Josiah Audette

"Aware of the past, curious about the future, ready to argue the present." Tocqueville

Tag: Decrees

On The Origin of Sin: By Means of Natural Selection

Origin of Sin

Question 13: Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?

Answer: Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

“Nothing is so easy to denounce, nothing is so difficult to understand.” Augustine.


Original Righteousness

Before we can address the doctrine of Original Sin we ought address first the much neglected doctrine of Original Righteousness. Namely, that period in Scripture and history where man was created and living in righteousness, knowledge, and holiness in the image of God. In the prose of Milton,

“Of living creatures new to sight and strange…

The image of their glorious Maker shone,

Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure.”

Here was the life of our representative heads in the Garden of Eden under the Covenant of Life. The estate wherein they were created was that of original righteousness. God created Adam and Eve, “very good.” C.S. Lewis observes, “God created all things without exception good, and because they are good, ‘No nature (i.e. no positive reality) is bad and the word Bad denotes merely privation of good,’…. What we call bad things are good things perverted.” Lewis goes on to say, “From this doctrine of good and evil it follows that good can exist without evil, but not evil without good.” Adam’s original existence was that of the former, good without evil. While Adam was created perfect, his perfection and the benefits of his perfection were not yet guaranteed. Hence, “God entered into the Covenant of Life with him, upon the condition of personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience.” In Milton’s fictive reflection of Eve speaking to Adam,

Needs must the power that made us, and for us this ample world

Be infinitely good, and of his good

As liberal and free as infinite,

That raised us from the dust and placed us here,

In all this happiness, who at his hand

Have nothing meretied, nor can perform

Aught whereof he hath need, he who requires

From us no other service than to keep

This one, this easy charge, of all the trees

In Paradise that bear delicious fruit

So various, not to taste that only Tree of Knowledge planted by the Tree of Life,

So near grows death to life, whatever death is,

Some dreadful thing no doubt, for well thou now’t

God hath pronounced it death to taste that Tree,

The only sign of our obedience left

Among so many signs of power and rule”

Probationary Prohibition

This Covenant of Life was a limited, representative probationary period. An indefinite opportunity was given to innocent Adam to virtuously secure for himself and all his posterity that state of righteous innocence. “Innocence is life untested, but virtue is innocence tested and triumphant” says one reformer. Within this probationary period Adam’s innocence was not guaranteed. Morecraft writes, “A temporary probationary period of testing was accepted by God in place of an everlasting exposure to the possibility of falling into sin under the perpetual demands of God. God limited the probationary testing period for Adam, and in so doing, accepted temporary obedience during that time frame, as equivalent to what Adam’s perpetual innocence would have accomplished.” However God not only graciously limited the time of probation, but also the persons under the probation. “Without the Covenant of Life” says Morecraft, “Wherein Adam stood for all men, representing all who would descend form him in ordinary generation, each individual would have to stand or fall according to his own individual obedience.” Hence the Covenant of Life was an indefinite, representative, probationary period by prohibition upon reward of life or threat of death. A probationary period constitutes four elements. 1. In a probationary period, the status of the probationary persons are not yet confirmed. So while Adam did not have death in him from the Tree of the Knowledge, neither had he yet attained to eternal life through the Tree of Life. 2. In probation, the persons are tested. The test for the Covenant of Life was very clear, a prohibition against eating of the Tree of the Knowledge. 3. In a probationary period the outcome has the status of the probationary persons confirmed. The outcome of obedience in the Adamic Covenant was eternal life from the Tree of Life and of disobedience, death. The fact that Adam (post-fall, post-probation) was denied the Tree of Life indicates that the Tree of Life was in fact the reserved, future award for obedience to the Covenant of Life. 4. Consequently, in a probationary period the testing is for a limited period of time. Albeit indefinite, Adam’s testing was indeed limited otherwise their would have been no mention of a promised reward or threatened punishment indicating finality to the probation.

Free Agency & Moral Ability

“I made him just and right, 

Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.”

