The decrees of God, we have observed, may be thought of as many, if we look at them from the point of view of their execution in the infinitely varied course of God's dealings with the world that He has made; but it is a still profounder truth to say that they are all really one decree, one eternal purpose or plan.
How much is embraced in that eternal purpose of God?
The true answer to that question is very simple. The true answer is 'Everything'. Everything that happens is embraced in the eternal purpose of God; nothing at all happens outside of His eternal plan.
Editor's note - Last month we published a review of Dr. Kenneth Gentry's book, The Beast of Revelation, by Mr. Martin Selbrede. Mr. Selbrede ended his review with these words:
"It is a testimony to Dr. Gentry's Christian character that he asked Counsel of Chalcedon editor David Goodrum to find a Reconstructionist hostile to his perspective to review The Beast of Revelation. Dr. Gentry believed that hard questions would serve Christ's cause better than pages of back-slapping accolades. I am humbled by his example."
The Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States, (RPCUS), was born in 1983 out of the continuing struggle to uphold the all-embracing, inerrant authority of the Bible as the Word of God, to maintain the purity of the church, and to proclaim the truth of the Reformed Faith "in all openness unhindered." We believe that God has called us into existence to glorify him by being faithful to the Word of God, the historic Reformed Faith, and the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is no certain evidence that a man is born of God because he can specify the particular time when he believes he was converted. I have no doubt that there are those who can tell the period of time when they passed from death unto life. And this may be deemed a happy circumstance in their religious experience. When the love of God is so sensibly shed abroad in the soul, and the light of His countenance so sensibly descends upon the heart and the glory of God so sensibly fills the mind, that the time of its influence can be distinctly discerned, it may well be the source of grateful rejoicing. But this is by no means the experience, even of the great body of God's people. So far as I have been able to form any estimate of this subject by far greater part of real Christians are the subjects of a true work of Grace before they themselves are aware of any change having taken place.
King Zedekiah was the last king of Judah, 597-586, B.C. His administration was evil, for he continued the traditions of the wicked kings, II Kings 24:17-25:7. He was ambivalent toward Jeremiah's preaching. Frequently he would go to Jeremiah for counsel, but when it was received, he would reject it, if he did not like it.
This time he asks Jeremiah if God will intervene and rescue Judah from the imminent invasion of Babylon.
God's answer through his prophet destroyed all hope. God himself will destroy Judah by means of Babylon, with irresistible force.
The evangelical Chuistian churches have never held what has been stigmatized the "mechanical" theory of inspiration, despite the charges often made to the contrary. Instead of reducing the writers of Scripture to the level of machines or typewriters we have insisted that, while they wrote or spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, they nevertheless remained thinking, willing, self-conscious beings whose peculiar styles and mannerisms are clearly traceable in their writings. If their native tongue was Hebrew, they wrote Hebrew; if it was Greek, they wrote Greek; if they were educated, they wrote as men of culture; if uneducated, they wrote as such men would write. We do not separate the divine and human elements, but insist that the two are mixed in perfect harmony so that every word of Scripture is at one and the same times the word of God and also the word of man. The writers themselves make it plain that in this process the divine influence is primary and the human secondary, so that they are not so much the originators but rather the receivers and announcers of these messages. Hence what they wrote or spoke was not to be looked upon as merely their own product, but as the pure Word of God, and for that reason it was to be received and implicitly obeyed.
The article on page 2 of this issue, God's Decrees and Man's Freedom, comes from a volume made up of radio addresses delivered by Dr. Machen in the final year of his life and put into book form under the title, The Christian View of Man, and published after the author died on January 1, 1937. As J. Gresham Machen was one of the outstanding Reformed leaders in American history, every lover of the Reformed Faith should know something about him. Let me begin by quoting from the Foreword to the British Edition of the afore mentioned book. This foreword was written, nearly three decades after Machen's death, by Machen's former student and later friend and colleague, John Murray. Readers of this magazine will possibly remember that I consider John Murray to have been one of the three greatest theologians in the history of the United States, the other two being Robert L. Dabney and Benjamin B. Warfield.