This is cannibalized from my book: The Divine Decrees(2007, 2013). This book was mainly about going over Jonathan Edwards book: “The Divine Decrees in General and Election in Particular.” I showed how Edward’s was a supralapsarian in the doctrine of God’s decrees broadly, but tried to make a hybrid in the particular points. Therefore, Gordon Clark and Vincent Cheung are better at teaching on this topic, for they are consistent to a logical order. Thus, this original appendix was the result from studying all three individuals.
This is an important aspect of Christian ontology and so I wanted to put a basic essay on this topic here. The order of God’s decrees is in philosophy jargon, the logic of ontology. It is the logical order of how God directly controls all reality.
Defining the terms:
With the assumption that most who have an interest in this Biblical doctrine will know the terms supralapsarian and infralapsarian, I shall move on; and if you do not know, these will be explain in context through other terms. These terms are loaded terms and so I will prefer not to use them, but I do mention them so that some might have a vague reference point of where I am coming from. The lack of this distinction of God’s purpose or goals and historical execution has caused more than a small amount of confusion. Let us remedy this.
When God’s decrees are laid out from Top to bottom or that is, when they are laid out from the perspective of what God chose as His goals first, then we call this the, “Purpose perspective.” This is what some know as supralapsarian.
When God’s decrees are laid out from the Bottom up or that is, when they are penned down from the perspective of executing His goals we call this, “historical perspective.” Although, in the truest since this is not a description of decrees; rather, it is the execution of the decrees: that is, it is the historical execution of God’s intended goals.
In our reach for a complete biblical understanding of God’s decrees we need to have the purpose order, for it is the natural meaning of decreeing or planning. The perspective of God’s “purpose” is greater not only because it is the natural meaning to plan something, but also the historical order is derived from it. In fact, when we think about an all Sovereign God planning, (not reacting) is this not in terms of choosing ones goals first? This is why the perspective of God’s goals or purpose in the Decrees are so important and to which the Bible addresses. I would even go as far to say the historical perspective of God is an incorrect doctrine, if left by itself, because in light of an all Sovereign God “decrees” naturally point to purpose rather than history. Without the “purpose” perspective in the decree the historical perspective turns God into a God of reaction rather than a God of total sovereign design and working out His original intended goal from top to bottom. Likewise, without the historical, the purpose perspective looks incomplete for the God’s decrees regard why and how God ordered public reality.
Regarding the purpose or goal perspective what God chose as His first goal is last in execution, and what God purposed last in his goals comes first in execution or history. I will explain this more.
Take for example a kid after thinking about life decides he wants to be a great baseball player. This is his first “purpose,” or goal that is. His second choice to support the first is that he needs to be an All Star baseball player, so that he can be a great player. Thus, his third choice in purpose is to get great averages in hitting (etc.) so that he gets chosen to be an All Star. His next is purpose is to be drafted to play in the Major League. His next purpose is to start playing baseball at his local high school. See, what he first intended was accomplished last in order, while that which was purposed last was accomplished first in history or in execution. Ecclesiastes 7:8, “The end of a thing is better than its beginning,” because the end was the original goal.
This analogy with the baseball player is in the perspective of “purpose.”
For the sake of argument, what is important is that both are to be taught from scripture and that the “purpose” be ordered Top to Bottom and the “historical” be ordered from Bottom to Top. The purpose order needs to be shown as the natural meaning of God Decreeing and the historical order as the effect of this being executed. (Or in an argument, The purpose (p) is the antecedent, and the historical is the consequent(q)) The lists need to make sense when read in either direction, whether from the perspective of purpose, or from the perspective of execution. Furthermore, the decrees encompass all things, so it is impossible for a simple list to include everything. Depending on what topic or doctrine I was teaching on I could focus or bring to light these in the decrees: both in the purpose or historical. What needs to happen is someone puts emphasis on God’s election in a historical perspective and then they emphasize God’s election in the purpose perspective in another sermon or book, then the ordering needs to agree with each other.
Below is a simple list of decrees. The first section is from God’s Purpose perspective (top to bottom) and the second is the Historical perspective (bottom up.) You will see how the second list mirrors the first so that what is decreed first in Purpose is executed last in order Execution.
TOP DOWN, ORDER of PURPOSE
1.) Glory. God decrees out of delight in Himself, to create the full displaying of His Glory in a public creation. God decrees to do this particularly by creating the world for His Son: that is, for His Son to be the only living fountain, the Head, the first born, central axis, the Preeminence in all things in His public universe; the invisible God glorifies Himself by making His Son the Public Supremacy.
2.) Jesus Christ. God decrees to elect Christ to become the Central public-Person; that is, He becomes the preeminence before a public audience. Therefore, God decrees to elect His Son to be the uniting-savior for a special group, and likewise for the sake of this first group God elects Christ to be a Rock for which another group will be crushed upon. His uniting-mercy given to one group will lead them to be in the perfect place live in public-joyful love to Christ, and the damnation for another group will support this. Thus, Christ is elected to be glorified as the central dividing line for all public minds, both human and spiritual, because by this Christ becomes the Central pubic Supremacy.
