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A Sure and Certain Decree #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
April 25, 2024 12:00 am

A Sure and Certain Decree #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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April 25, 2024 12:00 am

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Welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hello, I'm Bill Wright. Thanks for joining us as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. Don begins a new message today, so without further delay, let's join him right now in the Truth Pulpit. I invite you to turn to the book of Isaiah, chapter 46. And as you're turning there, I would just remind you, and for those of you that are visiting, that we are in the midst of an extended series, Building a Christian Mind.

And we have covered many topics under that, and we have a few more topics to go. But right now, we are in the midst of a portion of this series that we are calling, How to Know that God Rules Over All. We say that God is great.

We sing that God is great. Well, just how great is He? And how great is His majesty?

And how great is His sovereignty? And those are things, and the answers to those kinds of questions go far, far deeper than what we are accustomed to realize and lift us beyond ourselves and into a realm of truth and a realm of majesty that is really higher than sinful creatures like you and I should be entitled to think. In Isaiah, chapter 46, we looked at this passage last time as part of our consideration, and I just refresh your memory with it. In Isaiah 46, verse 8, the prophet, speaking on behalf of Yahweh, says, Remember this and stand firm.

Recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the things of old. For I am God and there is no other. I am God and there is none like me, 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. God here is speaking and is establishing the fact that He developed a plan before the beginning of time, before the creation of the world, and it is His intention to carry it out.

He declared the end from the beginning. Every detail that we see unfolding in time that seems to be the result of nothing more than human choices and things of that nature, Scripture teaches us to think about them in an entirely different way, to realize that what we see and what has happened over the course of thousands of years of human history is the outworking of a divine plan which was in place from the very beginning. We said that the theological term for that great doctrine is the divine decree, and I will refresh your memory on the definition of that in just a moment, but we framed the discussion last week in this way. You all know what the first verse of the Bible is. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, Genesis 1.1.

We asked this question, which frames everything else. When God created the heavens and the earth, did He have a plan in mind for what would happen next, or did He just randomly decide to create things and then He would step back and see what happened as if it were some kind of toy that He had created that He wanted to watch what would happen, a cat and mouse kind of game? The obvious answer, if you think theologically at all, as you contemplate the glory of God, the omniscience of God, the wisdom of God, the obvious answer is, of course God had a plan in mind.

Of course God was intending to achieve a purpose by which that informed the creation of the heavens and the earth, and as the sovereign majesty overall, He did not leave Himself to be subject to the forces of human decisions or satanic opposition for the accomplishment of His will. God determined in advance everything that would happen, and the implications of that are vast for right thinking, for developing a Christian mind. Beloved, if you approach life from a sense that you are subject to forces that are beyond your control, you're not thinking rightly and you're not thinking according to biblical and Christian principles. If you are fearful of the future, afraid of what some person might do to you or what might happen to your health or your fortune, you're not thinking according to right biblical principles. The anxiety that you and I go through is an evidence that we have not let these things thoroughly and completely permeate our thinking and our being. And so it's very, very important for us to contemplate these things. If, stated another way, if you are to rightly understand your position in the universe, if you are to rightly understand why you exist and why God gave life to you and gave the specific life to you that you have now, you need to understand these things.

You must understand it from a right context. Where did you come from into what plan do you fit and what will be the outcome of these things? If we don't understand the source of all things, if we don't understand the goal of all things, then it's obvious that we don't have the first clue about what life is about and why we exist.

What we are considering, these doctrines that we are considering this week and in weeks to come, clarify all of those things for us. God had a long-term plan in place before creation. He had an eternal plan in mind and as we saw here in Isaiah 46, he knew exactly what was going to happen as the result of his creation. He is not responding to events like you and I are. He is completely ahead of the game. He is completely appointed what happened and everything is working according to the counsel of his will.

Everything is. He's not responding to surprises. He's not having to adjust to a plan B because of some mistake that you have made or some sin that you have committed or some change in direction in national or international history brought about by wicked world rulers. God is not like a man and he does not think like a man. His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and so we should not attribute our weakness and uncertainty as we go through life day by day.

