Q. 7 What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.
Q. 8 How does God execute his decrees?
A. God executes his decrees in the works of creation and providence.
Exposition – Here the catechism moves from God’s being to his doing; from his nature and essence to his actions. Here the catechism is concerned to highlight the way in which history unfolds according to a plan. A decree is something we’re not exactly accustomed to because it’s more monarchical than democratic. Decrees are what kings make.
Then Darius the king made a decree…(Ez. 6:1). In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king issued a decree… (Ez. 6:3).
What the catechism and the Bible behind it are concerned to press upon us is that the events of the world and of our lives are not random. They are well ordered and fall out exactly as God has said they would.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11).
So powerful and great is our king that it’s not just the good things in life and history that he has decreed, but whatsoever comes to pass. Whatsoever means everything, down to the very smallest and last detail.
And this is so because just as God is himself eternal (Q/A 4), so too are his decrees and eternal purpose. They have always been just as he has always been. And just as we are called to glorify God as our chief end, the chief end of God and of all of his decrees is to glorify himself. God calls us (Q/A 1) to pursue that which he also pursues.
Discussion – Think about all of the plans you have made only to have something come up that forces you to change those plans. With God this never happens. He is never surprised. He is never caught off guard. Things don’t just “come up” with God. How does that make you feel as you look at the uncertainty of your life and the future that is unknown?
If God has foreordained everything that comes to pass, that must include your faith in Christ. From Scripture we know that God has chosen his people before the creation of the world. We are his because he has claimed us.
How does all of this change the way you pray? How you worship? The way you live your life day to day?
Book Recommendation – Have you seen Starr Meade’s Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism? It’s a great book for individuals and family to work through based on the catechism with a reflection and questions for days Monday through Saturday based on every question of the catechism.