God Has A
It is unthinkable that a
God of infinite wisdom and power would create a world without a
definite plan for that world. And because God is thus infinite His plan
must extend to every detail of the world's existence. If we could see
the world in all its relations, past, present, and future, we would see
that it is following a predetermined course with exact precision. Among
created things we may search where we will, as far as the microscope
and the telescope will enable the eye to see, we find organization
everywhere. Large forms resolve themselves into parts, and these parts
in their turn are but organized of other parts down as far as we can
see into infinity.
Even man, who is but the creature of a day and subject to all kinds of
errors, develops a plan before he acts; and a man who acts without
design or purpose is accounted foolish. Before we make a trip or
undertake a piece of work all of us set our goal and then work to
attain that goal in so far as we are able. Regardless of how some
people may oppose Predestination in theory, all of us in our every-day
lives are practical predestinarians. As E. W. Smith says, a wise man
"first determines upon the end he desires to attain, and then upon the
best means of attaining it. Before the architect begins his edifice, he
makes his drawings and forms his plans, even to the minutest details of
construction. In the architect's brain the building stands complete in
all its parts before a stone is laid. So with the merchant, the lawyer,
the farmer, and all rational and intelligent men. Their activity is
along the line of previously formed purposes, the fulfillment, so far
as their finite capacities will allow, Of preconceived plans." (The
Creed of Presbyterians, p. 159.)
The larger our enterprise is, the more important it is that we shall
have a plan; otherwise all our work ends in failure. One would be
considered mentally deranged who undertook to build ship, or a
railroad, or to govern a nation without a plan. We are told that before
Napoleon began the invasion of Russia he had a plan worked out in
detail, showing what line of march each division of his army was to
follow, where it was to be at a certain time, what equipment and
provisions it was to have, etc. Whatever was wanting in that plan was
due to the limitations of human power and wisdom. Had Napoleon's
foresight been perfect and his control of events absolute, his plan --
or we may say, his foreordination -- would have extended to every act
of every soldier who made that march.
And if this is true of man, how much more is it true of God! "A
universe without decrees," says A. J. Gordon. "would be as irrational
and appalling as would be an express train driving on in the darkness
without headlight or engineer, and with no certainty that the next
moment it might not plunge into the abyss." We cannot conceive of God
bringing into existence a universe without a plan which would extend to
all that would be done in that universe. As the Scriptures teach that
God's providential control extends to all events, even the most minute,
they thereby teach that His plan is equally comprehensive. It is one of
His perfections that He has the best possible plan, and that He
conducts the course of history to its appointed end. And to admit that
He has a plan which He carries out is to admit Predestination. "God's
plan is shown in its effectuation to be one," says Dabney. "Cause is
linked with effect, and what was effect becomes cause; the influences
of events on events interlace with each other, and descend in widening
streams to subsequent events; so that the whole complex result is
through every part. As astronomers suppose that the removal of one
planet from our system would modify more or less the balance and orbits
of all the rest, so the failure of one event in this plan would derange
the whole, directly or indirectly." (Theology. p. 214.)
If God had not foreordained the course of events but waited until some
undetermined condition was or was not fulfilled, His decrees could be
neither eternal nor immutable. We know, however, that He is incapable
of mistake, and that He cannot be surprised by any unforeseen
inconveniences. His kingdom is in the heavens and He rules over all.
