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A. WCF 5.1 God the great Creator of all things doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all
creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and
holy providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable
counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness,
1. One aspect of God\u2019s decree.
a. Creation sets the stage.
b. Providence is the unfolding of the plan.
2. It means foresight, to see ahead of time.
a. He doesn\u2019t need to look down the corridors of time.
b. God knows what will happen because He ordained it.
3. It includes several things:
a. Upholding all things in existence (Heb. 1:3).
b. Governing, controlling, disposing all things, moving them forward.
c. Absolute control over all things: all creatures and their actions.
d. All according to His infallible foreknowledge and the free and unchangeable counsel
4. The goal of His plan is His own glory.
a. To reveal His wisdom, power, justice, goodness and mercy.
b. To display these things before men and angels that they might praise Him.
2. The answer is,
a. God is sovereign, and yet man does make significant decisions.
b. Man makes choices that God determined, and God holds him responsible for those
1. \u201cAlthough, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first cause, all
things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, He orders
them to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or
contingently\u201d (WCF 5.2).
c. Q. What do we call that plan? His decree.
d. Q. With respect to God\u2019s foreknowledge, is it possible for anything that He knows
e. Q. To put it another way, is it possible for something to fail to come to pass that He
ordained would come to pass? A. No. Everything will turn out precisely as He
(i) A. This is the mystery of God\u2019s Providence. God has ordained that everything
He wants to take place will take place, but that they will all take place according
to how things work and the decisions that people make, without their being
(ii) The Confession says that \u201cHe orders them [all things that will ever happen in
this world] to fall out according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily,
freely, or contingently.\u201d
(ii) Second causes are things that have the power to cause certain effects as well.
(iii) God gives to His creatures the power of secondary causality \u2013 the power to
(i) A. God made certain things to do what they do. For instance, the sun shines.
The earth orbits the sun, the moon orbits the earth. The earth rotates. The
seasons change. It is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The leaves fall off
certain trees in the fall when it becomes cold. Seeds germinate when they have
enough water and warmth. Plants grow when they have enough water, nutrients
(b) \u201cThus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord of hosts is His name: \u2018If this fixed order departs from before Me,\u2019 declares the Lord, \u2018then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever\u2019\u201d (Jer. 31:35-36).
d. Q. What does the Confession mean by freely?
(i) A. God made other creatures, such as men and angels, who can make choices.
(ii) Yes, there are some things that they must do \u2013 men must eat and sleep \u2013 but they
(ii) The divines recognized that God\u2019s creatures don\u2019t act in a vacuum. We are all
affected by everything around us \u2013 by the sun and moon, the heat and cold, the
four seasons, the growth of certain plants and the failure of others, by the presence
of some things and the absence of others.
(iii) We are affected by those who are around us \u2013 by their words, by their actions, by the tone of their voice, the look of their faces, by their good will or bad will towards us.
a. All God has made operates according to how He has made it. And as the things He made do what they were made to do, and as those who can make choices make them freely (understanding that they are not free from the influences of these other things, but free in the sense that no one is forcing them to choose against their desires), all these things work together, to influence us and contribute to the choices we make, as well as the choices of all men and angels.
b. God is in control of all these things, but His sovereignty doesn\u2019t take away my
power of choice or the effect of those choices on other things (secondary causality),
but establishes that my choices will be significant and make a difference.
c. It\u2019s wrong then to say that since God has sovereignly ordained whatsoever comes to
pass, it doesn\u2019t matter what I do.
(i) The choices we make are a part of God\u2019s plan, just as much as any other part of
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