has a meaning and application which reaches down into every fiber and nerve of your life and mine.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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[Taken from Rushdoony’s Good Morning, Friends, Volume 1, pp 30-32]

Good morning, friends. This morning I’d like to talk about the decrees of God. What are they? When we say that God decrees something, what do we mean? The Shorter Catechism answers it like this:

A. 7. 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.

At first glance, this seems to be something very remote from our lives, but it actually has a meaning and application which reaches down into every fiber and nerve of your life and mine.

Simply stated, it tells us this, that the Lord is God, that God rules over all things, and not chance. You and I sit down frequently and try to plan our lives. We figure on so much time for work, and so much time for play. We budget and plan our finances, and decide that a certain sum will have to be set aside monthly for set payments, leaving us a specific sum of money for other purposes. We earnestly and sincerely try to plan our lives, but of course the trouble is that they don’t plan well. Unexpected things happen, events which we cannot control, and neither our time nor our money prove our own. Illness or extra expenses wipe out all our planning, and sometimes years of hoping. Then we start planning and hoping all over again. It has its value; it gives us minor victories which would be impossible without planning, but we always know that we can never control every factor in our lives or in our work and world. We plan, but events outside our control continually compel us to alter and adjust our planning.

If God’s planning were like our planning, then most of God’s creation would have to be outside His control and moving under chance. It would make chance more important than God, because God’s plans would be liable to change if events overruled His planning. We know that this is not so: there is no chance in this world. As James, the brother of our Lord, declared at the Council of Jerusalem, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). God’s planning is perfect planning: it leaves nothing to chance, and neither man nor events but only God controls the course of the plan.

What does this mean for us? It raises, of course, some questions about how to reconcile God’s decree and human freedom and responsibility. Such questions we cannot answer: we do not have the mind to grasp all their implications. But this one thing we know, that to believe in a God who is in full control gives meaning to every moment and every act in our lives. Nothing that happens to us is senseless or meaningless. The world is not out of hand, or God out of the driver’s seat. He is in full and absolute control. This means that there is a purpose to all things which faith and patience can discern and trust in.

Every one of us suffers things and undergoes trials and tribulations which sorely try our spirits. It would make life senseless and cruel if we could believe no more than that these things were meaningless and chance acts. But if we can believe, as we are asked by Scripture to believe, that all these things are a part of God’s decree and have a meaning in terms of Him, then we know that nothing is senseless or wasted in our lives or in all creation. Then we know that there is an eternal purpose in and behind all things, and our strength is in trusting in God and His workings. It enables us to say, although I do not know why these things have happened to me, I believe in the love and purpose which stands behind them and brought them to me. Because the Lord planned this, I know that His purpose is to His eternal glory and to my strengthening and fulfilling in Him. With Paul we can say, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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