How Can We Have Faith In God’s Plan
To understand why we can have faith, I want to turn your attention to two Scriptures:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future .
But as the Scriptures say, No one has ever seen, no one has ever heard, no one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love him .
Here is why you can trust Gods plan because it is the best thing going. If you truly believe that God loves you, then you must believe that he has nothing but the best planned for you. Gods plan for you is not limited to the number of years we live on this earth. Gods divine providence involves you spending your eternity with him, where you see and experience the fullness of Gods presence and the fullness of his joy. This is the destiny that God has prepared for you and he will carefully watch over it until it comes to pass.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are Yes in Christ. And so through him the Amen is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come .
The Free Will Defense
That all of sin and so much of suffering counts as moral evil isadvantageous to free will theodicy, for according to the free willdefense moral evil is not to be blamed upon God. It is entirely ourfault that is, entirely the fault of rational beings whoemploy their wills to pursue evil. This is because we have freewill, which is to be understood here in what is known as thelibertarian sense. We exercise libertarian freedom in formingor executing an intention only if our deciding or willing is not theproduct of deterministic causation that is, provided there isno set of conditions independent of our exercise of will which,together with scientific law, make it certain that we shall decide orwill as we do. Independent conditions our motives and beliefs,for example may incline us toward one or another intention oraction. But they cannot guarantee it, because what we decide and whatwe strive to achieve is finally up to us. Were it not so, we could notbe held accountable for our actions. We would be no more responsiblethan someone who acted out of a psychological compulsion such askleptomania, or who was a victim of addiction, hypnosis or thelike.
What Does It Mean When You Keep Seeing The Same Word Everywhere
Baader-Meinhof is the phenomenon where one stumbles upon some obscure piece of informationoften an unfamiliar word or nameand soon afterwards encounters the same subject again, often repeatedly. Intuition tells us that Baader-Meinhof strikes with blurring accuracy, and too frequently to be explained away so easily.
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Basic Forms Of Providence
Basically, there are two possible forms of belief in providence. The first is belief in more or less divine beings that are responsible for the world generally and for the welfare of humans specifically. Although omnipotence as an attribute of gods is rare, it is true that, as a rule, gods and other divine beings have considerable power not only over human destiny but also over nature. The gods take care of the world and of humankind, and their intentions toward humans are normally positive. The capriciousness and arbitrariness of the gods of paganism exist for the most part only in the imagination of those Christian theologians who attempted to denigrate the pagan religions. Gods and humans are generally connected into one community by reciprocal duties and privileges. The belief in evil spirits does not contradict this belief in providence but, on the contrary, strengthens it, just as in Christianity the belief in Satan might serve to strengthen the belief in God.
What Does The Bible Say About Divine Providence
The Bible only uses the word providence once in Acts 24:2. This verse was part of a passage of Scripture that told of the High Priest accusing Paul of causing trouble. At one point, Paul was called before the governor where his accusers addressed the governor with an overflowing amount of respect, telling him how they benefited from the wonderful deeds that he had done to the nation by his providence. Their use of the word providence, demonstrated that they looked to man as their provider and protector.
When you look at the Greek word for providence in the Bible, it is also translated as provision in Romans 13:14. This passage uses it as part of an admonition not to make provision for lustful desires of the flesh because there is much work to be done for the Lord. In both New Testament uses of this word, it makes a definite reference to providing for something for others. You find the same concept when you look at the Hebrew word for provision that is also translated into words that refer to meat or food.
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The Old Testament Is A Story Of Providence
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The story of the Old Testament is nothing if not a story of divine providence. On every page, in every promise, behind every prophecy is the sure hand of God. He sustains all things, directs all things, plans all things, ordains all things, superintends all things, works all things after the counsel of his will.
This is not a small theme in the Old Testament. Providence is not merely an implied truth, deduced from a handful of obscure passages. No, the doctrine of divine providence is the soundtrack of Scripture. It is everywhere present even if at times you are not consciously aware of it. Like the book of Esther where Gods name is never mentioned but everything from a beauty contest to a kings insomnia serve to advance Gods purposes. The God of the Bible is a big God who does not leave things to chance. He does not simply react he predestines. He does not merely turn hard situations for our good he ordains hard situations for our good. Our God is never confused and never caught off guard. His will, to quote Augustine, is the necessity of all things.
