Is God in charge?

That is an important question with enormous ramifications. Depending upon your answer, you will either live a life of immense peace and joy or you will endure a life of constant anxiety and worry.

Question 10 of the Baptist Catechism is important, practically and theologically.


QUESTION TEN


Q. 10: What are the decrees of God?

A. 10: 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.


(Ephesians 1:4, 11; Romans 9:22-23; Isaiah 46:10; Lamentations 3:37)


EXPLANATION


We return to our initial question, "Is God in charge?" The Baptist Catechism, building upon the teachings of Scripture, answers in the unequivocal affirmative. God is in charge. God reigns. He rules. The answer, of course, is more elaborate, and we would benefit greatly from taking our time.


First, the question focuses on decrees. This refers to God's rule of His world. The Catechism answers that the decrees of God have four aspects (for lack of a better word): timing (eternal), object (his will), purpose (His own glory), sovereignty (He hath foreordained).


Timing of God's Decrees--eternal


God is eternal, having neither beginning nor end. His purposes, according to Scripture (see Eph. 1:4 and 11), were present before any spec of creation was spoken into existence. Nothing, then, will take God by surprise, because nothing happens without His movement.


Object of God's Decrees--according to the counsel of His will


The object of God's decrees is according to the counsel of His will. Or, to put it another way, what God wanted God accomplished. Listen to Isaiah's words, "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.'" (Isa. 46:10, ESV) What God wants, God does.


Purpose of God's Decrees--for His own glory


God rules and reigns in everything so that He would be glorified. He is, as we have already established, the first and chiefest Being. It is right, then, that He be glorified. No one thinks it is wrong to remark on the beauty of the bride on her wedding day. No one blinks when the children thank their father for a perfectly grilled steak. Why do we have a problem that God seeks His own glory?


John Piper writes, "So, the deepest problem we have in dealing with God's self-exaltation is not that we don't like some kinds of self-exalting authority but that fallen human nature does not like any kind of divine authority over our lives." (Piper, Providence, 41) That, I believe, is absolutely correct. We hate God, therefore His self-exaltation is despicable in our eyes. But God decrees all for His own glory.


Sovereignty of God's Decree--He hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass


Nothing, absolutely nothing that occurs happens without God's foreordination. Now, this may come as a shock, particularly if you do not come from a confessional background (e.g., London Baptist Confession or Westminster Confession of Faith). However, it is biblical. The framers of the London Baptist Confession provide some additional light that is worth our attention.

God hath decreed in Himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God niether the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is vioence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree.--2LCF 3:1

A perfect example of this teaching is found in Peter's sermon at Pentecost. In Acts 2:23, "this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." Did you see how God moved in such a way that the death of His precious Son was definite, but the individuals were responsible for their sin? It is incredible, and God is glorious in His decrees.


APPLICATION


Now, I relish these theological truths. I love contemplating the divine sovereignty and providential rule God exercises over His creation. But how does this affect our daily lives?


Not surprisingly, it is incredibly valuable for our lives. Van Mastricht, a Dutch theologian from years ago, offers this practical blessing of God's decrees, "...a devout reflection upon the divine authority and power builds a solid confidence in which we securely commit ourselves, our goods, all our fortune, efforts and undertakings, to God." (van Mastricht, Theoretical-Practical Theology, Vol. 2: Faith in the Triune God, 450)


In other words, God is in control. While this does not absolve us from personal responsibility, it does mean that God is accomplishing His plans. Have you lost something dear to you? God has a reason for it. Do you ever wonder why so much evil abounds? God has a reason for it. Are you frustrated with your current circumstances? God has a reason for it.


Is God in charge? Yes, He absolutely is in complete charge. I close this section with words from John Piper.


"The providence of God--his purposeful sovereignty--is all-embracing, all-pervasive, and invincible. Therefore, God will be completely successful in the achievement of his ultimate goal for the universe." (John Piper, Providence, 691)