In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. In previous articles we’ve been looking at the decrees of God: what God has planned and then wills to happen. We particularly saw that God decrees some humans to have eternal life and some to eternal wrath. If this is the case, the question is raised how does God determine who is destined for eternal life and who is destined for eternal wrath?
God decrees what will happen to humans according to his own pleasure. This is what Paul speaks of in Ephesians: ‘For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves’ (Ephesians 1:4-6). Why did God choose you to be one of his children in Jesus Christ? Because he was pleased to do so.
Also, God decrees what will happen to humans because of his will. Notice that was mentioned in the previous verses quoted. But it is also mentioned again later in the passage from Ephesians: ‘In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory’ (Ephesians 1:11-12). Why did God choose you to be one of his children in Christ Jesus? Because he willed that it should be so.
The reasons behind God’s decrees are hard for us to understand. Particularly because it means that ultimately it had nothing to do with you that you became a Christian, it was all to do with God. It was not because of your pleasure or your will that you become a Christian, it is first and foremost because of God’s pleasure and will.
Now that doesn’t mean that God drags you into heaven kicking and screaming against his pleasure and will. God works together with your will so that his pleasure and will ultimately becomes your pleasure and will.
So do you humbly recognise that you are Christian only because of God’s pleasure and will?