Between the two views that have been presented the

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issue, we can resolve to seek a solution that provides the greatest element of harmony. Between the two views that have been presented, the Calvinistic view provides us with the best opportunity for harmony within the teachings of Scripture. Understanding and defining God's sovereign decree will assist us in better understanding this view. God's decree is the way He exercises control over all of His creation. From a definition perspective, Wayne Grudem defines God's decree as ". . . the eternal plans of God whereby, before the creation of the world, he determined to bring about everything that comes to pass." 23 21 Norman Geisler, Chosen But Free , (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 1999), 178. 22 Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology , 470. 23 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), 332. 7
This theme can been seen and supported throughout Scriptures. Psalms 115:3 states that ". . . our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased." We also see this from Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in Daniel 4:35 where he declares that ". . . all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?" Scripture provides us clear evidence that God has an eternal plan that will be followed to specific details. It is the providence of God which carries out His decree. God's providence is the "the continuing action of God in preserving his creation and guiding it toward his intended purposes." Beyond God’s original work with creation, His providence is the ongoing relationship to it. This providence is the continuous action of God to preserve His creation through daily interaction and to guide and direct man to His intended purpose. 24 We find compelling Biblical support with one of the most comprehensive statements of God's sovereign decree worked out in providence in Ephesians 1:11, which reads ". . . we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:" In this verse we see both the "purpose," God's sovereign decree, and the providence, "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." God has an eternal purpose which he works out in His time. Everything that happens was both planned in eternity and is worked out in His perfect timing and nothing outside of God's purposeful providence ever occurs. With God's sovereignty soundly established, the issue of man’s free will is immediately brought into question. The Calvinist position on God's decree and providence is often argued to 24 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI:Baker Books, 2003), 412-413. 8
be inconsistent with the free will of man. 25 For if God exercises providential control over all events how then is man really free? Answer to this question is often centered on how one defines the word “free”. Calvinist theologians like Louis Berkhof and John Calvin have used the word "free" to describe the acts and choices of man. There are no Scriptures that suggest that man is "free" in the sense of being outside of God's control. Nor does Scripture affirm our ability to make choices that are not caused by anything.

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