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Home arrow 50 Yrs Among The Baptists arrow Justification and Kindred Subjects: Chapter 22
Justification and Kindred Subjects: Chapter 22 PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.H. Oliphant   

DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE SECRET AND THE REVEALED WILL OF GOD.

Deuteronomy, xxix. 29. Elder Hassell says, “Those who do not “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim. ii. 15) wrongfully and sinfully divide the people of God” (Jer. xxiii. 1; Matt. vii. 15-20; Acts xx. 29-31; 1 Cor. xiv. 33).

To every humble and spiritual mind there is the clearest distinction in the Scriptures between the secret or decretive and the revealed or perceptive will of God. His secret or decretive will is his purpose to do or to PERMIT to be done what he has from all eternity determined, and what will certainly come to pass, both according to his foreknowledge and his secret or decretive will; but his revealed or perceptive will is his moral law, his commandments, which are the rule of duty for all his rational creatures. “The secret things” says Moses, “belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”---Deuteronomy xxix. 29. It is God’s business to
attend to the certain fulfillment of his eternal, infinite, and inscrutable decrees; and it is our business always to obey, inwardly and outwardly, his holy commands. He cannot do wrong; and it is right for him, in his unsearchable wisdom to permit, or suffer what is wrong for us to do, and what he forbids us to do, and will righteously chastise or punish us for doing. He is so infinitely better, wiser, and stronger than Satan and all the servants of Satan, that he can and does overrule evil for good and he deserves and will receive all the glory for so doing.

I find the decretive will of God mentioned in twenty-four passages of Scripture, of which I will cite a few: Daniel iv. 35; Romans ix. 19; Matthew xxvi. 42; John vi. 39; Acts xxi. 14; 1 Corinthians ii; Ephesians i. 9, 11; 1 Peter iii. 17; Revelation xvii. 17; and I find the perceptive will of God mentioned in twenty-seven passages of Scripture, of which I will cite a few; Psalms xl. 8; cxliii. 10; Matthew vi. 10; vii. 21; xii. 50; John iv. 34; vii. 17; ix. 31; Romans ii. 18; xii. 2; Ephesians vi 6; Colossians iv. 12; 1 Thessalonians iv. 3; Hebrews x. 7; xiii. 21; 1 John ii. 17.

It is willful and sinful ignorance to ignore, and more to deny this distinction. “A denial of God’s secret decretive will represents him as the most harassed, embarrassed and impotent being in the universe; and a denial of his revealed perceptive will represents him as acquiescing in all the iniquities done on earth and in hell.” The Scriptures above cited unanswerably demonstrate the distinction between the decretive and the perceptive will of God. The Scriptures show that his decretive will differed from his perceptive will, as to the same persons. (See Exodus iv. 21-23; Ezekiel iii. 4-7; compared with Exodus xx. 13; compared with Acts ii. 23, and iv. 27, 28.) God is perfectly holy in giving his creatures a righteous law, and also in not giving them unmerited grace to keep that law. All good comes from him; and all moral evil or sin comes from the misuse of the will of the creature in disobedience to God.

In the acts of the Lord Jesus Christ the decretive and the perceptive will of God perfectly agreed; and so will it be in the acts of all who are perfectly conformed to his holy image in the heaven of ultimate glory, but in the present imperfect state God suffers sinners to do what he has commanded them not to do, and while he will righteously punish them for so doing, he will mercifully and wisely and almightily bring good out of evil, salvation out of ruin, and saved sinners and holy angels will justly and joyfully ascribe all the glory to his ever blessed and adorable name. S. H.

God’s decree of the final punishment of the wicked is not unconditional but for their sins. I would not take any view of the decree of god that would apologize for sin, or leave man unblameable for sin, or in any degree lessen the difference between right and wrong.

So far as we deny the accountability of man, or furnish an excuse for sin, or so far as we minimize the difference between right and wrong, just so far we destroy the doctrine of God’s grace in the final salvation of men; and so far we cast a cloud over his justice in the punishment of the wicked. Christian experience universally confesses that we are to blame for our sins, and it
universally confesses that we are not saved on account of our goodness of nature or conduct. It would be as easy to reason light out of the universe, as to destroy in the human family, the fact that we are accountable beings to God.

Elder Hassell, in March number of his paper, the “Gospel Messenger,” uses the following strong language, yet I think it is not too strong: “Any human being who denies these plain declarations, affirming the solemn accountability of man to God, is not only an infidel, an unbeliever in the word of God, but he sinks below the blackest depths of heathenism which does not dare to deny the accountability of man to some higher power or powers, he undermines all authority, human or divine.” I think many brethren who use the term “Absolute predestination of all things,” believe as Elder Hassell here writes. In fact, I am sure that but few of our people hold that man is not an accountable being, and I think but few of our people hold that chance or Satan so rules in the conduct of nations, or evil men as to determine what the history of this world shall be.

If we understood each other better I think we would find our difference less. I would regret to wound the feelings of any of our brethren. I would delight to be a peacemaker. I wish to do right, and I know I should fear God and remember that the condemnation of men is an exceedingly small matter, if God approves.

THE END.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 September 2006 )
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