Mike Riccardi is the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. He also teaches Evangelism at The Master’s Seminary. In an article entitled “I Will Surely Tell of the Decree of the Lord” he writes:
In numerous passages throughout the Bible, there are places where Scripture speaks of God’s “purpose” (Acts 4:28), His “plan” (Ps 33:11; Acts 2:23), His “counsel” (Eph 1:11), “good pleasure” (Isa 46:10), or “will” (Eph 1:5). In one way or another, each of these designations refer to what theologians call God’s decree. The Westminster Confession famously characterizes describes God’s decree as follows: “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.”
So in those instances where Scripture speaks of God’s purpose, plan, counsel, pleasure, or will, these passages are referring to the divine decree by which God, before the creation of time, determined to bring about all things that were to happen in time. John Piper, summarizing God’s decree, says, “He has designed from all eternity, and is infallibly forming, with every event, a magnificent mosaic of redemptive history” (Desiring God, 40). This helpful summary presents three characteristics of God’s decree that succinctly encapsulate the teaching of Scripture: God’s decree is eternal, immutable, and exhaustive.
God’s Decree is Eternal and Unconditional
First, Scripture presents God’s decree as having been determined before the creation of time, and thus it is said to be eternal.
David praises God because all his days were ordained and written in God’s book before any one of them came to pass (Ps 139:16).
God’s election of individuals to salvation is said to have occurred “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4); cf. Matt 25:34); 1 Tim 1:9). Continue reading