His plan must, therefore, include every event in the entire sweep of
That even the small events have their place in this plan. and that they
must be as they are, is easily seen. All of us know of certain "chance
happenings" which have actually changed the course of our lives. The
effects of these extend throughout all succeeding history in
ever-widing influences, causing other "chance happenings." It is said
that the quacking of some geese once saved Rome. Whether historically
true or not it will serve as a good illustration. Had not the geese
awakened the guards who gave the alarm and aroused the defending army,
Rome would have fallen and the course of history from that time on
would have been radically different. Had those geese remained silent
who can imagine what empires might have been in existence today, or
where the centers of culture might have been? During a battle a bullet
misses the general by only an inch. His life is spared, he goes on
commanding his troops, wins a decisive victory, and is made the chief
ruler of his country for many years,--as was the case with George
Washington. Yet what a different course history would have taken had
the soldier on the other side aimed the slightest trifle higher or
lower! The great Chicago fire of 1871, which destroyed more than I half
of the city, was started, we are told, when a cow kicked over a
lantern. How different would have been the history of Chicago if that
one motion had been slightly different! "The control of the greatest
must include the control of the less, for not only are great things
made up of little things, but history shows how the veriest trifles are
continually proving the pivots on which momentous events revolve. The
persistence of a spider nerved a despairing man to fresh exertions
which shaped a nation's future. The God who predestinated the course of
Scotch history must have planned and presided over the movements of
that tiny insect that saved Robert Bruce from despair." (The Creed of
Presbyterians, p. 160.) Examples of this kind could be multiplied
The Pelagian denies that God has a plan; the Arminian says that God has
a general but not a specific plan; but the Calvinist says that God has
a specific plan which embraces all events in all ages. In recognizing
that the eternal God has an eternal plan in which is predetermined
every event that comes to pass, the Calvinist simply recognizes that
God is God, and frees Him from all human limitations. The Scriptures
represent God as a person, like other persons in that His acts are
purposeful, but unlike other persons in that He is all-wise in His
planning and all-powerful in His performing. They see the universe as
the product of His creative power, and as the theater in which are
displayed His glorious perfections, and which must in all its form and
all its history, down to the least detail, correspond with His purpose
in making it.
In a very illuminating article on "Predestination," Dr. Benjamin B.
Warfield, who in the opinion of the present writer has emerged as the
outstanding theologian since John Calvin, tells us that the writers of
Scripture saw the divine plan as "broad enough to embrace the whole
universe of things, and minute enough to concern itself with the
smallest details, and actualizing itself with inevitable certainty in
every event that comes to pass." "In the infinite wisdom of the Lord of
all the earth, each event falls with exact precision into its proper
place in this unfolding of His eternal plan; nothing, however small,
however strange, occurs without His ordering, or without its peculiar
fitness for its place in the working out of His purposes; and the end
of all shall be the manifestation of His glory, and accumulation of His
praise. This is the Old Testament (as well as the New Testament)
philosophy of the universes world-view which attains concrete unity in
an absolute decree, or purpose, or plan of which all that comes to pass
is the development in time." (Biblical Doctrines, pp. 13, 22.)
The very essence of consistent theism is that God would have an exact
plan for the world, would foreknow the actions of all the creatures He
proposed to create, and through His all-inclusive providence would
control the whole system. If He fore- ordained only certain isolated
events, confusion both in the natural -world and in human affairs would
be introduced into the system and He would need to be constantly
developing new plans to accomplish what be desired. His government of
the world then would be a capricious patch work of new expedients He
would at best govern only in a general way, and would be ignorant of
much of the future. But no one with proper ideas of God believes that
He has to change His mind every few days to make room for unexpected
happenings which were not included in His original plan. If the
perfection of the divine plan be denied, no consistent stopping place
will be found short of atheism.
In the first place there was no necessity that God should create at
all. He acted with perfect freedom when He brought this world into
existence. When He did choose to create there was before Him an
infinite number of possible plans. But as a matter of fact we find that
He chose this particular one in which we now are. And since He knew
perfectly every event of every kind which would be involved in this
particular world-order, He very obviously predetermined every event
which would happen when He chose this plan. His choice of the plan, or
His making certain that the creation should be on this order, we call
His foreordination or His predestination.
