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Episode 49 — Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 3: Of God’s Eternal Decree, Sections 5 – 8

Series: Westminster Confession of Faith

This week Randy Johovich, Don Maurer, and Marlin Klingensmith complete a discussion of chapter 3 of the Westminster Confession of Faith. They discuss sections 5 through 8 of the chapter: Of God’s Eternal Decree.

Running time: 44:36

Click here for 49: Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 3: Of God’s Eternal Decree, Sections 5 through 8

Program notes: The following are quoted in this discussion.

Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter 3: Of God’s Eternal Decree

Section 5. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace.

Psalm 33:11

The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.

2 Timothy 2:19

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,”….

Ephesians 1:3-4

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love….

Revelation 13:8

…and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

Romans 3:21

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law….

Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter 3: Of God’s Eternal Decree

Section 6. As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has 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.

Romans 10:17

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter 3: Of God’s Eternal Decree

Section 7. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.

Westminster Confession of Faith

Chapter 3: Of God’s Eternal Decree

Section 8. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.

Matthew 7:6 (NKJV)

Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine….

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 21

Human curiosity renders the discussion of predestination, already somewhat difficult of itself, very confusing and even dangerous. No restraints can hold it back from wandering in forbidden bypaths and thrusting upward to the heights. If allowed, it will leave no secret to God that it will not search out and unravel. Since we see so many on all sides rushing into this audacity and impudence, among them certain men not otherwise bad, they should in due season be reminded of the measure of their duty in this regard.

First, then, let them remember that when they inquire into predestination they are penetrating the sacred precincts of divine wisdom. If anyone with carefree assurance breaks into this place, he will not succeed in satisfying his curiosity and he will enter a labyrinth from which he can find no exit. For it is not right for man unrestrainedly to search out things that the Lord has willed to be hid in himself, and to unfold from eternity itself the sublimest wisdom, which he would have us revere but not understand that through this also he should fill us with wonder. He has set forth by his Word the secrets of his will that he has decided to reveal to us. These he decided to reveal in so far as he foresaw that they would concern us and benefit us.

… For we shall know that the moment we exceed the bounds of the Word, our course is outside the pathway and in darkness, and that there we must repeatedly wander, slip, and stumble. Let this, therefore, first of all be before our eyes: to seek any other knowledge of predestination than what the Word of God discloses is not less insane than if one should purpose to walk in a pathless waste [cf. Job 12:24], or to see in darkness. And let us not be ashamed to be ignorant of something in this matter, wherein there is a certain learned ignorance. Rather, let us willingly refrain from inquiring into a kind of knowledge, the ardent desire for which is both foolish and dangerous, nay, even deadly. But if a wanton curiosity agitates us, we shall always do well to oppose to it this restraining thought: just as too much honey is not good, so for the curious the investigation of glory is not turned into glory [Proverbs 25:27, cf. Vg.]. For there is good reason for us to be deterred from this insolence which can only plunge us into ruin.

Ephesians 2:8-10

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 1:11-12

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

Numbers 23:19

God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

2 Timothy 2:19

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

1 Thessalonians 3:3

…that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.

Genesis 50:20

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

1 Samuel 23:14

And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.

Philippians 2:27

Indeed [Epaphroditus] was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him….

Acts 13:29-30

29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead….

Ephesians 2:1,4-5

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ….

John 6:37

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

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