The Comfort in God’s Decrees (Mastricht)

Ephesians 1:11 is where Paul talks about predestination and “the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will…” (NET). This is a deep and rich phrase to say the least. It has to do with God’s eternal purpose and his will, two theology topics that lead to discussions of God’s sovereignty in all things. Speaking of God’s counsel and will, Petrus van Mastricht discussed this phrase (Eph. 1:11 above) in the beginning of his third volume of Theoretical-Practical Theology. It’s a great discussion! At the end of it Mastricht discusses the “uses” of this doctrine – or in today’s language, “application.” Here’s one paragraph by Mastricht that explains some application points concerning God’s sovereign decree.

…It belongs to this topic to wisely turn the contemplation of the divine decree to our own uses, namely:

(1) For reverence for God, conversion [turning/repentance], and flight from sin, before the decree brings forth the day of judgment on which we perish like chaff (Zeph. 2:2), before the decree suddenly speaks to us destruction (Jer. 18:7; Luke 19:42-43).

(2) For patience and peace of mind in all adversities which befall us or could befall us, because from the eternal immutability of the divine decree, nothing befalls us, nor can anythng come to us from any creatures no matter how powerful, except what the hand and counsel of God has decreed to occur (Acts 4:27-28; 2:23), and what will, from the wisdom of the same decree, and its goodness toward us, tend to nothing other than our advantage (Rom. 8:28).

(3) For confidence and peace in the matter of our salvation, because our redemption, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification rest upon the eternal, most wise, and imutable decree of God, that is, the solid foundation, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are his’ (2 Tim, 2:19; Rom. 8:29-30).

Petrus van Mastricht, Theoretical-Practical Theology, volume 3, page 21.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, Wi, 54015

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