Even the sinful acts of men are included in this plan. They are
foreseen, permitted, and have their exact place. They are controlled
and overruled for the divine glory. The crucifixion of Christ, which is
admittedly the worst crime in all human history, had, we are expressly
told, its exact and necessary place in the plan (Acts 2:23; 4:28). This
particular manner of redemption is not an expedient to which God was
driven after being defeated and disappointed by the fall of man. Rather
it is "according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ
Jesus our Lord," Eph. 3:11. Peter tells us that Christ as a sacrifice
for sin was "foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world," I
Peter 1:20. Believers were "chosen in Him before the foundation of the
world" (or from eternity), Eph. 1:4. We are saved not by our own
temporary works, "but according to His purpose and grace, which was
given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal," II Tim. 1:9. And if the
crucifixion of Christ, or His offering up Himself as a sacrifice for
sin, was in the eternal plan, then plainly the fall of Adam and all
other sins which made that sacrifice necessary were in the plan, no
matter how undesirable a part of that plan they may have been.
History in all its details, even the most minute, is but the unfolding
of the eternal purposes of God. His decrees are not successively formed
as the emergency arises, but are all parts of one all-comprehending
plan, and we should never think of Him suddenly evolving a plan or
doing something which He had not thought of before.
The fact that the Scriptures often speak of one purpose of God as
dependent on the outcome of another or on the actions of men, is no
objection against this doctrine. The Scriptures are written in the
every-day language of men, and they often describe an act or a thing as
it appears to be, rather than as it really is. The Bible speaks of "the
four corners of the earth," Is. 11:12, and of "the foundations of the
earth," Ps. 104:5; yet no one understands this to mean that the earth
is square, or that it actually rests upon a foundation. We speak of the
sun rising and setting, yet we know that it is not the motion of the
sun but that of the earth as it turns over on its axis which causes
this phenomenon. Likewise, when the Scriptures speak of God repenting,
for instance, no one with proper ideas of God understands it to mean
that He sees He has pursued a wrong course and changes His mind. It
simply means that His action as seen from the human view-point appears
to be like that of a man who repents. In other places the Scriptures
speak of the hands, or arms, or eyes of God. These are what are known
as "anthropomorphisms," instances in which God is referred to as if He
were a man. When the word "repent," for instance, is used in its strict
sense God is said never to repent: "God is not a man, that He should
lie, Neither the son of man, that lie should repent." Nu. 23:19; and
again, "The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent; for He is not a
man, that He should repent," I Sam. 15:29.
The contemplation of this great plan must redound to the praise of the
unsearchable wisdom and illimitable power of Him who devised and
executes it. And what can give the Christian more satisfaction and joy
than to know that the whole course of the world is ordered with
reference to the establishment of the Kingdom of heaven and the
manifestation of the Divine glory; and that he is one of the objects
upon which infinite love and mercy is to be lavished?
1. God's plan is eternal:
II Tim. 1:9:(It is God) who saved us, and called us with a holy
calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose
and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal.
Ps. 33:11: The counsel of Jehovah standeth fast for ever, The thoughts
of His heart to all generations.
Is. 37:26: Hast thou not heard how I have done it long ago, and formed
it of ancient times?
Is. 46:9, 10: I am God and there is none like me; declaring the end
from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet
II Thess. 2:13: God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in
sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.
Matt. 25:34: Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come,
ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the
foundation of the world.
I Peter 1:20: (Christ) who (as a sacrifice for sin) was foreknown
indeed before the foundation of the world.
Jer. 31:3: Jehovah appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved
thee with an everlasting love.
Acts 15:18: Saith the Lord, who maketh these things known from of old.
Ps. 139:16: Thine eves did see mine unformed substance; And in thy book
they were all written, Even the days that were ordained for me, When as
yet there was none of them.
2. God's plan is unchangeable:
James 1:17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation,
neither shadow that is cast by turning.
Is. 14:24: Jehovah of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely, as I have
thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it
Is. 46:10, 11: My counsel shall stand and I will do all my pleasure: .
. . yea, I have spoken, and I will also bring it to pass; I have
purposed I will also do it.
