Why Providence is Essential Teaching for Youth in the Christian Church
Providence is a Christian doctrine that is a sub-doctrine of theology proper. Theology proper is the study of God and more specifically the study of God the Father.
Each person of the Trinity is active in God’s providential working of all things and the work of Christ, and the Spirit are extensions of what God is willing and doing to perform His good pleasure (Phil 2:12–13). In teaching this doctrine to adults, one becomes aware of the neglect this doctrine receives from youth ministries.
From childhood, Christian children are exposed to any number of true and false teachings. They first do theology in the home and then at church. Neither of these locations is teaching truth, exclusively, so most Christians have to discard bad teaching at different points in their journey of learning.
In other cases, there may be a void in learning, as in the case of learning providence. Some doctrines can have a disproportionate influence upon others. For instance, if one gets the doctrine of election wrong or not at all, then everything in the order of salvation will be skewed in some way. Simply put, election is essential teaching.
In the same way, providence is foundational to understanding how God sovereignly works in world history. He is causing all things to work, today. Do our children know that God, who created everything and who sustains everything by the Word of His power, is determining the course of everything and everyone? This simple fact of providence has immense ramifications for a young Christian’s worldview.
If providence is foundational, life decisions can be radically altered from fear to faith. Instead of learning about providence later in life, as most Christians do, providence can serve as a guide to Christian living, as life progresses from youth to adulthood.
Providence elevates one’s view of God like few other doctrines. He is exalted. Without providence in view, it is natural to ascribe credit to secondary causes. Our vocabulary degenerates with terms like karma, chance, luck, fortune, accident, etc.
In viewing events each day, a mind that is interpreting these events will quickly consider God because it has a knowledge of providence. One will ask, “I wonder how God is working in this situation?” because there is a compulsion to be aligned with God.
Providence is a comfort because it claims that God is in control of all things that come to pass. Key Bible verses that support the doctrine of providence are taught in many churches. Thus, the young believer may know that from God are all things (Rom 11:36) and that God causes all things to work together for good for His beloved, who He has called unto His flock (Rom 8:28). By teaching the doctrine itself, these verses find their right place in the heart and mind of the young theologian.
Young Christians are tempted by the world, and they easily succumb to the wiles of the devil. Peer pressure is real and what is needed is an awareness of God, especially Christ, who has overcome the world. The young Christian is taught that her faith has overcome the world. For her to know that in His providence and grace, God has granted her faith, will constrain her to set her mind on things above, where she fixes her eyes on Jesus, who is authoring her faith. Christ becomes the very filter she uses as she looks out into the world.
In addressing the sinful fallen world, the believer knows he has victory, and he is being led in Christ’s triumph at all times in every situation. Even in his struggle with sin, the believer is aware of the far reaching providence of God that works through the maladies caused by sin. His steps are ordered by the Lord.
Young Christians are often taught to obey the Lord and how wonderful it is when they learn that it is God’s Spirit who is causing them to walk in God’s statutes (Ezek 36:27). Walking in the truth, as opposed to walking by the flesh, means the young Christian can have confidence in God’s predetermined plan for her, as she is made privy to the wisdom and power of God in Christ.
Finally, the blessed assurance of knowing that his end is to return to God who made him, the believer rests in the knowledge that nothing can separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus. The end of his life is filled with great anticipation of the life to come in glory with Christ Jesus. Even a life cut short in providence has an eternity of bliss as its extension.
In conclusion, we have considered the delay in learning about the doctrine of providence. Moving this doctrine to the front of the line, for youth in churches, holds the potential as life transforming knowledge of God and His working of and in all things.
The benefits of having the knowledge of providence, sooner rather than later, cannot be tallied for their number. One thing is certain. When senior saints are taught this doctrine, invariably, their reply is, “Why were we not taught providence when we were young?” Only providence knows for sure.
Spokane Valley, Washington
August 14, 2021