Monday, November 15, 2010

Is God In Control Of Even Accidents? Thoughts On The Providence Of God

The Bible teaches plainly, Old Testament and New alike, that God is not only the Creator of the world, but he also upholds it, directs it, rules over it and moves it to accomplish his will, according to his eternal decree in eternity past.  God "works all things according to the counsel of his will" (Ephesians 1:11), which means that God is active in ALL things, making them work out according to his plan.  No creature's will can throw a wrench into his plans, for "he does all that he pleases" (Psalm 115:3), and "no purpose of yours can be thwarted (Job 42:2).  In fact, God does not apologize for his providence, but delights in his sovereign power, declaring through Isaiah:
for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ ...I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.  Isaiah 42:9-11, ESV
God is glorified in his providence! 

It is not just that God has power to turn things around and make them work out for the best, as if he were a cosmic maid going around and cleaning up our messes; Scripture makes it clear that God has purposed all that happens - has decreed it from eternity past, and now powerfully works to align all things with his word.

It is amazing to see the specific things Scripture attributes to the sovereign providence of God!  Even the roll of the dice - "chance" itself - is declared to be controlled by God's power, according to his everlasting decree (Proverbs 16:33)!  What about "accidents"?  If chance does not exist apart from God's control, can there even be such a thing as an accident?  Scripture attributes even 'accidental' deaths to the providence of God ("...God let him fall into his hand" Exodus 21:13).  Jesus himself believes in the sovereign providence of God, and taught that God controls even the death of birds!  He said that not even a sparrow can fall to the ground apart from the will of God (Matthew 10:29).

What about the weather?  God is shown to raise up the storm, and then calm it (Psalm 107:25, 29).  God is said to be in control of supplying his creation with food (Psalm 136:25).  Even the heart and mind of man is not off limits to the ruling King of the universe!  He turns the heart, even of earthly kings, "wherever he will" (Proverbs 21:1), and "it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).  Both to will and to work?  This means that God is able to cause us to "will" what he wants us to will, while we remain responsible!  Oh, the mysterious - yet glorious - providence of God!

This teaching was not given to us so that we would have endless debates about it, softening its meaning and finding ways to still elevate man.  It was also not given to us so that we could be self-righteous and prideful in our knowledge of Bible doctrine.  It was given to us so that we may glorify the God who powerfully works all things according to the counsel of his will, and "upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3)!  So that we may know him and love him and rest in his sovereign power when we are in the midst of trials, knowing that a good God is in control.  Glorify the sovereign Lord!
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ...For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.   Romans 11:33, 36, ESV

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