A Primer on Providence
God is the Creator of everything that exists, both seen and unseen (Acts 17:24). This includes the physical universe, the natural world, the supernatural realm (angels and demons), and everything in them, both great and small.
God created man, male and female, after His own image (Gen 1:27; 9:6). Adam was the first created man, and as the federal head of humanity (Rom 5:12), all people have biological relationship to one another from him, who carried the title, “son of God (Lk 3:38).”
The Lord God directs the steps of man (Prv 16:9). In fact, He upholds all things by the Word of His power (Heb 1:3). His providential care is intimate. He feeds every creature, even sharing His bread with those who betray Him.
In the beginning, God gave work to Adam (Gen 2:15). God, who is sovereign and Lord over all, included man in His governance. Man was granted dominion (Gen 1:26), but God made man accountable to Himself (Gen 2:15–16), the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim 6:15; Rev 19:11), who judges in righteousness (Gen 18:25). The Lord reigns with all wisdom and power (Rev 19:6).
God established an eternal covenant (Heb 13:20), which God Himself promised to fulfill. He revealed this covenant of grace to man, and some became beneficiaries of the covenant (Rom 8:17; Gal 4:7), including its eternal inheritance (Heb 9:15). Adam heard the Word of God, but he did not believe. Trusting God proved to be a matter of life and death (Gen 2:17; 3:3, 4). Whereas Adam enjoyed abundant life in the Garden, death came into the world by way of the first man’s sinful disobedience (Rom 5:12).
In God’s providence, He preserves all things for His own purpose, directing all things toward His sovereign end. Even as secondary causes operate in seeming independence of Him, with all power, God accomplishes His eternal decree in time. He is the prime mover. Nothing occurs apart from Him. In the end, it will be demonstrated that God is all and in all (Eph 1:10). The Apostle Paul captured this in his epistle to the Romans, “For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things (Rom 11:36).”
For a person to believe these things, God must graciously grant faith to that person (Phil 1:29). This is the reverse of Adam’s action in unbelief (Gen 3:6). With faith, God’s revealed Word of truth is acted upon by the one who has received the Spirit of Christ, by the will of God (Jn 1:12–13; 14:17). In fact, the believer glories in God’s providence.
No one has the wisdom nor the power to create and control all things except the God of the Bible, who is revealed as Holy (Lev 11:44). He is set apart from His creation and all of His dealings, regarding what He has made, is perfectly just (Is 45:21). This is only a reality because God is perfectly wise (Rom 16:27; 1 Tim 1:17; Jude 1:25). In addition, it is a relief for believers to know that God is good…all the time (Lk 18:19).
God’s benevolent reign overrides evil. This ensures that His kingdom reign is sure. Nothing operates as a radical independent. The storm is subject to His command (Ps 107:29). The plague is sent for His purpose (Jos 24:5), as are wicked leaders. God is on His throne, and He is working (Ps 115:3; 135:6; Jn 5:17).
When government, societies, and cultures refuse to do homage, they are oblivious to the fact that they are under judgment from the very one they refuse to acknowledge (Rom 1:18). The heathen rage as it was appointed for them to do so (Ps 2:1; 46:6; Prv 16:4). An evil spirit was sent from God to Saul (1 Sam 16:14–15). By God’s design, Satan entered Judas Iscariot (Lk 22:3; Jn 13:27).
How then should God’s adopted children live in light of these revealed aspects of truth? Our days are all known to God before there was yet one of them. God knows the world in which He placed us as sons of Adam and as His own adopted children (Rom 8:15, 23; Eph 1:5). Our lives have purpose because God is accomplishing all that concerns us (Ps 57:3; 138:8).
God has spoken to us through His Son (Heb 1:2), who sent His Spirit to indwell His chosen people (Jn 14:17; 15:26; Rom 8:9, 11; 1 Pet 2:9). This is our God, who teaches us to pray, helps us in our time of need, comforts us in loss, and bolsters our faith in every situation, today, while granting us hope for the future. In this is joy manifest for the child of God (Gal 5:22).
Men shun death, but the saints of God wait expectantly because they go to be with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph 2:6; Phil 1:23). As longing for home in Zion increases, the Christian is like a bride preparing for her wedding day. She has a Helper. Knowing that God is good to Israel, the Christian life is one of thanksgiving without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17–18). The One who loves us is working everything for our good (Rom 8:28).
What use is there for the saved one to do but to bring glory to God in every moment and in every possible way. These are the good works prepared beforehand by God (Eph 2:10), to be performed by His Spirit living in the redeemed of the Lord (Phil 2:13). These vessels, being prepared for glory (Rom 9:23), are the very agents employed to bear witness of Christ (Acts 1:8), as were the stone jars at Cana when their contents were transformed from water into wine (Jn 2:9). Simply put, we are clay pot miracles!
The vessel in decrease, like John the Baptist, has his joy made complete (Jn 3:29), as the Spirit takes from him and adds to the church. Our lives are poured out like a drink offering to God. New wine finds new creatures who will soon join the choir of heaven in singing praise unto God, forever (Mt 9:17; 2 Cor 5:17; Rev 5:9).
In conclusion, we must apprehend God’s perfect story. He makes all things. He sustains all things. He directs all things, and all things are perfectly fitted for their intended end. Here is the sweet fragrance of providence.
Let us be still. Let us know these things. Let us know Him who is eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He has made you to learn His ways unless He has made you to despise Him all your days. This is providence brought forth by His eternal decree. Whether you rage or rejoice at this doctrine, the fact remains…He is always right in what He does.
Spokane Valley, Washington
June 16, 2021