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issue, we can resolve to seek a solution that provides the greatest element of harmony. Betweenthe two views that have been presented, the Calvinistic view provides us with the bestopportunity for harmony within the teachings of Scripture. Understanding and defining God'ssovereign 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 definitionperspective, 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."2321Norman Geisler, Chosen But Free, (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 1999), 178. 22Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 470.23Wayne 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 ". . . ourGod is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased." We also see this fromNebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in Daniel 4:35 where he declares that ". . . all the inhabitantsof the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, andamong the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doestthou?" Scripture provides us clear evidence that God has an eternal plan that will be followed tospecific details. It is the providence of God which carries out His decree. God's providence is the "thecontinuing 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. Thisprovidence is the continuous action of God to preserve His creation through daily interaction andto guide and direct man to His intended purpose.24We find compelling Biblical support with oneof the most comprehensive statements of God's sovereign decree worked out in providence inEphesians 1:11, which reads ". . . we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated accordingto the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:" In this verse wesee both the "purpose," God's sovereign decree, and the providence, "worketh all things after thecounsel of his own will." God has an eternal purpose which he works out in His time. Everythingthat happens was both planned in eternity and is worked out in His perfect timing and nothingoutside of God's purposeful providence ever occurs.With God's sovereignty soundly established, the issue of man’s free will is immediatelybrought into question. The Calvinist position on God's decree and providence is often argued to24Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, Second Edition(Grand Rapids, MI:Baker Books,2003), 412-413. 8
be inconsistent with the free will of man.25For if God exercises providential control over allevents how then is man really free? Answer to this question is often centered on how one definesthe 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 tomake choices that are not caused by anything.