What is Providence?
The God of Sovereign Sway
Even death is in the Lords hands.
The Lord brings death and makes alive he brings down to the grave and raises up . There is no other god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life. I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand .
Power with a Purpose
God Is Great, God Is Good
How Far Does Gods Providence Reach
What, then, is the extent of his providence? How far does it reach? How detailed is it? What does it include? My answer from Scripture is that Gods providence is all-pervading and all-embracing. There is nothing nothing in the universe that lies outside Gods meticulous and infinitely far-reaching governance.
In Ephesians 1:11, Paul refers to the predestining God as he who works all things according to the counsel of his will.
The climax of the book of Job says, I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted .
In Isaiah 46:10, God says that part of what it means to be God is this: My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.
Providence is Gods use of his power and his authority to bring about an ultimate purpose for the universe.
So, he governs all things. All his purpose is achieved. No purpose can be thwarted. And that is true, Jesus said, of the smallest details, like a bird falling from the sky . Isaiah said it was true of the biggest things, like placing the stars in place and calling them all by name . And Luke said in Acts 4:2728 that this providence even governs the sinful actions of Christ-killing Herod, Pilate, Jews, Gentiles all of us, basically. The extent of Gods providence is all-pervading and all-embracing.
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God Controls The Hard Things To Bring About Good
One aspect of Gods providence is his participation in human affairs. There are dozens of examples in the Bible of Gods personal involvement in the lives of individuals.
But this does not always mean things will be peachy.
For example, Josephs envious brothers sold him as a slave . Still, he told them later that Gods providential hand was involved. Joseph could see in hindsight how even the evil of his forced slavery was used by God to save Egypt and its surrounding nations from famine.
He said to his brothers, As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today .
God is able to direct even the worst things in our lives to bring about good, because God is good . By acknowledging both Gods governance and his goodness, we honor him.
One biblical character named Job also knew a lot about suffering. He understood that even when God sends suffering, he deserves praise, because he is still accomplishing his good purposes. Job said, The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away blessed be the name of the Lord .
God conducts even the hardship in our lives, that he may bring about goodness, as we see in both Jobs and Josephs lives.
Why Is Gods Providence Important
Believers experience the everyday trials of human life as well as trials that come from following and serving God. When suffering, the believers faith can suffer. One can be overcome with fear, doubt and despair. In those times, we question God. Knowing that God is providentially at work even in our suffering is a source of hope and strength.
We can be sure that God is with us always and that the Holy Spirit dwells in us and is working out Gods purpose in our lives. Even when we suffer and do not understand the reason why we can trust God and his purpose for our lives.
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What Is Gods Providence And Why Is It Misunderstood
The word providence combines the prefix pro with the Latin word viderebecoming provideo. While some scholars include the word foresight in its definition, the word providence has a wider scope than the foreknowledge of God. Explained in todays vernacular, provideo breaks down into pro and videre . Bible teacher John Piper says provideo means to see to something and supply what is needed, much like the word provision. In other words, Piper says, seeing something with a purpose is to make provision for what you see. Providence is the act of Gods seeing to the universe.
Most secular thinking assumes everything happens according to fixed natural causes. Secularists say, Godif He actually existsis merely a spectator with no immediate control. Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., wrote about the 19th-century deistic view: God, it was suggested, had created the world much as a clock, and had wound it up to move by its own direction. Contemporary writers suggest that though God created the world and set the original forces in order, God has either ceased to show His will or is unable to make His will productive within creation. This is clearly in opposition to biblical theism, Mohler said.
Moral Evil And Defeasibility
If the author of sin objection does not succeed in defeating thetraditional view, then what is left is the question of whether God hassufficiently good reason for decreeing the evil that exists. Thestandard free will defense, which works only by diminishingGods authority and circumscribing his providence, is notavailable to the theological determinist. Can the theistsresponse to the argument from evil survive the loss of the standardfree will defense?
