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Chapter 3: Of God's Eternal Decree

The 1647 Westminster Confession of Faith

1. God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;a yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin,b nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.c

a. Rom 9:15, 18; 11:33; Eph 1:11; Heb 6:17. • b. James 1:13, 17; 1 John 1:5. • c. Prov 16:33; Mat 17:12; John 19:11; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28.

2. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions,a yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.b

a. 1 Sam 23:11-12; Mat 11:21, 23; Acts 15:18. • b. Rom 9:11, 13, 16, 18.

3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angelsa are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death.b

a. Mat 25:41; 1 Tim 5:21. • b. Prov 16:4; Rom 9:22-23; Eph 1:5-6.

4. These angels and men, thus predestinated and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it can not be either increased or diminished.a

a. John 13:18; 2 Tim 2:19.

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, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory,a 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;b and all to the praise of his glorious grace.c

a. Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4, 9, 11; 1 Thes 5:9; 2 Tim 1:9. • b. Rom 9:11, 13, 16; Eph 1:4, 9. • c. Eph 1:6, 12.

6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, fore-ordained all the means thereunto.a Wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,b are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified,c and kept by his power through faith unto salvation.d Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.e

a. Eph 1:4-5; Eph 2:10; 2 Thes 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2. • b. 1 Thes 5:9-10; Titus 2:14. • c. Rom 8:30; Eph 1:5; 2 Thes 2:13. • d. 1 Pet 1:5. • e. John 6:64-65; 8:47; 10:26; 17:9; Rom 8:28-39; 1 John 2:19.

7. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, 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.a

a. Mat 11:25-26; Rom 9:17-18, 21-22; 2 Tim 2:19-20; 1 Pet 2:8; Jude 1:4.

8. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care,a 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.b So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God;c and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the gospel.d

a. Deut 29:29; Rom 9:20. • b. 2 Pet 1:10. • c. Rom 11:33; Eph 1:6. • d. Luke 10:20; Rom 8:33; 11:5-6, 20; 2 Pet 1:10.


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