We should not attribute those man-centered perspectives onto the holy uncreated God of the universe who said, I declare the end from the beginning. Now look, beloved, in the things that we've just said, we have introduced a colossal collision between the way the world thinks and the way that Scripture tells us to think. And if it seems like we're talking about mighty themes, great and mighty themes from the Word of God, we are. We're talking about the highest and loftiest themes that there are for a man or woman to contemplate.

And beloved, these things are foundational to everything else as you will see. The theological name for what we're discussing, that divine plan in place before the beginning of time, is the divine decree. The divine decree. And in colloquial terms, you could say that God has an eternal plan that he is certainly working out in every detail of the universe. God has an eternal plan that he is certainly working out in every detail of the universe. Everything that you see, everything that you read, everything that happens in life, in nations, in your private life, all of those things are part of the outworking of the divine decree.

To state it perhaps a little more theologically, the decree of God is his eternal plan in which he foreordained all things that would ever come to pass. You are here today, beloved, as a result of the divine decree. God appointed you to be here on this day to see these scriptures, to hear this message in this place in this time in this century in this year in this month on this day. We are here by divine appointment.

Every aspect of life is like that, but the urgency of it is increased all the more when we open the word of this eternal God and contemplate what he teaches us in his word and causes us to contemplate ourselves in light of the divine presence and in light of the divine plan. We are standing on holy ground. It is fitting metaphorically at least to take off our shoes and recognize the holiness of what we are contemplating here as we gather together here this morning. We stand on holy ground.

We remove our shoes. We say, Lord, speak through your word and by your spirit to us because your servant listens. If I can give you an easy to understand illustration to show the necessity of this. Again, every illustration when you talk about divine things is compromised.

It's faulty. It cannot be pressed too far, but just general things can help us contemplate things rightly. If you've ever walked by a major construction site, perhaps in a city watching a skyscraper go up and being built from the ground up and they dig out a big foundation and pour it and then raise the building on top of it over the course of months and sometimes years. Think of a construction of a building like that, beloved, and understand this. The contractors who are doing that work are working according to previously prepared architectural plans.

They're not working things out in a random way and just slopping up materials in any way. There are precise plans for every thing that goes into that and they are working according to a previously prepared plan that has in mind the end goal of that 60 story high rise building. The blueprints guide the work that is done as they are rightly being worked out. Well, in a much greater way, in a far more holy and significant way, the divine decree is the blueprint that God established by which the things of the world and the things of the universe would operate. And he says, I declare the end from the beginning. God knows what will happen because he appointed it to happen. And so last time we looked at a couple of points.

I'm going to review those quickly and then see if we can't get through the remaining five here today. What can we say about the decree of God? Last time we saw point number one. The decree is diverse and yet it is only one. God is one. His mind is perfectly unified and therefore his plan is the outworking of a single divine mind, a single divine operation of the divine will. And yet, as we look on the universe, we see an infinite complexity to it.

You know, billions and billions of people, trillions and trillions of creatures and the passage of thousands and thousands of years and every detail in between. The decree that God appointed is one coming from one mind and yet it is comprehensive and therefore it is diverse in everything that it includes. We saw from Ephesians chapter 1 verse 11, and I'm just quoting a portion of the verse here, but it says that God works all things according to the counsel of his will.

All things, plural, without exception, his will, singular, coming from the exercise of divine volition to accomplish what he wants. Secondly, we said that the decree is eternal, by which we mean that he established it before the beginning of time. God planned all things before time even began. Before Genesis 1-1, God had set into purpose, God had established his purpose for everything that would follow. There's a sense in which, as you look at Genesis 1-1 through the end of Revelation 22, you read and we see the progress of Revelation and we read how God unfolded his revelation over the course of some 1,500 years through 40 different authors, all inspired by the Holy Spirit and producing an inerrant, infallible single book.

We read it from that perspective. Beloved, understand that God saw all of that from before the beginning of time. God was not working things out. God wasn't figuring things out as they went along. God already knew these things and simply revealed them to man over the course of time. The decree is eternal, meaning God planned all things before time began. Last time we looked at 2 Timothy 1 verse 9 and it says this, 2 Timothy 1-9, he saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works, but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.

