What is God's Providence?

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Robin

Puritan Board Junior
Okay, Fred, Matt, et al....

Do you have a moment to recap and comment on what is the Biblical notion of Providence (as a Reformed catagory) and what a Christian coming out of the Arminian, semi-Pelagian field, traveling to the Reformed camp is to make of interpreting God's will - when, perhaps, they've been used to "looking for signs" of God guiding them. (Remember that awful teaching by Henry Blackaby - "Experiencing God"?)

How should we view God's overall governing of our lives -- if we can't interpret events as being signs of God "speaking" to us? Am I to wait for a "sign" so I can switch jobs; marry somebody; decide which cheesecake to buy?

Help, please....

Robin :chained:
 

ReformedWretch

Puritan Board Doctor
A book our pastor recomended and that I much enjoyed is;

Step by Step Divine Guidance for ordinary Christians by: James C. Petty
 

BlackCalvinist

Puritan Board Senior
and for those who don't have the time or resources to purchase a particular book right away, but look for discussion in this thread or a good article on the web, how would some of you define that ?

In a previous thread, I laid out a situation (more than one) that I think worked well with/agreed with WLC 18 -"A. God's works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to his own glory." How does that answer 'flesh out' in reformed theology for some of you ?

[Edited on 3-9-2005 by OS_X]
 

ABondSlaveofChristJesus

Puritan Board Freshman
If God is dependent on human action to act he wouldn't be sovereign. What is peoples take on this statement? Does that mean that everything we do is originated by God, or done rather by God through us than us ourselves? God is like an author of a story and we are the characters. Adam was under the covenant of works, but according to the statement, God would have made him eat the fruit. I can see how God could do this in such an indirect way that he wouldn't be sinning (restraining grace.) This providence issue is so confusing. :banghead:
 

Robin

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by OS_X
and for those who don't have the time or resources to purchase a particular book right away, but look for discussion in this thread or a good article on the web, how would some of you define that ?

In a previous thread, I laid out a situation (more than one) that I think worked well with/agreed with WLC 18 -"A. God's works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to his own glory." How does that answer 'flesh out' in reformed theology for some of you ?

[Edited on 3-9-2005 by OS_X]

This is a huge topic....for now - it may be useful to read this article about Calvin's understanding of the Holy Spirit:

http://www.rutherfordhouse.org.uk/journals/calvin.htm

Though understanding Providence is the catagory needed -- it is also vital to know what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit and His workings....Calvin does a superb bible study on that! (We can all learn from history.)

Kerry...I'm glad to answer questions and have a more efficient dialog with you...which may be better attained through personal e mails. You're right about trying to communicate well via internet postboards --- it's not easy.

Cordially,

Robin :)
 

tdowns

Puritan Board Junior
Decision making and the will of God

Has anybody read the above book? I read it long before I had even heard of reformed stuff (outside of MacCarther) I think he recommends it. Is it the reformed stance?

TD
 

BlackCalvinist

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by Robin
Originally posted by OS_X
and for those who don't have the time or resources to purchase a particular book right away, but look for discussion in this thread or a good article on the web, how would some of you define that ?

In a previous thread, I laid out a situation (more than one) that I think worked well with/agreed with WLC 18 -"A. God's works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures; ordering them, and all their actions, to his own glory." How does that answer 'flesh out' in reformed theology for some of you ?

[Edited on 3-9-2005 by OS_X]

This is a huge topic....for now - it may be useful to read this article about Calvin's understanding of the Holy Spirit:

http://www.rutherfordhouse.org.uk/journals/calvin.htm

Though understanding Providence is the catagory needed -- it is also vital to know what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit and His workings....Calvin does a superb bible study on that! (We can all learn from history.)

Kerry...I'm glad to answer questions and have a more efficient dialog with you...which may be better attained through personal e mails. You're right about trying to communicate well via internet postboards --- it's not easy.

Cordially,

Robin :)

Cool, Robin! I think my e-mail address is on here in my profile, but if not, it's my name at theologicallycorrect dot com (pretty much, ANYTHING at theologicallycorrect dot com will get to me, except for 'articles', and 'spam' - I auto delete those).

Thanks for the link! (clicking and printing)

I'll comment after reading and when I get home.

:)
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Providence is extremely hard to "figure out". God has not given us all a book that says, "œMatthew, when you encounter this situation, here are the three steps I want you to take, and after that, here are the next four steps you need to take, and then after that everything will be just fine."