Nu. 23:19: God is not a man, that He should lie, Neither the son of
man, that He should repent; Hath He said, and shall He not do it; Or
hath He spoken, and shall He not make It good?
Mal. 3:6: I, Jehovah, change not; therefore, ye, 0 sons of Jacob, are
3. The divine plan includes the future acts of men:
Dan. 2:28: But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and He
hath made known to the King Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter
John 6:64: For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that
believed not, and who it was that should betray Him.
Matt. 20:18, 19: Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man
shall be delivered unto the chief priests and scribes; and they shall
condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him unto the Gentiles to mock,
and to scourge, and to crucify ; and the third day He shall be raised
up. (All the Scripture prophecies which are predictions of future
events come under this heading. See especially: Micah 5:2; Cp. with
Matt. 2:5, 6 and Luke 2:1-7; Ps. 22:18, Cp. John 19:24; Ps. 69:21, Cp.
John 19:29; Zech. 12:10, Cp. John 19:37; Mark 14:30; Zech. 11:12, 13,
Cp. Matt. 27:9, 10; Ps. 34:19, 20, Cp. John 19:33, 36.)
4. The divine plan includes the fortuitous events or chance
Prov. 16:33: The lot is cast Into the lap; But the whole disposing
thereof Is of Jehovah.
Jonah 1:7: So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.
Acts 1:24, 26: And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, who knowest the
hearts of all men, show of these two the one whom thou has chosen . . .
And they cast lots for them; and the lot fell on Matthias.
Job 36:32: He covereth His hands with the lightning, And giveth it a
charge that it strike the mark.
I Kings 22:28, 34: And Micaiah said, If thou (Ahab) return at all in
peace, Jehovah hath not spoken by me . . . And a certain man drew his
bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of
Job 5:6: For affliction cometh not forth from the dust; Neither doth
trouble spring out of the ground.
Mark 14:30: And Jesus said unto him (Peter), Verily I say unto thee,
that thou, today, even this night. before the cock crow twice shall
deny me thrice. (Cp. Gen. 37:28 and 45:5; Cp. I Sam. 9:15,16 and
5. Some events are recorded as fixed or inevitably certain:
Luke 22:22: For the Son of man indeed goeth, as it hath been
determined; but woe unto that man through whom He is betrayed.
John 8:20: These words spake He in the treasury, as He taught in the
temple; and no man took Him; because His hour was not yet come.
Matt. 24:36: But of that day and hour (the end of the world) knoweth no
one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father
Gen. 41:32: And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharoah, it is
because the thing is established of God, and He will shortly bring it
Hab. 2;3: For the vision is yet for the appointed time, and it
hasteneth toward the end, and shall not lie; though it tarry, wait for
it; because it will surely come, it will not delay.
Luke 21:24: And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until
the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
Jer. 15:2: And it shall come to pass when they say unto thee, Whither
shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them. Thus saith Jehovah: Such
as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the
sword; and such as are for famine, to the famine; and such as are for
captivity, to captivity.
Job 14:5: Seeing that his days are determined, And the number of his
months is with thee, And thou has appointed bounds that he cannot pass.
Jer. 27:7: And all nations shall serve him (Nebucbadnezzar), and his
son, and his son's son, until the time of his own land come; and then
many nations and great kings shall make him their bondman.
6. Even the sinful acts of men are included in the plan and
overruled for good.
Gen. 50:20: As for you, ye meant evil against me (Joseph), but God
meant it for good.
Is. 45:7: I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and
create evil: I am Jehovah that doeth all these things.
Amos 3:6: Shall evil befall a city and Jehovah hath not done it?
Acts 3:18: The things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the
prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He thus fulfilled.
Matt. 21:42: The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made
the head of the corner.
Rom. 8:28: To them that love God all things work together for good,
even to them that are called according to His purpose.
* Compiled from the works
of Loraine Boettner.