He gave this to us. He established his purpose in Christ Jesus before the ages began. This is a matter of eternity. This is a matter outside of time itself. It's very difficult for us to comprehend those things because time is the only realm of existence that we know. That so great, so majestic is our God that he dwells outside of even time. Even time does not put constraints on the God of Scripture. The decree is eternal. He saw the end from the beginning.

He established the end from the beginning. Everything that we see in life is an outworking of that great purpose. Now, with that little bit of review out of the way, let's go to our third point here. Stay with me as we go through these things because there will certainly be profound personal application for these things at the end. Also, let me encourage you, let me encourage you that this is the kind of message that I really encourage you and ask you and beseech you to listen to multiple times because you do not acquire the fullness of this and understand it deeply in your heart just on a superficial passing in a distracted period of 60 minutes of listening.

These things take time to apply yourself to. This is what we should expect. The great things of God we should expect to take time and effort to apply ourselves to understand. God is beyond our comprehension. He is great.

He is lofty. He has attributes that cannot be communicated or fully understood by men. We just take halting efforts in accordance with his revelation to try to understand certain things about them truly even if we don't know them exhaustively. Well, beloved, on something like this, it takes some time and effort to do and to apply it.

And it is your responsibility to come to grips with these things and to study and to meditate on them so that the goal of developing in you a Christian mind could be advanced by the truth of God. So, with those things in mind, our third point, we saw first of all the decree is diverse, yet it is one. The decree is eternal.

It pre-existed time itself. Thirdly, the decree is fixed. The decree is fixed by which we mean it is sure. It is certain to come to pass. The decree is fixed.

It is a sure and certain decree. And all we mean by that for today's purposes is this, is that God's plan does not change based on whims of time or history. Things that happen in the course of human time that seem to be catastrophic, seem to be unexpected, is not a surprise to God. It's not something new to God. It's not something that he has to adjust to a new circumstances and come up with a plan B. Beloved, understand this. Sometimes you'll hear even good Bible teachers talk about God's plan B.

You should never speak that way. You should never speak that way because that is an assault on the eternity and the knowledge and the plan and the decree of God. Of course God doesn't have a plan B because he's sovereignly working out his original plan all along. And we see this, for example, and I'm just going to read a couple of verses to you in Psalm 33 verse 11. Psalm 33 verse 11 where we read, the counsel of the Lord stands forever. The plans of his heart to all generations. Beloved, what God planned originally is flung forward through the millennia of human existence and every aspect of his plan is fully established, fully carried out as men come and go, as nations rise and fall.

His counsel stands forever. It's hard for us to understand because especially parents of young children experience day by day the fact that they make plans and things happen and it goes a different direction. Some people had plans for marriage, the engagement breaks off and life goes a different direction.

You think you've got a long-term career someplace, events or people intervene and it changes and you don't have your plans anymore. This is different. This is distinct. This is sanctified.

This is holy. This is something separate that we're talking about which is what we would expect. God is distinct and separate and above us. He is not subject to the whims of human time. He is not subject to change.

He is not the slave of circumstance. He's not figuring things out as he goes along as some really bad forms of open theism teach. God isn't figuring things out as he goes along.

He's not watching what happens and then responding. That's horrible theology. That's ridiculous, blasphemous theology.

No one should think that way with a Christian mind. The counsel of the Lord stands forever in the plans of his heart to all generations. In the New Testament in James chapter 1 verse 17 we read this, every good gift and every perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

God gives to us. He gives to us according to his eternal plan. His intentions do not vary.

They do not change. There aren't shadows due to a shifting character in him nor because he's responding to surprises that he did not anticipate. Nothing surprises him, beloved. He's omniscient. He knows all things. Psalm 139 says that he knows what's on your tongue before a word of it comes out of your mouth. He knows when you rise and when you sit down.

Nothing surprises him. And so you and I, when life surprises us, we have to process that in some ways on two different levels. One, we process it on a human level and work through the thought that this isn't what I planned. This isn't what I wanted.

This isn't what I anticipated. And we work that out on a human level. But then we go further.

We go further. We ask God for grace in the midst of the changing circumstances. And then we go still further beyond that, and we remind ourselves and we worship God and we honor him, saying, God, this was not a surprise to you.

