Over the past few weeks, we have considered the six aspects of God’s Sevenfold Will. The final aspect is His Decretive Will.
7. Decretive Will
God’s decretive will is the eternal, foreordained will of God which cannot be thwarted or changed. His decretive will is clearly defined in the Westminster Shorter Catechism (WCF) Answer 7: “The decrees of God are His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His own will, whereby for His own glory, He hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.”
o Foreordained to salvation
God has decreed to save the elect even “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1: 4). None can come to Christ if he has not been predestined, preordained and pre-chosen by God the Father. This glorious truth is reiterated by our Lord Jesus in His discourse on the Bread of life: “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6: 39, 44).
The apostle Paul tell us that God chose His elect “according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1: 5), and not because they are worthy to be saved: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2: 8-9).
As salvation is by the grace of God, none can boast of his merit or good works. God’s decretive will in our salvation should humble us and cause us to give thanks for calling us unto Himself. Through our Saviour, we have been “accepted in the Beloved” and adopted into God’s family (Eph. 1: 5-6). May we appreciate afresh the grace, mercy and love of God in Christ Jesus, our Saviour.
o God’s prerogative
Another aspect of God’s decretive will can be seen in the lives of Jacob and Esau. God chose Jacob above Esau when they were in their mother’s womb and when neither had “done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth” (Rom. 9: 11). It is God’s prerogative to choose whom He would and to show “mercy on whom I will have mercy, and … compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Rom. 9: 15). As finite beings with our limited understanding, we have no right to question His will: “Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid” (Rom. 9: 14).
To sum up our thoughts on this subject, we quote from John Calvin: “For the will of God is the highest rule of justice, for this reason, because He wills it. When it is inquired therefore why the Lord did so, the answer must be, because He would. But if you go further, and ask why He so determined, you are in search of something greater and higher than the will of God, which can never be found. Let human termerity (audacity), therefore, desist from asking that which is not, lest it should fail of finding that which is” (The Clock of the Sevenfold Will of God – Rev Timothy Tow).
As we come to the end of our study of the Sevenfold Will of God – 1) Directive; 2) Cooperative; 3) Preceptive; 4) Permissive; 5) Punitive; 6) Desirative; 7) Decretive – let us be mindful of God’s will in our individual lives.
To conclude, we quote from Rev Tow’s illustration of the clock: “The easy-to-know part of God’s will is represented by the moving hands over its face. The hard-to-know part is represented by the mechanism inside the clock. … As we keep our eyes on the clock of this sevenfold will, we will not miss our appointment with God or with man. We will be on time, all the time! Hallelujah, Amen” (ibid).
Brethren, as we seek to know and obey God’s will, let us take heed to the apostle Paul’s exhortation to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5: 15-17).