The Relationship of Faith to Providence
Providence is God working in time and space, bringing both natural and supernatural, animate and inanimate aspects of His creation to their purposeful ends. Faith is the supernatural means by which people lay hold of Christ, placing their trust in Him for salvation.
Jesus Christ is God the Son, who is our Savior. Salvation belongs to God, who receives all glory for so great a salvation. There is salvation in no one else and no other name under heaven and given among men whereby we must be saved (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Acts 4:12; Rev 19:1).
It was God’s good pleasure before creation to will and decree the salvation of some people. Not all are saved, but all believers in Jesus are saved from the just judgment and righteous wrath of God against sin and sinners. Those who are “saved” placed their trust in the Word of Christ preached to them in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God implanted the Word of God in the souls of those God appointed to eternal life (Acts 13:48; Rom 9:6, 18, 22; Jas 1:21).
Those people, both Jew and Gentile, appointed to eternal life, in time, will hear the Word of Christ and believe it. This is the faith handed down to all the saints (Jude 3), who receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Mt 3:11; Jn 1:33; 14:17; Acts 2:38; 10:44, 47), who gives them new life.
As new creatures baptized into Christ, it is now Him who lives in each one, who received the gift of God (Holy Spirit) by God’s grace, as manifested by a beginning and continuing faith in the Son of God. Faith is a product of the new creation. Faithfulness, the continuing manifestation of the grace of God, is one fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22).
Providence acknowledges God. It is known by the revelation of God which gives us the mind of Christ to know Christ, who shows us the Father. Without the Spirit of Christ, one does not have the mind of Christ. There is no spiritual discernment without the Spirit. One can only know the things of God in this way, by the indwelling Spirit.
The unbeliever refuses to acknowledge God or give Him all of the glory because he or she is blind, deaf, dumb, lame, and even spiritually dead to God, being dead in sin. The unbeliever has no spiritual life in him, which means he is void of the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life.
The unbeliever has no capacity to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ because he or she does not have the Son (Jn 3:36; 1 Jn 5:11–13). Jesus is the incarnate Word of God which must be tasted and seen (Ps 34:8). Dead men cannot see and they have no taste for anything. For one to take Christ in, apprehending Him by faith, he or she must first be made alive, spiritually, by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. He or she must be born again of God.
Salvation transcends space and time because aspects of it pre-date creation. God’s election of His chosen people occurred in eternity-past when those the Father gave to the Son had their names written in the Lamb’s (Son) book of life (Rev 13:8; 17:8). In the creation of man, especially after the Fall (Gen 3), salvation was manifest in covenant promises and then executed in real, historical events.
Providence is a broad concept. God works all things in space and time to fulfill His will by His omnipotence. Salvation relates to God’s providence as it occurred at the Cross of Christ and at the regeneration of each elect soul by the Spirit. Therefore, it is much narrower in scope, but God is especially glorified in salvation.
It is the revealed will of God that none of His elect, adopted children be lost or stolen, so as to miss out on salvation. God saves us, which makes it a sure salvation, in what is called, “the preservation of the saints.” If one was predestined to adoption, by God and into His family then that one will be glorified on the last day in the resurrection to life.
It is God’s grace, working in God’s providence that executes God’s salvation of His chosen people in time. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone that Christ alone is glorified for working all things the Father gave Him to do. It is the Spirit who applies the benefits of Christ’s life and death to those who receive Jesus Christ by the will of God.
Faith is one of those benefits. Without the Spirit’s work, the soul remains in unbelief. In God’s providence that may be the will of God for the vessel of wrath prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22). In that case, the case of the reprobate, faith will never come because the reprobate was never appointed to life. God the Father did not give the reprobate to His Son, so the reprobate do not belong to Christ. They are not His sheep; therefore, they do not know Him, nor do they come to Him when He calls to gather His sheep into the fold, that is, His church, His body, the Israel of God.
Faith, along with the grace of repentance, is granted by God to those He has baptized into His church. It is the indwelling Spirit who teaches the knowledge of Christ to those to whom the Father and the Son sent Him to give life, including faith. The life of faith in Christ is abundant life. It is a life of hope of better things to come in glory.
Glory is another name for life with Christ for all eternity in the new heavens and the new earth. Then and there, the things hoped for will be seen. Faith will no longer remain because in God’s providence, His end will have been attained in the summing up of all things in Christ. Righteousness will once again dwell in the midst of the garden of New Jerusalem where God is God, and His people will worship Him as He really is…the result of His grace and providence.
Spokane Valley, Washington
June 30, 2021