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Catechism Buzz: Ordered the Whole Universe

28 March 2011 by Matt Gumm

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.

I've heard variations on the "God uses means" answer for a variety of theological questions and objections, and it has always left me unsatisfied. To me, "God uses means" as an answer was on par with the answer of "42" for the question "what is the meaning of life?" It is an answer, but it doesn't really tell me anything.

The Westminster Confession says this:
As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

To keep this brief, God is sovereign over all aspects of salvation, and in this, He chooses not only who to save but how they will be saved.

He has not left anything to chance. His plan to save the elect—to save them (among whom I hope you are and I trust in Christ that I am)—is so specific, that He ordered the entire universe to accomplish it. Events unfold so that all those He chose from the beginning will actually come to faith.

There are two great things about this plan. First, that God can do all this for us, and not make it about us. It is still about Him bringing Himself glory.

Second, God's use of means lets us have a part in this plan. We have seen the means, and we are them. He could have chosen any number of ways to spread His kingdom. He chose to use you and me as His means to do it. It makes what I intended to do today look a little soft around the middle.