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About Doctrines

God's Providence



How can someone fall into “evil” circumstances and say that God uses it for good?

Look at Joseph. His story, which told in Genesis chapters 37-50, finds him being sold into slavery and carried away into a foreign country. There he spends time in jail, becomes a ruler, and then is reunited with his family. And what does he tell them? “It’s ok brothers, God planned it this way all along.” Gen 50:20

How can this be?

The answer is God’s providence.

The word providence finds its origin in the Greek word pronoia that literally means foresight, forethought, or making provision beforehand. The idea is one of knowing in advance the conditions that will transpire and making arrangements to handle such circumstances. In cases like Joseph’s, the idea is that God knew in advance the evil intentions of Joseph’s brothers. God permitted them to commence their plan, but then caused certain changes to the circumstances to cause good to result. Joseph became a ruler, the family was united, the family moved to Egypt and the nation of Israel was secure in a location where it could grow from 70 people to several million people.

In biblical terms, providence is the doctrine of God’s preserving and governing all things. In God’s case, this is a supernatural, divine event, for God not only foresees all events, but He uses His powers to accomplish His purposes and plans within these events. Providence is, thus, directly tied to God’s sovereignty and position as Creator. As Creator, God's governance encompasses all things, from the creation of the world to the conclusion of time, space, and matter. This includes all aspects of human existence, destiny, and the events of life. To quote from The Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology:

Providence, then, is the sovereign, divine superintendence of all things, guiding them toward their divinely predetermined end in a way that is consistent with their created nature, all to the glory and praise of God. This divine, sovereign, and benevolent control of all things by God is the underlying premise of everything that is taught in the Scriptures. [1]

The actual working of God’s providence is not explained in the Scriptures. It is clear that God uses “secondary causes” to accomplish His purposes

Psalms 18:35
You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great. NKJV
Acts 17:28
for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ NKJV

yet, it is equally clear that this governance extends to

God’s providence includes a special blessing for those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and placed their full and complete on-going trust in Him. Here, God assures that all events ultimately work for the good of the believer. Not only does He hold the believer in His hands [Psalm 31:15 My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, And from those who persecute me. NKJV], but when we allow Him, He will direct our every step [Psalm 40:15 Let them be confounded because of their shame, Who say to me, “Aha, aha!” NKJV]. The direction He takes us, even when we fail to follow Him, is always for our own good. Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. NKJV

What needs to be recognized and acknowledged about God’s providence is that His government is consistent with his own perfection

2 Timothy 2:13
If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.NKJV

This perfection means that all things work, ultimately, to God’s own glory

Romans 9:17
For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” NKJV

Romans 11:36
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. NKJV

[1] Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49516-6287. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

 

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