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Providence - God Governs This World
Concise Theology ^ | Unknown | J.I. Packer

Posted on 10/21/2012 10:26:07 AM PDT by HarleyD

"The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD" (Pro. 16:33).

"God's works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions" (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.11). 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.)

Clear thinking about God's involvement in the world-process and in the acts of rational creatures requires complementary sets of statements, thus: a person takes action, or an event is triggered by natural causes, or Satan shows his hand - yet God overrules. This is the message of the book of Esther, where God's name nowhere appears. Again: things that are done contravene God's will of command - yet they fulfill his will of events (Eph. 1:11). Again: humans mean what they do for evil - yet God who overrules uses their actions for good (Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23). Again: humans, under God's overruling, sin - yet God is not the author of sin (James 1:13-17); rather, he is its judge.

The nature of God's "concurrent" or "confluent" involvement in all that occurs in his world, as - without violating the nature of things, the ongoing causal processes, or human free agency - he makes his will of events come to pass, is mystery to us, but the consistent biblical teaching about God's involvement is as stated above.

Of the evils that infect God's world (moral and spiritual perversity, waste of good, and the physical disorders and disruptions of a spoiled cosmos), it can summarily be said: God permits evil (Acts 14:16); he punishes evil with evil (Ps. 81:11-12; Rom. 1:26-32); he brings good out of evil (Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 13:27; 1 Cor. 2:7-8); he uses evil to test and discipline those he loves (Matt. 4:1-11; Heb. 12:4-14); and one day he will redeem his people from the power and presence of evil altogether (Rev. 21:27; 22:14-15).

The doctrine of providence teaches Christians that they are never in the grip of blind forces (fortune, chance, luck, fate); all that happens to them is divinely planned, and each event comes as a new summons to trust, obey, and rejoice, knowing that all is for one's spiritual and eternal good (Rom. 8:28).

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant; Theology
KEYWORDS: providence

1 posted on 10/21/2012 10:26:10 AM PDT by HarleyD
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To: HarleyD

But man has free will.

2 posted on 10/21/2012 11:29:07 AM PDT by tommix2 (,)
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To: HarleyD

God is sovereign. He even directs man’s “free will” to accomplish his purposes.

3 posted on 10/21/2012 11:33:37 AM PDT by TurkeyLurkey
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To: HarleyD
ll Cor. 4:4 Satan is the god of this world (age).
Don’t blame God for the messes of this world. Jesus Christ will return and set things right. He will present this world to His Father, then God will be in charge with Jesus Christ at His right hand with just believers living on the earth as it was intended.

4 posted on 10/21/2012 12:23:19 PM PDT by Doulos1 (Bitter Clinger Forever!)
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To: HarleyD

Thy will be done.

5 posted on 10/21/2012 1:44:44 PM PDT by circlecity
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To: TurkeyLurkey
He even directs man’s “free will” to accomplish his purposes.

I am 'free' of any compulsion to 'steal' as it is not in my moral framework to do so. So I am not 'haunted'; I am just 'free' of such mental baggage.

Think same line of thinking follow 'free will'. If aligned to the 'Good'; one's will 'is' free. If not so 'aligned'; one's 'will' is challenged daily; hourly; moment to moment, perhaps; and so is NOT free. The 'alignment'; how one chooses to exercise 'will'; is as well; a free choice

For 'better'; or for worse. . .IMHO. . .

6 posted on 10/21/2012 3:01:15 PM PDT by cricket (The Middle Class: Thanks to Obama's efforts; a now 'shovel-ready' project. . .)
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To: cricket

From a biblical point of view, man lost his pure free will in the garden of Eden when Adan and Eve sinned and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

From that day on everyone who comes into this world, because they are “in Adam” now has a will that is bound to the devil’s will. Jesus told the Pharisees in John 8 that they were of their father the devil and wanted to do the desires of their father. Everyone who doesn’t believe that Jesus is the “I am,” that is, Jehovah,the self-existent One, will die in their sins.

The day Adam & Eve sinned they died spiritually and physical death came upon them (later) and all mankind, as well as spiritual death.

A person’s will, mind, heart is changed by grace through faith in Jesus Christ because he is made a new man, a new creation in Christ. Ephesians 2:1-10 describes the change from being dead in trespasses and sins to being made alive toghether with Christ. It is a work of God, not man.

Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 that a person must be born again (that is, spiritually) in order to enter the kingdom of God.

The apostle John said in John 1:12-13 that as many as received Christ, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

God by His grace changes our wills, He changes our minds (repentance) and we are set free to love and obey Him. Even though our wills have been set free, our flesh has been trained in unrighteousness, and sin has not been eradicated. Sin still resides in the flesh and must be dealt with, through repentance and confession (1 John 1:9).

But sin does not have control over us any longer. The power of sin, the devil, and death have been broken by Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself on our behalf.

When a true believer sins, it is because he has chosen, by his will, to sin. The Holy Spirit within the believer convicts him of sin and causes him to repent and confess his sin. It is no longer a lifestyle of sin; it is a lifestyle of wanting to please his Father. Faith is what pleases God.

God’s Word, the Bible, is the believer’s handbook for living. And His Holy Spirit within, by whom he is sealed until the day of redemption, will direct, guide, and empower the believer in his daily living. Ours is to believe Him, His Word(s) and obey (by using our redeemed wills), and it is a process called sanctification.

7 posted on 10/21/2012 6:09:46 PM PDT by TurkeyLurkey
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To: TurkeyLurkey; cricket
... man lost his pure free will in the garden of Eden when Adan and Eve sinned and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

I don't believe man lost anything. I suspect what God did was simply show man that he was capable of disobeying God. Certainly man could have rebelled when God told him to name the animals or tend the garden, but these at that time were enjoyable things. It was only through God saying, "Do not eat of..." that man realized he could strive with God. The tree of knowledge was put there as an act of God's love to expose our true nature and understand our need to trust God that His plan is the best.

And you can say this about every command that God has ever utter. They have been given to us out of love and compassion for His creation. These laws and commandments that are given for our benefit illustrate to us how we are bent toward ruin and self-destruction. And we have constantly broke them and continue to break them; these perfect commands that lead us to a better life. God's wrath is nothing more than our striving against what is good for so very long that it has corrupted our senses.

Without us understanding how we rebel against God's perfect law we will never fully understand His grace of forgiveness.

8 posted on 10/22/2012 8:39:16 AM PDT by HarleyD
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To: HarleyD

You need to study your Bible.

9 posted on 10/22/2012 8:58:08 AM PDT by TurkeyLurkey
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