This is somehow part of your plan, even though I did not see it coming. And all of a sudden, you are responding to life in a completely different realm. Rather than responding on the basis of your fickle emotions and your changing patterns of life, you're responding to it according to what the truth is. And the truth is that God is sovereign over this. He has appointed it.

He has foreordained it. It has passed through his hands and his wisdom to reach you. In Proverbs 16, you can turn there. There's a couple of verses I want to point out to you in Proverbs 16. We see repeatedly the contrast between our plans and what the purpose of the Lord is.

Let me just point you to two verses. Proverbs 16, verse 4, the Lord has made everything for its purpose. Everything that we see, everything that we do not see in the visible and the invisible realms, tangible and intangible, past, present, and future, everything is established by God with a purpose that he has in mind, so much so that Solomon goes on to say, even the wicked for the day of trouble, that even the wicked do not work outside the foreordained plan of God. Then in verse 9 of Proverbs 16, the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. We plan our lives, we plan our days, and it's right and good that we should. God honors good planning, but the outworking, the conclusion, the result of all of our plans is in the hands of the Lord who establishes our steps.

The decree is fixed. God does not have to adapt to something unexpected. He is not like us. Beloved, let me just say that again in this context. It's so important to see and to understand. You and I are constantly responding to things that have changed from what we expected them to be, constantly. That's the only thing that we know is to respond to changing circumstances in life. When it comes to thinking about God and the way that the universe works, we have to say, but that's not the way that God is. That's not the way that it works in the realm of the divine mind and the divine purpose. God knows he fixed it, and he works out his plan without surprise, without disappointment, without fail, in any single detail. So much so that Scripture says that he's appointed the days that he prepared for us, when as yet there were not any of them.

Your days are fixed. God has determined the length of your life before it began. There's a sense in which it's right to say that we're immortal until our day comes. So the decree is fixed. The decree is one.

It's diverse. The decree is eternal. Beloved, what should be sinking into your mind is a growing awareness like this that says what is happening is unfolding from something that God established. My life is not random. My life is not without purpose, even if I don't fully understand what that purpose is.

Things are working out according to what God established them to be, and that changes your entire perspective on all of life. Now, fourthly, the decree is free. The decree is free.

And what I mean is not that the decree is without charge. Rather, what we mean by that is that God established his decree free from any kind of outside influence or outside constraint. This is a statement about the complete independence and sovereignty of God. Nothing that he determined to happen was because someone told him to do it that way. God is free from that.

Nothing happened because God was obligated to act in any particular way toward any particular man, woman, or child. God is not under any obligation to any of us. He is free. He is sovereign. He is creator. We do not constrain him.

We do not lay obligation on him that he must respond to. No, far to the contrary, God is absolutely free and sovereign in everything that he wants to do. Turn in your Bibles to Isaiah chapter 40 with me. Isaiah chapter 40.

In Isaiah chapter 40, beginning in verse 12, we read this. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? He created the earth, established all of the boundaries, with precision measured out the dust of the earth, with precision measured the weight of the mountains, with precision balanced the hills across the entire globe. Verse 13. Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket and are accounted as the dust on the scales.

Behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust. Beloved, in light of creation, in light of the purpose of God, look and drink in deeply from what verse 14 is saying. Who did God consult with? This is reminiscent of Job 38 to 41 when God lays forth all of these things before Job and says, were you there when I created the stars? Were you there when I established Leviathan in the depths of the sea? Were you there when I created other things? All Job could do is say, no, no, no, no.

You know what? I am not an equal disputant here. I had an argument against you God, but when you display yourself, when you glorify yourself like this, when I am thinking rightly, I see all I can do is shut my mouth and bow before you in repentance and worship. That's Don Green here on The Truth Pulpit. And here's Don again with some closing thoughts. Well, my friend, before we go after today's broadcast, I just want to invite you to look me up on Facebook, Don Green on Facebook.

I often make original posts. I make comments about ministry and other matters of biblical importance there that do not make their way into this broadcast. And so if you are on Facebook, I invite you to join me. Look for Don Green and join us on Facebook for another way to connect with our ministry. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us next time for more as we continue teaching God's people God's Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-25 04:54:44 / 2024-04-25 05:04:47 / 10

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