We place ourselves without reservation on the
standpoint of supralapsarianism and maintain that it is the scriptural
and the only consistent presentation of the decree of God's
predestination. But we would like to modify this supralapsarian view in
such a way that it is in harmony with our organic conception of things.
We must emphasize not so much what is first or last in the decree of
God, but rather place ourselves before the questions: What in those
decrees is conceived as purpose and what as means? What is the main
object in those decrees, and what is subordinate and subservient to that
In this way we escape the danger of leaving the
impression that there is a temporal order in the decrees of God. In
addition, according to our way of presenting the doctrine of
predestination, we may open the way to find an answer to the question,
Why is there a reprobation? It is true that supralapsarians give a
partial answer to this question when they assert that God also has
willed the ungodly for his own name's sake and for the manifestation of
his righteousness, justice, power, and wrath. But this is by no means
the final answer that may be given to this question, nor does it satisfy
us, because in this way we still cannot escape the impression that there
is arbitrariness in God. The reprobate are evidently not necessary to
reveal God's power, wrath, and righteousness, for these virtues
certainly never came to a clearer, more definite revelation than at the
cross of Jesus Christ. He certainly satisfied the justice and the
righteousness of God and bore all his wrath.
Therefore, we would like to present the matter of
God's counsel of predestination as follows: God conceived and willed all
things in his eternal decree for his own name's sake, that is, to the
glory of his name and the reflection of his divine, infinite virtues and
life. As the highest in God is his own covenant life, he willed to
establish and to reveal his covenant in Christ, and all other things in
the counsel of God are related to that main purpose of God as means.
Hence we obtain the following order of the decrees:
God wants to reveal his own eternal glory in the
establishment of his covenant.
For the realization of this purpose, the Son
becomes the Christ, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of
every creature, that in him as the first begotten of the dead all
the fullness of God might dwell.
For that Christ and the revelation of all his
fullness, the church is decreed, and all the elect. In the decree of
God, Christ is not designed for the church, but the church for
Christ. The church is his body and serves the purpose of revealing
the fullness there is in him.
For the purpose of realizing this church of
Christ and, therefore, the glory of Christ, the reprobate are
determined as vessels of wrath. Reprobation serves the purpose of
election as the chaff serves the ripening of the wheat. This is in
harmony with the current thought of Scripture. We find it expressed
literally in Isaiah 43:3-4: "For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One
of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and
Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been
honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for
thee, and people for thy life."
Finally, in the counsel of God, all other things
in heaven and on earth are designed as means to the realization of
both election and reprobation and, therefore, of the glory of Christ
and his church. Because in the decree of God all things are
conceived in this manner, all things must work together for good to
them that love God, to them that are the called according to his
purpose. In this light we can also understand Scripture when it
teaches that "all things are yours; Whether Paul or Apollos, or
Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or
things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is
God's" (I Cor. 3:21-23).
Source: Reformed Dogmatics (Grandville, MI:
RFPA, 2004), vol. 1, pp. 236-237.