3.) Election. God then Decrees to unconditionally elect and give infinite happiness to a certain number of persons by unconditionally electing them for and through His Son for salvation; and furthermore, by this they are given both existence and the guarantee for eternal happiness, for from infinite happiness by them being for His Son’s glory by being in His Son, God thought of a certain number. Furthermore, God elects a certain number of others who He will not show His love to; rather, He decrees to support those in His Son those this certain number: this supporting is by having His wrath and justice displayed one day in them. (Before the twins were born or had done good or bad choices it is written: Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.) Both will be, for there is no other power in the metaphysical.
4.) The Fall. To imprison the whole human race to the slavery of sin and disobedience—so that the pervious decree of unconditional elect practically works out, so that the previous decree of Jesus’ public Saving and judging comes into fruition, so that Christ becomes the central-public-supremacy in a rejoicing public audience who are untied to Him.
5.) Creation. God decrees to bring into being a grand universe suitable and perfect for the grand exhibition of God’s glory through Christ’s public supremacy.
BOTTOM UP, ORDER of EXECUTION
6.) Creation. God decrees to bring into being a grand universe suitable for the grand displaying of His glory; a gift worthy for His only Son, by giving Christ public supremacy.
7.) The Fall. God decrees to imprison the whole human race to the slavery of sin and disobedience, by creating Adam in such a way he would not be able to rest all temptations.
8.) Election/calling. I say election, but at this point, because we are in history it would be more apt to call it summing or calling. God now elects or summons for mercy from the disobedient human race the particular people, whom He decreed originally to crown with His infinite love. Furthermore, to fulfill His election of the reprobate, God now chooses the level of wickedness that each vessel of wrath will fall while on earth.
9.) Jesus Christ. In order to accomplish the election of Christ, God calls His Son, to come into the world and provide perfect righteousness, complete forgiveness, and the purchasing of the Holy Spirit for so by this costly mercy and special uniting the elect becomes the perfect audience to ascribe the best eternal love and public praise unto Christ’s supremacy: and likewise, God calls Christ to be a rock for which the non-elect will be crushed upon for the praise of His Son’s supremacy. The result is that Christ becomes the historical and future center point of the universe before a public audience best suited for His praise, by their enjoyment of Him.
10.) Glory. The sending of His Son a second time for the final and compete separation of the people of wrath and children of His love, so that Jesus will have all evil closed off from His presence and the final intimate gathering of His chosen people (and all elect creatures) to Himself—to the Father. In this Jesus truly becomes the Public Supremacy before all public eyes, and in becoming so He (the image of the Father) causes His invisible Father to be glorified as the Supremacy.
Ephesians 1:9, “having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth-in Him.”
Colossians 1:18, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Supremacy).”
1 John 4:9, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Proverbs 16:4, “The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.”
Romans 9:21, “Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? 22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 (namely) that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory.”
Romans 11:27, “For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?” “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.“
In this Romans 11 passage we read, “For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all, [that is, “take away their sins”].”
The phrase “that He might have mercy” is a referring to the purpose perspective. The “so that” is speaking of a prior decree. In particular it is speaking of the prior decree of election or mercy for a certain number. If it helps recall the analogy I wrote earlier: Take for example a kid after thinking about life decides he wants to be a great baseball player. This is his first “purpose,” or intention, or goal that is. His second choice to support the first is that he needs to be an All Star baseball player, so that he can be a great player. Thus, his third choice in purpose is to get great averages in hitting (etc.) so that he gets chosen to be an All Star.
Not all “so thats” in the bible are about the order of God’s decree from the perspective of purpose, but it can be if the context is regarding that subject as this passage is. What we see is that God electing some to mercy is before the decree of the fall from the purpose perspective ordering. Understand? I use this as an example to show the Bible does speaks on these issues. In fact Eph. 1:9-10 gives us the first and second decree of purpose. Herein the second decree of Christ being the central Supremacy with a public audience is spoken of, and we know it is second because it reads “all things in Christ – in Him.” The, “in Him,” is referring to the first or the prior decree of the Father wanting His glory to go public.
Furthermore, another example may be found in Romans 8:29, when it says, “For whom He foreknew(i.e. fore-loved), He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Here, as in the previous scripture the “that” is indeed indicating a previous decree, for this is the context of the passage. The model of the decrees I have in this essay showed Christ’s public supremacy before a public audience was decreed before election. God decreed the creating of loved vessels and electing into His Son for the very reason of fulfilling the previous decree of Christ’s public supremacy by being the first born. This verse clearly shows that order. (Decree 3) God for-loved and predestined many to be conformed to His Son’s image, (decree 2) so that He might full His previous choice to give His Son public preeminence, so that (decree 1) God fulfill His pervious choice that He might fully glorify Himself through His Son. Moreover, in the next verse the “predestination” still refers to the “purpose order,” but starting with “being called” to the end of the verse the order is in historical, which can been seen in the order I have in this essay.