Illustrates Milton of God concerning Adam. Scripture is incredibly clear that post-fall, post-probation man is not able not to sin by reason of his sin nature.  In this regard Karl Kraus was correct in stating that “The Devil is wildly optimistic if he thinks he can make human beings worse than they are.”  We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. “Free-Will” for us, the moral ability to select between good and evil, is an empty word. A man cannot prefer against his preference or choose against his choice, and Scripture is clear our only preference is evil and our only choice is sin. This is what we may call “The freedom of slavery.” Not free-will but self-will. As Lorraine Boettner writes, “We deny the existence in man of a power which may act either way, on the logical ground that both virtue and vice cannot come out of the same moral condition of the agent.” Martin Luther wrote, “Free will is an empty term, whose reality is lost. And a lost liberty, according to my grammar, is no liberty at all.” However, if there ever was a man who had free-will, apart from the incarnate God-man, it was Adam. He had no such “freedom of slavery”, no lost liberty, no self-will, no sin nature. To say differently would be to hold God liable as the creator of faultiness, or author of evil. Our representative’s moral ability and free-agency to guarantee his state of righteous innocence was being tested in the probationary period. Unlike us, Adam had both the capacity and ability for either virtue or vice. The power of contrary choice, as the angels before him, and the incarnate Christ after, was his to avail. John Murray notes, “There was no necessity arising from his physical condition, nor from his moral nature, nor from the state of his environment, why he should sin.”


The Origin of Original Sin

Original Sin did not originate in Adam, although it was indeed perpetuated by him.

“He trusted to have equaled the Most High,

If he opposed; and with ambitious aim

Against the throne and monarchy of God

Raised impious war in Heav’n and battle proud

With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power

Hurled headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky

With hideous ruin and combustion down

To bottomless perdition, there to dwell

In adamantine chains and penal fire,

Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms.”

The origin of sin as Milton here portrays, was with Satan. As one theologian writes, “Sin did not break out on earth in the first instance, but in heaven, in the immediate presence of God, and at the foot of his throne. The thought, the wish, the will to resist God arose first in the heart of the angels.” Now sin’s originator, the original sinner, Satan, conspired against God’s creation vowed to his legions,

“To waste his whole creation, or possess

All as our own, and drive as we were driven,

The puny habitants, or if not drive,

Seduce them to our party, that their God

May prove their foe, and with repenting hand

Abolish his own works. This would surpass

Common revenge, and interrupt his joy

In our confusion, and our joy upraise

In his disturbance, when his darling sons

Hurled headlong to partake with us, shall curse

Their frail original, and faded bliss

Faded so soon.” Milton.

Thus arose the originator who would supply the external suggestion of original sin to Adam. Laidlaw writes of original sin in Adam, “It arose with an external suggestion, and upon an external occasion, but it was an inward crisis.” Samuel Rutherford clarifies, “Can Satan force us against our will to sin? A. No, he tempts us and knocks at the door without, but our will and lust opens the door. Satan is the midwife that helps forward the birth but our will and lust is the father and mother to all our sins.” So our parents fell from the estate wherein he was created by sinning against God. “What is the Fall?” asks C.S. Lewis, “The Fall is simply and solely Disobedience – doing what you have been told not to do: and it results from Pride – from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God.”


Original Knowledge

The fall from original righteousness was through the original sin of original knowledge.

“Will God incense his ire

For such a petty trespasss, and not praise

Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain

Of death denounced, whatever thing death be,

Deterred not from achieving what might lead

To happier life, knowledge of good and evil;

Of good, how just? Of evil, if what is evil

By real, why not known, since easier shunned;

God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just;

Not just, not God; not feared then, nor obeyed:

Your fear itself of death removes the fear.

Why then was this forbid? Why but to awe,

Why but to keep ye low and ignorant,

His worshipers; he knows that in the day

Ye eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear,

Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then

Opened and cleared, and ye shall be as gods,

Knowing both good and evil as they know.”

