Archive for July 11th, 2014


For last week’s post, please see: Christology: Deity and Eternality, Part 7

In His providence (refers to the active implementation of God’s plan on earth so that his purposes would be realized).  His works of providence is holy, wise, and powerful in preserving and governing all His creatures and all their actions (John Frame, Systematic Theology, 141).

In His providence, we are able to see at least a few major areas that are flushed out: preservation/sustenance, concurrence, and His government.  I will also add God’s providence seen via His Word.  For a short recap, preservation/sustenance is the idea of God maintaining order.  Concurrence is the notion that God is involved in every action that takes place.  Concurrence has the focus of God’s presence with His creatures. As for government seen via providence, this points to the manner in which God directs creation to a purpose/end.  What is God’s purpose?  Well Scripture speaks in many occasions, that His purpose is to glorify Himself, defeat evil, and to redeem His people so that they may have eternal life (Frame, 173).  The governance of God presents to us the final consummation concerning God’s promise (Frame, 173).  A major thrust concerning the providence of God via His government can be seen through eschatology.  Eschatology will motivate Christians to live for His glory because we know that He will one day return for His people.  In God’s government, He has a way and manner in how the order of events is to take place.  And how He ordains it, is holy and wise.  His glory is grand in this area.

Questions arise: “How does God work His will in this world?”  “Is nature responsible for everything that happens?”  How is God’s providence to be understood in light of miracles, mundane things, disease, natural disasters, evil?  I hope that covering providence will help tackle some of these questions.  If not, I hope that will at least spark more interest for you in studying this important topic.

  • Preservation (Frame, 174-179):
    • [Explanation]:
      • Since God directed the creation towards his intended goal (government), He also preserves His creation’s existence.
      • Preservation is an aspect of God’s governance of the world; and His governance is an expression of His lordship.  Since we are dealing with Colossians, the eternal Son of God is not distant from creation.  He is involved.
      • There appears to be four aspects of God’s preservation:
        • Metaphysical: This is God’s act to keep the universe in being (Col. 1:17b).  Without God, there would be no world.  There would be no life.
        • Redemptive-historical: This is God’s temporary preservation of the world from His holy and final judgment.
          • Example: Adam and Eve should of died immediately, but they did not because of God’s grace Gen. 2:17).  He even preserved their descendants (Gen. 3:16)
          • Example of redemptive-historical preservation being cut-off: The Flood (Gen. 6-9)
          • Example of redemptive-historical preservation returning: God said He will be patient (Gen. 8:21-22)
          • Implication: Paul knew ultimately that God’s patience will run out soon.  As a result, he was eager to preach the Gospel at Lystra (Acts 14:17), Athens (Acts 17:25-28), and elsewhere.  We should be motivated like Paul, because God’s preservation of sinful humanity will end one day.
        • Covenant preservation: God will stand with His people.
          • Gen. 45:5; Ex. 20:12; Deut. 6:12, 24; Josh. 24:17; Ps 16:1; 31:23; 37:28; 66:9
          • God is our refuge (Deut. Deut. 33:27; Ps. 9:9; 14:6)
          • God’s preservation of His people does not always mean that tribulation or persecution is non-existent, but it does mean that our soul will not see decay (Ps. 16:10).  He will carry us through.
        • Eternal providence: Our soul is safe in Him
          • John 5:25,  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
          • John 10:27-20, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
            • This passage is also used in support of perseverance of the saints.  It must be clear, that not all who profess God’s Word is saved (John 8:31-59).  Not all are genuine.
            • The Bible says that there will be apostates. Judas Iscariot is one prime example.  As an apostate, he also cast out demons and healed the sick.
            • There are also serious warnings concerning apostasy: Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26-30; 1 John 2:19.
    • [More Verses]:
      • Neh. 9:6, “You alone are the Lord.
        You have made the heavens,
        The heaven of heavens with all their host,
        The earth and all that is on it,
        The seas and all that is in them.
        You give life to all of them
        And the heavenly host bows down before You.”
      • Col. 1:17, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
      • Heb. 1:3, “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
  • Concurrence (Frame, 180-182)
    • [Explanation]: Focuses on His presence with His creatures.  Concurrence also takes into account the divine primary and secondary causes of all events in this world–whether bad or good.  Yes, He is the cause of all things, but is not culpable for sin.  He has a grand purpose for good and evil.
      • In contrast, the Jesuits, Socinians, and Remonstransts, believe that God  determines all things, but not the specific actions that His creatures performs.  Their theory fits wells  with the libertarian view of free-will, which I believe is inadequate in explaining the topic of evil.
      • Please see Job 38-42, Romans 9, and Habakkuk to help one develop a biblically centered view on evil.
      • For more on this topic, please see SLIMJIM’s book review:https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/review-the-grand-demonstration-by-jay-adams/
  • Government (Frame, 173)
    • [Explanation]: This points to the manner in which God directs creation to a purpose/end.
      • In light of Christ’s return, we are motivated to fight sin by the grace of God:
        • Col. 3:1-4Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
      • In light of His return, our priorities must be in order and different from the world:
        • 2 Peter 3:11, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.”
        • Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
      • In light of Christ’s imminent return, we need to be eager now, not later.  We need to ready to meet Him:
        • 2 Peter 3:12, “Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!”
        • 1 John 3:3, “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
          • Be fixed on Him now!  Have undistracted devotion (cf. 1 Cor. 7:35, “This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.”)
        • 1 Thess. 5:1-10
        • 1 Peter 1:7, “So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
        • 2 Peter 3:14, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace,spotless and blameless.”
      • In light of Christ’s return, we know that our labors are not in vain.
        • 1 Cor. 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
      • In light of Christ’s return, we know that the pains and affliction of this world is only temporary:
        • Luke 21:28, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
      • In light of Christ’s return, we should labor because God will reward His people.  Obviously, we know we do it primarily for God’s glory, but there is a myriad of verses that points to God rewarding His people.  This is part of His governance.  It is not unseemly to consider them.
        • Ps. 19:11, “Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.”
        • Matt. 5:12, 46, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”
        • Matt. 6:1, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
        • Matt. 10:41-42,He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.42 And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”
        • Rom. 14:10, “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”
        • 1 Cor. 3:8-15Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
        • 1 Cor. 9:17-18, 25, “For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.” 25  “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
        • 2 Cor. 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
        • Col. 3:23-25, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.”
        • 2 Tim. 4:8, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
        • James 1:12, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
        • 1 Peter 5:4, “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
        • 2 John 8, “Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.”
  • Revelation (Frame, 173)
    • [Explanation]: The providence of God seen via His revelation demonstrates His authority.  This is seen in His Word.
      • Ps. 147:15-20, “He sends forth His command to the earth;
        His word runs very swiftly.
        16 He gives snow like wool;
        He scatters the frost like ashes.
        17 He casts forth His ice as fragments;
        Who can stand before His cold?
        18 He sends forth His word and melts them;
        He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.
        19 He declares His words to Jacob,
        His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.
        20 He has not dealt thus with any nation;
        And as for His ordinances, they have not known them.
        Praise the Lord!
      • Providence reveals the wisdom of God, which is closely related to Scripture (authority)
        • Ps. 104; Prov. 8:22, 36)
      • Providence via His revelation demonstrates His Lordship
      • His authority seen in His revelation shows His wrath against Sin (Rom. 1:18), reveals His eternal power and divine nature (v. 20),  His decree (v. 32), etc.
      • Because of His providence seen in His Scriptural authority, people should not worship men (Acts 14:14-17) or idols (Rom. 1:23), or engage in sexual immorality (Rom. 1:2427).

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