Friday, March 17, 2017

God's Providence Manifested in Four General Ways

God exercises his role over every sphere of life. One of the ways we typically express this belief is through the idea of providence. The idea of God's Providence is addressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith:
We confess that God the great Creator of all things doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his Sean Michael Lucas. On Being Presbyterian: Our Beliefs, Practices, And Stories (Kindle Locations 283-285). Kindle Edition. most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy. (WCF 5.1)
God's providence has to do with four types or categories of divine activity: upholding, directing, disposing, and governing

God the King is upholding "the universe by the word of his power" (Heb. 1:3) in such a way that, if he were to stop doing so, the world would cease to exist. Another way of putting ting this is that "in him all things hold together"; in a way that we don't really grasp, God in Christ is sustaining the world so that we live and move and have our being "in him" (Col. 1:17; Acts 17:28).

God the King is also directing the events of human history. Most importantly, God orchestrated human history so that "when the fullness ness of time had come, God sent forth his Son" (Gal. 4:4). All of ancient history led up to the moment of the incarnation of Jesus Christ: the preservation of the Messianic line, the administration of the old covenant and Jewish kingdom, the movement of world powers to return the Jews to Palestine, even the call for the worldwide census that brought Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem from their native Nazareth-each event was part of God's directing of human affairs. God the King continues to fit together his larger story of salvation with our smaller life-stories in such a way that it is a grand mosaic proclaiming his glory.

Further, God the King disposed events to turn out a certain way in line with his perfect and secret plan. God disposed that it would be Isaac, not Ishmael; Jacob, not Esau; Moses, not Aaron who would uniquely lead his people. God disposed that Pharaoh would react in certain ways so that God would demonstrate that he alone was the true God (Ex. 4:21). In ways that we cannot fully understand, God even disposed that Adam would sin in the garden of Eden and thus begin the entire story of redemption (WCF 5.4). 

Finally, God the King governs human beings and their actions. We can say this because we that no part of God's creation is exempt from God's providence. It is not as though Pharaoh was under God's control, but Adam was not; or Cyrus was under God's control, but Augustus Caesar was not. All of God's creatures are under his control. Even inanimate objects and forces are under God's control.