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Catechism Buzz: Not to hit us in the mouth

01 April 2011 by Brad Williams

Q. 13. What has God especially decreed concerning angels and men?

A. God, by an eternal and immutable decree, out of his mere love, for the praise of his glorious grace, to be manifested in due time, has elected some angels to glory; and in Christ has chosen some men to eternal life, and the means thereof: and also, according to his sovereign power, and the unsearchable counsel of his own will, (whereby he extends or withholds favor as he pleases,) has passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonor and wrath, to be for their sin inflicted, to the praise of the glory of his justice.

How do you take your decrees? What sort of lapsarian are you? Do you take your decrees with a side of Supra? Infra? Are you an Amyraldian? If you have no idea what any of that means, then there may yet be hope for you to get through this post without having an apoplexy. If you do understand what those things mean, then I beg you to understand that it is my hope to post devotionally on God's prerogatives as God, not just cerebrally. Give me some space here; I'm a Baptist.

As a man who is deeply affected in all parts by the rebellion of Adam, I temper my approach to the sovereign authority of God with great trepidation. I have serious authority issues due to my constant desire to usurp God and be my own god. So, even if God had decreed something inane like peanut butter and jelly for March 12th, I would want ham and eggs that day. How much more shall I shake my fist over His pleasure in election?

Instead of quarreling with God over His own business of running the world however He likes, I'd like to try something different. I do not believe that God inspired Paul to write about foreknowledge, predestination, sovereignty, and election so that you and I would get sick worrying about our children and the fate of Joe Pagan in the heart of Africa who has never heard the gospel. I know that the Holy Spirit isn't interested in hearing about how free our will is in response to reading Ephesians chapter one. So what did he tell us all this stuff for?

Look at Revelation 13:1-10. Seriously, look at it. It's full of lions, leopards, and bears, oh my! There's even a dragon. All these terrible, powerful, beastly predators are smashing, thrashing, and devouring the Saints of God. And how is the hero of chapter 13 described? He's a lamb?! Are you kidding me? We have a beastly lion, leopard, bear thing backed by a dragon and we get a lamb? And look at the decree! "If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes, if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword he must be slain" (Rev. 13:10). Are we getting that fuzzy, warm, devotional feeling yet? Is it possible that God would decree that I be slain by a sword-bearing blasphemer? How is that encouraging? (Acts 14:22).

Here's the point: God isn't aiming to hit us in our rebellious mouth with His decrees; He aims to comfort our hearts. I need God to be sovereign over my salvation in every way He can be. I know my heart. I do not want an offer of salvation; I want a salvation accomplished. If a seven-headed, ten-horned beast kicks in my door and threatens myself and my family with the sword, I want to know that I am in the embrace of a sovereign God who marked my going in and coming out from the foundation of the world. I want to wear the badge of "elect of God" in that time, and I want to know in that moment that my position in Christ isn't as fickle as my faith or as precarious as my circumstance. I want to feel the power of these words, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine" (Isaiah 43:1). This is fore-ordination. This is the joy of predestination and election. I have been summoned by name; I have been bought by Christ; I have been fashioned for honor, and everything that befalls me is ordained for my good, for my joy, and to redound to God's glory so much so that upon my redemption the angels of heaven shouted with joy.

Beloved, God has been moved by mere love to save you. He is ready and willing to save. I hold Him to that. I pray it over my precious babies. I trust my God to do what is good and right, and I work each day to subdue that rebel who would question or scoff at the decrees of my Sovereign Lord.