Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion — God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written specifically to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.


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Theological Term of the Week

decree(s) of God
The eternal plan of God by which, before the creation of the world, he decided everything that will happen; “His purpose or determination with respect to future things”;“His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, he hath fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass.”2

  • From scripture:

    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…. (Ephesians 1:11 ESV)
    I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me,
    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 46:9-10 ESV)
  • From Keach’s Catechism:

    Q. 11. What are the decrees of God?

    A. 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 (Eph. 1:11; Rom. 11:36; Dan. 4:35)

    Q. 12. How does God execute His decrees?

    A. God executes His decrees in the works of creation and providence. (Gen. 1:1; Rev. 4:11; Matt. 6:26; Acts 14:17)

  • From Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof:

    1. The Divine Decree Is One. Though we often speak of the decrees of God in the plural, yet in its own nature the divine decree is but a single act of God. This is already suggested by the fact that the bible speaks of it as a prothesis a purpose or counsel. It follows also from the very nature of God. His knowledge is all immediate and simultaneous rather than successive like ours, and His comprehension of it is always complete. And the decree that is founded on it is also a single, all-comprehensive, and simultaneous act. As an eternal and immutable decree it could not be otherwise. These is, therefore, no series of decrees in God, but simply one comprehensive plan, embracing all that comes and this accounts for the fact that we often speak of the decrees of God in the plural. This manner of speaking is perfectly legitimate, provided we do not lose sight of the unity of the divine decree, and of the inseparable connection of the various decrees as we conceive of them.

    2. The relation of the decree to the knowledge of God. The decree of God brears the closest relation to the divine knowledge. There is in God, as we have seen, a necessary knowledge, including all possible causes and results. This knowledge furnishes the material for the decree; it is the perfect fountain out of which God drew the thoughts which He desired to objectify. Out of this knowledge of all things possible He chose, by an act of His perfect will, led by wise considerations, what He wanted to bring to realization, and thus formed His eternal purpose. The decree of God is, in turn, the foundation of His free knowledge…. It is the knowledge of things as they are realized in the course of history. While the necessary knowledge of God logically precedes the decree, His free knowledge logicall follows it. … Some of the words used to denote the divine decree point to an element of deliberation in the purposes of God. It would be a mistake, however, to infer from this that the plan of God is the result of any deliberation which implies short-sightedness or hesitation, for it is simply an indication of the fact that there is no blind de ree in God, but only an intelligent and deliberate purpose.

  • From Of the Decrees of God by Thomas Boston:

    Let the people of God comfort themselves in all cases by this doctrine of the divine decrees; and, amidst whatever befalls them, rest quietly and submissively in the bosom of God, considering that whatever comes or can come to pass, proceeds from the decree of their gracious friend and reconciled Father, who knows what is best for them, and will make all things work together for their good. O what a sweet and pleasant life would ye have under the heaviest pressures of affliction, and what heavenly serenity and tranquility of mind would you enjoy, would you cheerfully acquiesce in the good will and pleasure of God, and embrace every dispensation, how sharp soever it may be, because it is determined and appointed for you by the eternal counsel of his will!

Learn more:

  1. Don Stewart: What Are the Decrees of God?
  2. Bible Encyclopedia: Decrees of God
  3. Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry: Decrees of God
  4. Arthur Pink: The Decrees of God
  5. James Petigru Boyce: The Decrees of God
  6. Samuel Willard: The Decrees of God
  7. Jay Wegter: The Most Common Objections to the Doctrine of God’s Decree
  8. John Reisenger: Sovereignty of God and Decrees

Related terms:

1From The Attributes of God by Arthur Pink.
2From The Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. I’ll give you credit and a link back to your blog if I use your suggestion.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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