Chapter 3. Of God’s Eternal Decree

Read Chapter 3(Of God’s Eternal Decree) of the Westminster Confession of Faith

1. God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass:1yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,2nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.3

2. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions,4yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.5

3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels6are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death.7

4. These angels and men, thus predestinated, and fore-ordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.8

5. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory,9out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto:10and all to the praise of His glorious grace.11

6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, fore-ordained all the means thereunto.12Wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ,13are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified,14and kept by His power through faith, unto salvation.15Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.16

7. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath, for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.17

8. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care,18that men attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election.19So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God,20and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.21