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Monday
Apr282008

Theological Term of the Week

providence

The work of God  in which he actively preserves and directs all his creation and all his creatures so that his purpose for creation is  fulfilled.

  • From the London Baptist Confession, 1689, Chapter 5:
    God the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, to the end for the which they were created, according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will; to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy.
  • From J. I. Packer, Concise Theology:
    If Creation was a unique exercise of divine energy causing the world to be, providence is a continued exercise of that same energy whereby the Creator, according to his own will, (a) keeps all creatures in being, (b) involves himself in all events, and (c) directs all things to their appointed end. The model is of purposive personal management with total “hands-on” control: God is completely in charge of his world. His hand may be hidden, but his rule is absolute.

    Some have restricted God’s providence to foreknowledge without control, or upholding without intervention, or general oversight without concern for details, but the testimony to providence as formulated above is overwhelming.

    The Bible clearly teaches God’s providential control (1) over the universe at large, Ps. 103:19; Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11; (2) over the physical world, Job 37; Pss. 104:14; 135:6; Matt. 5:45; (3) over the brute creation, Ps. 104:21, 28; Matt. 6:26; 10:29; (4) over the affairs of nations, Job 12:23; Pss. 22:28; 66:7; Acts 17:26; (5) over man’s birth and lot in life, 1 Sam. 16:1; Ps. 139:16; Isa. 45:5; Gal. 1:15-16; (6) over the outward successes and failures of men’s lives, Ps. 75:6, 7; Luke 1:52; (7) over things seemingly accidental or insignificant, Prov. 16:33; Matt. 10:30; (8) in the protection of the righteous, Pss. 4:8; 5:12; 63:8; 121:3; Rom. 8:28; (9) in supplying the wants of God’s people, Gen. 22:8, 14; Deut. 8:3; Phil. 4:19; (10) in giving answers to prayer, 1 Sam. 1:19; Isa. 20:5, 6; 2 Chron. 33:13; Ps. 65:2; Matt. 7:7; Luke 18:7, 8; and (11) in the exposure and punishment of the wicked, Pss. 7:12-13; 11:6. (L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 4th ed.)
  • From Octavius Winslow, My Times in God’s Hands:
    Beloved, remember that all our past and all our coming prosperity, if indeed He shall so appoint it, is in the hand of God. It is His wisdom that suggests our plans, it is His power that guides, and it is His goodness that makes them successful.

    Every flower that blooms in our path, every smile that gladdens it, every mercy that bedews it, yes, “Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above…”

    Oh! for grace to recognize God in all our mercies!

    How much sweeter will be our sweets, how much more blessed our blessings, and endeared our endearments, to see them all dropping from the outstretched, munificent hand of a loving, gracious, and bountiful Father!

    Oh! for a heart lifted up in holy returns of love, gratitude and praise!
  • A few applications of the doctrine of providence from God’s Glorious Providence:
    • It gives us “deep gratitude to God for all good things—including our love for Him and faith in Him—because all good things are from God.”
    • It “gives us patience and comfort, strength and hope through suffering and adversity.”
    • It “causes us to marvel at God’s great wisdom.
    • “It gives us deeper trust in God because He will accomplish all of His purposes.”
    • It gives us “confidence in prayer,” because “God can do what we ask.”
    • It keeps us from feeling “overwhelmed, because God is in control.”
    • “It gives us great courage and boldness through all things.”
    • “It shatters bitterness and complaining” and causes us to be content in our circumstances.
Learn more:
  1. R. C. Sproul: What Is Providence?
  2. Wayne Grudem: God’s Providence (pdf)
  3. Louis Berkhof: Summary of Christian Doctrine, Chapter 10, Providence
  4. James Montgomery Boice: God’s Providence
  5. John Reisenger: The Sovereignty of God in Providence (mp3)

Related terms:

Filed under God’s Nature and His Work

Have you come across a theological term that you don’t understand and that you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.
 
Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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Reader Comments (2)

EXCELLENT POST. Thank you Rebecca.

April 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Nunley

I picked up Packer's Concise Theology some time ago -- love it! It puts things in bite size pieces for me, and I can go research further if I need to. But usually the terms are, indeed, concise. As are your posts, thank you for that.

April 30, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjen elslager

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