Know as they know the knowledge of Good and Evil. The prohibition of the probationary period went far beyond sensual intemperance and mammon appetite. Its grimace was graver than gluttony. It would also be a mistake to say that knowledge was prohibited in the Covenant of Life. Our first parents were indeed created in, “knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.” Their knowledge must have been surpassing for Adam to have the originality of thought and the discernment to give names to the creatures and to manage paradise itself. This quality of knowledge, this pure and vast natural knowledge was not an inducement to the fall. So too ought we not abandon learning, scholarly pursuits, and intellectual cultivation in the work of the dominion mandate. It was not the quantity of Adam’s knowledge (as vast as it was) which induced the fall, but rather the quality of knowledge. Namely, moral knowledge. Francis Bacon writes in his essay on “The Advancement of Learning” , “It was not the pure knowledge of Nature and universality, a knowledge by the light whereof man did give names unto other creatures in Paradise as they were brought before him according unto their properties, which gave the occasion to the fall; but it was the proud knowledge of good and evil, with an intent in man to give law unto himself, and to depend no more upon God’s commandments, which was the form of the temptation.” The limitations of righteous knowledge are therefore threefold as Bacon considers, “1. That we do not so place our felicity in knowledge, as we forget our mortality.” This was the original lie in the original sin of original knowledge. “Ye shall not die.” Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes, “As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? As the fool.” Momento Mori, remember your mortality. Bacon continues, “The second, that we make application of our knowledge, to give ourselves repose and contentment, and not distaste or repining.”  The latter quality of knowledge puffeth-up. It set our first parents at enmity with God and then with themselves. “The third, that we do not presume by the contemplation of Nature to attain to the mysteries of God.” Herein again was the lie of original knowledge. “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Bacon wonderfully summarizes, “Let no man upon a weak conceit of sobriety or an ill-applied moderation think or maintain that a man can search too far, or be too well studies in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works, divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavour an endless progress or proficiency in both; only let men beware that they apply both to charity, and not to swelling; to use, and not to ostentation;” 


Apologetics for Dogmatics

It makes God the author of sin.

Not so.

“And man there placed, with purpose to assay

If him [Satan] by force he can destroy, or worse,

By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert;

For man will hearken to his glozing lies,

And easily transgress the sole command,

Sole pledge of his obedience: so will fall

He and his faithless progeny: whose fault?

Whose but his own? Ingrate, he had of me

All he could have; I made him just and right, Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.”

Again, the fall arose out of external suggestion, upon external situation, but from an inward crisis. Adam was the author of his own sin. “God left him [Adam] to the freedom of his own will, and that freedom he abused. No doubt God could have prevented his fall if he had pleased, by giving such influences of his Spirit as would have been absolutely effectual to hinder it; but this he was under no obligation to do. He did not withdraw from man that ability with which He had furnished him for his duty, nor did He infuse any vicious inclinations into his heart – He only withheld that further grace that would have infallibly prevented his fall.” Robert Shaw. Consequentially, God allowed the fall. We meant it for evil, but God decreed it for good.

“As my eternal purpose hath decreed:

Man shall not quite be lost, but saved who will,

Yet not of will in him, but grace in me

Freely vouchsafed; once more I will renew

His lapsed powers, though forfeit and enthralled

By sin to foul exorbitant desires;

Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand

On even ground against his mortal foe,

By me upheld, that he may know how frail

His fall’n condition is, and to me owe

All his deliv’rance, and to none but me.”

So if God decreed the Fall as Milton depicts, how then can there can be moral responsibility without free agency?

The decretive will of God which is the cause of the futurition of the Fall is neither its physical cause (infusion of sin in Adam) or its ethical cause (Approval of sin in Adam). Nor because Adam fulfilled the decretive will is he held less guilty as he still violated the preceptive will of God graciously revealed to him. John Piper refers to this most wisely as the two wills of God. Piper writes, “We must certainly distinguish between what God would like to see happen and what he actually does will to happen, and both of these things can be spoken of as God’s will.” The preceptive will of God is “His general intention and longing, not his effective purpose.” The decretive will of God is his inviolable sovereign decree or effective purpose of what will happen. The former is what he would delight in happening. The latter is what he finally decides in happening. The former is what he would want to happen. The latter is what he wills to happen. The two wills of God working together are paradoxical but not contradictory. Furthermore, the Pelagian doctrine that goodness and vice are measured in proportion to the selection  of either being devoid of any influence is fallacious. Calvin deduces, “The goodness of God is so connected with his Godhead that it is not more necessary to be God than to be good; whereas the devil, by his fall, was so estranged from goodness that he can do nothing but evil. 

Should anyone give utterance to the profane jeer that little praise is due to God for a goodness to which he is forced, is it not obvious to every man to reply, “It is owing not to violent impulse, but to his boundless goodness, that he cannot do evil?”