An objection may be raised at this point. It is not a part of ourreligious tradition that all are saved. St. Paul, for example, seemsclearly to have believed that some, the elect, are destined from thebeginning for salvation, and others not, and the same appears true of Jesushimself . And it is part ofstandard theology that, after death, the saved are joined to God inthe beatific vision, a state of eternal and indescribable joy. Thelost fare far worse. They are condemned to the bitter and devastatingfrustration of permanent separation from their creator, and on manyaccounts to a lot of other miseries as well. Now on the present view,God is as much involved in the rebellion of the reprobate as in theconversion of the saved. And one may well wonder what could justifythis. Why should a loving God create creatures destined fordamnation?
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Teaching Gods Providence In History
In a recent church service, my pastor referred to a quotation in which Abraham Lincoln was called one of the greatest theologians of America. At first I was taken back by this statement. Over the decades, Lincolns fame has won him many accolades, but theologian was not one I had heard before, not one I would have given to him.
My pastor continued, Lincoln did not earn this title because he produced some system of doctrine or defended a particular denominations teaching, but because he saw the hand of God immediately in the affairs of nations. Now this meaning of theologian made sense. From what I had studied about Lincoln , he constantly referred to Gods providential leading and control in history. This illustration prompted me to think about the teaching of history. Would that every teacher of history be such a theologian, constantly settling before his students the great truth of Gods providence in history.
History, when rightly written, is but a record of providence and he who would read history rightly, must read it with his eyes constantly fixed on the hand of God. This statement of a nineteenth-century historian sums up the responsibility of the Christian teacher of history, for he who would teach history rightly, must teach it with his eyes constantly fixed on the hand of God.
For more information on this topic, see The Providence of God in History, a booklet available from BJU Press.
God Directs As We Make Decisions
The Bible also says that God works through our own decisions. In a mysterious way God planned that our freedom to make choices would not contradict his directing hand.
- In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps .
- The kings heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord he turns it wherever he will .
- For dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations .
Clearly God is involved both in the fate of nations, and in the lives of the individual people of those nations. While we have freedom to make decisions, ultimately all things happen according to Gods grand plan.
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What Are Some Examples Divine Providence In The Bible
We see Gods providence in Abraham telling his son Isaac, God will provide the needed sacrifice . God caused Pharaohs daughter to hear the cry of a tiny baby, and later used well-taught, sensitive Moses to change the destiny of His chosen people . Naomi struggled to understand Gods dealings with her and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, but she didnt doubt His plan . God worked in the hearts of the pagan Egyptians, King Artaxerxes, King Nebuchadnezzar, and King Darius. The Father also worked in Jobs circumstancesgiving Satan permission to ruin the patriarchs lifeand Job grew in vibrant faith.
Gods providence is written throughout the book of Esther, even though the casual reader might not be aware of it. Godwhose name is not mentioned in the bookorchestrated a beauty contest, a kings insomnia, and a dinner banquet to advance His purposes and rescue His people from Hamans evil plans and the kings irrevocable edict.
In a wonderful New Testament example, Saul of Tarsus persecuted the early church, but the entire timeas Saul kick against the goads of conviction after witnessing and approving of Stephens deathGod providentially prepared him for future ministry.
Seeing And Savoring All
First, what is in this book on providence and in these episodes is the foundation of every single answer I ever give on this program. If people understand what I mean by the providence of God and its benefits, it will inform and deepen every single answer that they ever hear on this podcast. Thats reason number one.
Second, since Gods providence is all-embracing and all-pervading, it relates powerfully, meaningfully, immediately to every situation in every persons life. Nothing is outside the providence of God. His design in his providence at every moment of our lives is relevant for how we live and how we respond to everything that comes our way.
Gods design in his providence at every moment of our lives is relevant for how we live and respond to everything.
This would be another reason why it feels so fitting to put the series here: I really want our listeners to have this book on their shelf as a reference book for a hundred issues in their lives and ministry. I know and you know, Tony, that most people do not read seven-hundred-page books. But they do put them on their shelves if they have three thousand Bible references in the index that enable them to find the issue theyre dealing with and see how the providence of God relates to it. I am jealous that our listeners our listeners, especially have access to those thousand passages of Scripture that bring the providence of God to bear on their lives.
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