Instead, God directs us through principle. That is exceedingly difficult to handle overall, but He designed life in a way that best suits sanctification. It would be much easier to have 150,000 volume library on every step of your life. Just read the next chapter and you know what happens. But instead, God placed those principles in a little book, a one volume principle library that guides us based not only on using prudence and wisdom, but also by a wisdom that is not given simply by "œfiguring" a situation, but by the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit impressing those Biblical thoughts upon us as we go through life.

We know God orders all things, but he allows us to feel as though we are working things out - as it should be. God does have an iron will that we rationally accept (the compound sense), but He has worked out the biblical volume in such a way as to set it in the context of the divided sense, or the sense that life seems to go on day in and day out with event that we are a part of. God, in His ordinary providence, makes use of all means, yet He is free to work without, above, and against them, at His pleasure (Acts 27:24, 31, 44; Isa. 55:10-11; Hosea 1:7; Matt. 4:4; Job 34:20; Rom. 4:19-21; II Kings 6:6; Dan. 3:27). This is comforting and distressing at the same time. For example, the Confession states, "œThe most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave, for a season, his own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends. (II Chr. 32:25-26, 31; Deut. 8:2-3, 5; Luke 22:31-32; see II Sam. 24:1, 25; II Cor. 12:7-9; see Psa. 73:1-28; 77:1-12; Mark 14: 66-72; John 21:15-19)" We have to day, "œOkay, I´ll deal with that by the power of the sanctifying Spirit." But its not fun.

Let me use a real hard example for me and I think this may be helpful. My wife has had 5 miscarriages (at different times in pregnancy) and one tubule pregnancy. God´s normal means is not to wait for her to be 89 years old as Sarah was. His normal means is to have women pregnant at earlier ages. Its still possible for my wife to be pregnant, but for some providential reason, it just does not "œstick". The doctors at one point even thought our blood types might be incompatible, and that her antibodies were attacking the child in its early stages. But that was ruled out. She had surgery to check tubes, and there were some problems, but they were fixed, and yet, it happened twice after that. You would figure that God would desire to have "œgodly seed." His word says, Malachi 2:15, "œHe seeks godly offspring." We all know that "œchildren in general are God´s blessing to us to raise such seeds and fulfill the cultural mandate on the earth. Psalm 127:3, "œBehold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward." They are a reward. They are a heritage. I have no heritage and no reward in this sense. Yes, I have 6 dead children, but this is not the same, nor the context of the Scriptures above, or of other Scriptures, that deal with children. You know, the other 1200 verses of the Old Testament that talk about children and heritages and seeds and vineyards of families and generations, etc. I have no heritage, and no generations. The line will have to continue with my brother and his children, of which, gratefully, he has one girl; and he is a Christian.

Now we know God has given us Scripture after Scripture about children and how families should raise such blessings. Time and Time and Time again God gives various commands on how we are to think about children in this life. So, it would be glib of me to simply say, "œWell, its just God´s providence," knowing full well that God has given specific commands in one way or another about how we raise our children. I find it personally ironic that I am so "œinto" Covenant Theology in this respect, and I have no living children at all. I find it ironic that God would so fire me up about children, and yet at the same time, have none of my own. Like Jeremiah, Jeremiah 16:2, "You shall not "¦have sons or daughters in this place." And so he does without. Can you imagine telling a Jewish man, Jeremiah, this? What would he be thinking? What does a Covenant Theologian think? Am I saddened? There are days that are better than others on this. Today, as you probably can tell, is one of those providential days that are harder than others. So there is a wrestling here going on that on the one hand tells me that I should have certain concepts and ideas about how God thinks about the family and about children. And so I am angered at those who would not heed what God says, or are lax in the way that people at church handle their "œgodly seed." They have a chance to raise them as God-fearers and covenant children. Many don´t care, or have done such a poor job, even one like me who has no children, can tell that they have done a poor job. Then, you have my wife and me. We are content with His providence that He is in control, but we have and will do everything we can to fulfill the cultural mandate. We try to have children, and upon each failure we try again. Providence in sanctification is hard. But that is where we must take the Scriptures and rely on two things: 1) that God has decreed it (the compound sense) and 2) He has mandated us to raise Godly seed, so we continue to try (the divided sense).

Providence is a tricky business. But God involves us in it so that we 1) follow the Scriptures, still knowing He is in control, but 2) work out that salvation we are currently running in to fulfill all righteousness. God is slick. He leaves no stone unturned for the good of His church, not matter ho hard or easy providence may be. He knows, in the end, that even more important that a godly heritage of children, that we are conformed into the image of Christ "“ which glorifies Him in His eternal plan.
 
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