Therefore, if the free will of God in doing good is not impeded, because he necessarily must do good; if the devil, who can do nothing but evil, nevertheless sins voluntarily; can it be said that man sins less voluntarily because he is under a necessity of sinning?”

The voluntary or involuntary nature the natural selection of virtue or vice does not effect the praiseworthiness or blameworthiness of such a choice.


Conclusion

“But to destruction sacred and devote,

He with his whole posterity must die,

Die he or Justice must; unless for him

Some other able, and as willing, pay

The rigid satisfaction, death for death.

Say Heavenly powers, where shall we find such love,

Which of ye will be mortal to redeem

Man’s mortal crime, and just th’ unjust to save,

Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?”

He asked, but all the Heavn’nly choir stood mute,

And silence was in Heav’n: on no man’s behalf

Patron or intercessor none appeared,

Much less that durst upon his own head draw

The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set.

And now without redemption all mankind

Must have been lost, adjudged to death and Hell

By doom severe, had not the Son of God,

In whom the fullness dwells of love divine,

His dearest meditation thus renewed.

“Father, thy word is past, man shall find grace;

And shall grace not find means, that finds her way…

Behold me then, me for him, life for life

I offer, on me let thine anger fall;

Account me man; I for his sake will leave

Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee

Freely put off, and for him lastly die

Well pleased, on me let Death wreck all his rage;

Under his gloomy power I shall not long

Lie vanquished; thou hast giv’n me to possess

Life in myself forever, by thee I live,

Though now to Death I yield, and am his due

All that of me can die, yet that debt paid,

Thou wilt not leave me in the loathsome grave

His prey, nor suffer my unspotted soul

Forever with corruption there to dwell;

But I shall rise victorious, and subdue

My vanquisher, spoiled of his vaunted spoil;

Death his death’s wound shall then receive, and stoop

Inglorious, of his mortal sting disarmed.

I through the ample air in triumph high

Shall lead Hell captive mauler Hell, and show

The powers of darkness bound. Thou at the sight

Pleased, out of Heaven shalt look down and smile,

While by thee raised I ruin all my foes,

Death last, and with his carcass glut the grave:

Then with the multitude of my redeemed

Shall enter Heaven long absent, and return,

Father to see thy face, wherein no cloud

Of anger shall remain, but peace assured,

And reconcilement; wrath shall be no more

Thenceforth, but in thy presence joy entire.”

His words here ended, but his meek aspect

Silent yet spake, and breathed immortal love

To mortal men, above which only shone

Filial obedience: as a sacrifice

Glad to be offered, he attends the will

Of his great Father. Admiration seized

All Heav’n, what this might mean, and whither tend Wondering.”

To Put in Order

Q. 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 hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

I could not surmise a better topic for a new years sermon than on the decrees of God. To give the Christian confidence in the new year and appreciation for the one that is past. It is a good thing for the Christian to acknowledge that he or she is loved of God before the year begins, even before the very foundation of the world. For assurance that God’s goodness will be with them yet another year. With confidence to proceed knowing God is the pilot of their future. Acknowledging that if God has appointed storms to come, He will be there with them that they fail not. For the Christian to confess that length of days does not profit  them, except if they are passed in the presence and service of God. Christian receiving grace and God’s Spirit to follow His will through each new moment by moment of the year. To embark into the unknown waters of this 2014 with God as their haven, the Son at the helm, and the Spirit filling the sails. Today’s lecture has also concerned itself as a doctrine which has been historically central to the debate of the Reformed Doctrine of Predestination. One’s answer to this question will allow the determination of their acceptance for the sovereignty of God, the goodness of God, the reality of sin and evil, and ultimately the purpose of God. This doctrine has been and continues to be attacked by its Palagean and neo-arminian adversaries who deny, limit, or diminish to some degree the relationship of God’s sovereignty to human affairs. As Dr. Lorraine Boettner wrote, “The question which faces us then, is, Has God from all eternity foreordained all things which come to pass? If so, what evidence do we have to that effect, and how is the fact consisted with the free agency of rational creatures and with His own perfections?” This is a question which we at Grace Haven, are well acquainted with. We must remember that how we view the nature of God will define how we answer this question. There is a reason why we have already covered the doctrine of the purpose of man, the nature of God, and the existence of the Trinity. Because after reviewing what we have learned of God, can we rightly ask if the infinite, eternal, and unchangeable Godhead is capable of delaying or limiting His decrees and still be consistent with His nature?It would be easy to assume that God only makes decrees as a response to an issue which is already present if one’s view of God was not much different than that of a rational human. But from what we have learned in the past lectures we know that God existed in eternity past, that no circumstance can change his actions or his mind, and that He is infinitely wise and powerful. We may only safely and rightly conclude that such a being is incapable of delaying, diminishing, or limiting His  eternal existence of over all things, His knowledge of all things and His power over every thing. This catechism question is not so much become a doctrinal question as it has become a doctrinal battle in our day and age within Church history. Not a battle over who is right and who is wrong, nor a battle of doctrinal confession, not a battle of theological creeds, nor a battle of who is a so-and-so and who is a such-and-such. Such differences are merely used as a distraction from the central conflict. The culminating doctrinal battle is over who God is and who man is. Thus I repeat Dr. Boettner’s profound statement. “The question which faces us then, is, Has God from all eternity foreordained all things which come to pass? If so, what evidence do we have to that effect, and how is the fact consistent with the free agency of rational creatures and with His own perfections?”

THE DECREES OF GOD

Dr. Grudem simply defined a decree as “A word of God that causes something to happen.” The most forceful portrait of this in Scripture is Isaiah 46:8-11, “Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. Remember the former things of old: for I am God , and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient time the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” Withal, God’s decrees are His plans, orders, and purposes for His creation. From this singular passage we may rightly determine the inception of God’s decrees being from eternity past. “Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient time the things that are not yet done.” This assures us that God does not decree in a fashion which is just but an abrupt response to a current pressing issue, such as we humans make decisions. Rather, prior from the end, prior from the things that are not yet done God had ordained the events. Ordain, foreordain, predestine are all terms which in their simplest form mean to put in order. When we say that God has ordained or foreordained whatsoever comes to pass we are plainly saying that God has put everything in order before it even comes together. To illustrate I will use my favourite game, speed scrabble. In this game one takes several letter pieces at random puts them in order and then plays them together to form a word. The major deficiency in this illustration is the fact that God, unlike me, is not contained to using only a few, randomly selected pieces to make meaning of them. Rather, God, decrees the pieces into existence, decrees them into order, and decrees them into play. An asset that would be unbeatable if endowed upon any mortal.

HIS ETERNAL PURPOSE

As stated previously, God’s decrees are eternal. In simplest terms, God puts events in order before He even created them. As such God’s decrees are eternal, they are not emergency reactions. God’s decrees are unchangeable, they are not responses to changing conditions. God’s decrees are eternal because He is eternal. Can an eternal God make momentary plans? God’s decrees are unchangeable because He is unchangeable. Can God make an exit strategy? As one can easily perceive, what we believe about God will determine our answer to this question. Nothing, in God changes. Not his thoughts, not His plans, not His will, not His actions. God does not condition His decrees in response to the changes of man. Rather, all human changes are in harmony with and derived from the decrees of God. Stated in an earlier lecture, change is a limitation of finite humanity. Naturally, God is free from limitations. In this respect, a more pertinent question than human freedom is God’s freedom. God’s decrees are free. Free from limitation, free from change, free from time,  free from influence outside Himself, free from causes, free from conditions, and free from control. Summarily, God’s decrees are absolutely, purely unconditional and independent of any influences or causes outside His being.  While said, this does not imply that the decrees of God are free from any obligation to be consistent with His character, rather His character determines the content of His decrees.

COUNSEL OF HIS WILL

Morecraft concisely wrote, “Wisdom in human beings consists in deep insight into the true nature of things and the skill to apply that insight practically and correctly.” From this wisdom, we as human sons of God and brothers of Christ are to formulate our decisions. But the wisdom which God exercises in His decrees is far different and superior to ours. Morecract continued, “In God, wisdom is His knowledge and power working together to foreordain everything to happen in such a way that would bring Him the most glory and His people the most benefit.” Here we realize that God utilizes His infinite power with His infinite knowledge to know all the events He will create, to put them in order, and then to go about creating them. So again, God’s decrees are infinitely wise because God is infinitely wise. Can God make a ineffective plan? God’s decrees are infinitely powerful because He is infinitely powerful. Can God make a resistible plan? Note that both God’s wisdom and His power act united in His decrees, for a god having one without the other is a cripple. With wisdom God can put all things in order, but without power His wisdom is unachievable. With power God can enforce and create, yet without wisdom His power is misguided. By “Counsel” the catechism implies a prudent inner-consultation within the Persons of the Godhead. Therefore, the decrees of God are the product of the united wisdom of the Godhead. Dr. Boettner made an accurate observation when he wrote, “It is unthinkable that a God of infinite wisdom and power would create a world without a definite plan for that world. And because God is thus infinite, His plan must extend to every detail of the world’s existence. If we could see the world in all its relations, past, present, and future, we would see that it is following a predetermined course with exact precision.” Consider but for a moment the opposite reality with A.J. Gordon. “A universe without decrees would be as irrational and appalling as would be an express train driving on in the darkness without headlight or engineer, and with no certainty that the next moment it might not plunge into the abyss.”

FOR HIS OWN GLORY

Clive Staple L. otherwise known as C.S. Lewis wrote the following, “To be sovereign of the universe is no great matter to God… God who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them.” It is perpetually asked why God does what He does. Alternatively, why does God make decrees? Pasalm 135:6 provides the answer. “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.” To comprehend some true notion of why God decrees we must first know why He does not Decree. God does not decree because He is under the constraint of an outside force. God does not decree out of a need for self-fulfillment. God does not even decree because it makes him happy. Rather, God decrees because He is happy. This striking observation was given to me by John Piper who wrote the following, “God is and always has been an exuberantly happy God. Thus God is not constrained by any inner deficiency or unhappiness to do anything he does not want to do. If God were unhappy, if he were in some way deficient, then he might indeed be constrained from outside in some way to do what he does not want to do, in order to make up his deficiency and finally to be happy. This is what distinguishes us from God.” With each and every decree of God he acts as Piper states, “of the overflow of the joy of his boundless self-sufficiency.” Therefore all the decrees of God are for his own glory, all the decrees of God are both for and from his own joy and pleasure. Any attack brought upon, divisive question raised, or doubt fostered on the decrees of God is therefor an attack on His glory, joy, and happiness. God cannot be restrained, questioned, or doubted from decreeing what he delights to do and what he does is from His infinite passion to express his abundance of delight. Again we realize this amazing concept from Pasalm 135:6 “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.”

(As a side note, recently I have been wondering whether or not God is an introvert or an extrovert. It initially appeared to me that God would be a strong introvert providing His existence perfectly alone in eternity past. Then I considered His creation of the world, with its billions of people and considered the possibility of His extroversion. Similarly, I have pondered the same for Jesus as a human. I often see him going far away by himself, even refusing his disciples to join him and entertain the notion of him being a strong introvert. But then I see him mixing with extensively large crowds for prolonged periods of time and question if he was an introvert. Yet after considering how God does all things out of His self-sufficiency I have determined that God and Jesus were neither introverts nor extroverts. Why? Because introverts and extroverts are who they are out of need. Introverts have the need to be alone to build energy, focus, and mental stability. Extroverts need to be with others to similarly build energy, emotion, and health. Neither God nor Jesus had either need. Because in every state, in any condition, under any circumstance they were perfectly and sustainably self-sufficient. God did not create the world out of an extroverted need. Jesus did not leave others out of an introverted desire. The question of God’s introversion or extroversion is nonsensical to the nature of God.)

WHATSOEVER COMES TO PASS

God’s decrees encompass both the means and the end, the cause and the effect, the beginning and the end with all their multitude emanations, consequences, causes, content and effects. To entertain the notion that God does not trouble himself with “the little things.” is to put a size on God. If there ever existed something “too small” for God then there would also very possibly exist something “too big” for God. The reality is nothing can be remotely compared or related in size, proportion, or importance with God. Both great and small things to us are but equal to God. His control of the greatest, relative to us, must include the control of the least, for the great things are but only made up of the little. There is an excellent proverb from history that illustrates this attention to detail for us.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

We may be assured that God keeps oversight and decrees over both the nail and the kingdom. The Arminian contests that God has but a general plan, the Pelagian denies God has any plan at all, but the Calvinist says that God has a special and specific plan which embraces all events throughout the ages. Benjamin Breckinridge W., otherwise known as B.B. Warfield contemplated the following, “Predestination is broad enough to embrace the whole universe of things, and minute enough to concern itself with the smallest details, and actualizing itself with inevitable certainty in every event that comes to pass.” Once again, with God it is either all or nothing. You cannot put a limit on sovereignty. Until a person learns that God is sovereing, he never really knows God at all. To say that God is sovereign is to say that God is God. Morecraft defined God’s sovereignty thus, “God is the most high King of heaven and earth, who rules and controls His universe for His own glory just as He pleases, having foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.” 

(The clearest illustration here I can conjecture is once again the hour glass. Where the upper portion of the glass represents the future which flows down through the middle point of the glass which represents the ever fulfilling present which moves into the building past. Here we can imagine that every grain of sand is specially decreed, or put in order, by God. That each sand representing any particular event in the course of space-time it is perfectly placed in sequential order in the future, that it precisely flows through the present, lands with perfect accuracy in the past, and makes calculated and flawless effects to those it touches and changes. With this picture of total calculation and precision it would be ludicrous to dare that God has not placed and moved every sand as it should, or determined each pieces cause and effect.)

IS GOD THE AUTHOR OF EVIL?

There are two questions reasonably raised from the doctrine of predestination and God’s decrees. The fist is an arminian logic which states if a total omniscience would necessarily mean that everything we will ever choose in the  present and future will have already been laid out in God’s divine order then the belief that we have truly significant choices to make would seem to be mistaken. Alternitavely, with God’s omniscience, we are all rendered as mere robots incapable of making any free and therefore meaningful, significant choices. To this first inquiry Oliver Cromnwell’s chaplain, Stephen Charnock, gives a courageous response to these neo-arminians with the following. “But what if the foreknowledge of God, and the liberty of the will, cannot be fully reconciled by man? Shall we therefore deny a perfection in God to support a liberty in ourselves? Shall we rather fasten ignorance upon God, and accuse him of blindness, to maintain our liberty?” In response to the dilemma posed by the arminians Charnock bodily stated, “So what? So what if you think you are a robot under God’s infinite power. Would you really rather criminalize God in order to justify yourself?”  Calvin also gave a vitriolic attack on such an accusation, “It is insufferable wickedness to think that we, who can hardly crawl on the earth, should take nothing as true except what submits itself to investigation by our eyes… But because of the dense darkness of the human mind by which all acknowledge is rendered thin and perishable, Scripture builds for us a higher watchtower for which to observe God overruling all the works of men so as to direct them to the end appointed by Him.” Both Calvin and Charnock end the debate by revealing the stupidity of the question in much the same way as Isaiah and Paul did with the illustration of the clay arguing with the moulder. As for the second question raised, since God has put everything in place does it also make him the author of the sins of the world? We know from Scripture that God cannot be the author of Sin, James 1:17. Furthermore we know that God’s own law forbids all sin. And thirdly we know by the nature of sin itself that it forbids God’s authoring. Sin, by definition and consequence, must be man’s own free activity, or else man would not be responsible and guilty. R.J. Rushdoony gave the best explanation I have come accross. “Evil is not a thing. and hence not a creature. It is a relationship, or better, a ruptured and broken relationship. God created heaven and earth, and all things therein, but sin is not properly a part of that creation, but rather a disruption of relationships between Creator and man, and between man and his fellow men…. In this sense that God’s eternal decree is the source of all creation, events, thoughts, and possibilities, the origin of sin as a possibility and a fact is in God’s creative purpose. With respect to the responsibility for sin, God is not its author. Because sin is a revolt against God and His law, sin it totally alien and impossible concept to ascribe to God. The question thus (Is God the author of sin?) is not an admissible one.”

CONCLUSION

We have reviewed that God has decreed, or put in order, all events before they were even created and has done so out of the abundance of his joy in himself and for the benefit of his people. Our infinite God has put an infinite number of events in order. Our unchanging God has put them all in order with one unfaltering purpose. Our infinitely wise God has put them in order with perfect effectiveness. Our infinitely powerful God has created and enforced all the events he has put in order. Our perfectly happy God has put all events in order to glorify himself. No event was unplanned, no event is without meaning, and no event is without effectiveness. The Christian can only have confidence in the present moment and faith in the future moments of 2014 by the full acknowledgement and adoration of the decrees of God.