As promised a few posts ago, this study would look to the scriptures to understand and define God’s Providence in terms of his work of preservation, concurrence and governance, both for his general care for all that he has made and his particular will for those who have said “yes” to God and all that he has provided for them in Christ.
So far, we have focused on God’s general work of preservation, concurrence and governance.
To recap –
We all benefit from God’s general preservation – God gives and sustains our life, form, an environment in which to live, and a personal will in which to choose.
We all benefit from God’s general concurrence – God chooses to work through his laws of nature through his power and with people through the maintenance of their freewill, giving them the opportunity to have a genuine relationship with him.
We all benefit from God’s general governance – God is active in the guidance of nature and the course of human history, of which everyone is affected by whether they choose the acknowledge him as God or not. It is also in God’s general governance that we find the work of Christ made available for all.
Now we are going to see how God is at work in the world for the believer in particular ways.
I read an interesting book on the nature of God called The God Who is Triune. In this book, author and theologian Allen Coppedge explains,
“The Triune God works in the world to accomplish his primary purpose by enabling, by grace, all persons to choose a shared life of close relationship with himself (redemption). If they choose what God has made available, he enables them to choose his other purposes for them. Clearly, the whole discussion of providence is connected with redemption. God cannot bring about his purposes for persons apart from redeeming them.”
This makes a lot of sense to me. All of God’s general work- his preserving, concurring and governing activity in this world, is all for the purpose of enabling us, by grace, to say “yes” to life with God.
When we say “yes” to God, his promises in scripture become particular for us and the categories of providence become even richer with meaning.
When we are in the Particular Providential will of God we benefit not only from his general care but also more completely from God’s particular will.
We benefit more completely from God’s particular preservation: In relationship with God through Christ we are actually preserved in the love of God, we are sustained and cared for, and, though danger may befall us, we shall not perish but have eternal life.
We benefit more completely from God’s particular concurrence: In relationship with God through Christ God makes his will known to his people and teaches them how to cooperate with his will.
We also benefit more completely from God’s particular governance: In a relationship with God through Christ, we can actually be a participant in the execution of God’s will in real-time.
I am struck by Jesus words in John 14:12-14,
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Jesus’ teaching here is twofold. He is saying that those who believe in him can participate in the activity of God bringing about his plans and purposes in this world, which is exciting. But Jesus is also saying that in order to walk increasingly in the particular providential will of God we must commit ourselves to grow in faith and prayer, which we will get into next time…
- Concerning particular preservation, what stands out to you for the survey of verses below?
- With the survey of verses concerning particular concurrence in mind, how is God been teaching you to cooperate with him and know his will?
- God is active in this world and he invites us to actively participate in the execution of his will; to see his kingdom come and his will be done. How has he provided for us to participate in his governing activity of bringing about his purposes on earth?
A survey of scripture on God’s particular preservation for believers:
Psalm 37:28– For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.
John 3:16- For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 10:27-30- My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
John 14:2-3- My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
1 Corinthians 1:8– He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:13-14– And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
1 Peter 1:3-5- Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
A survey of scripture on God’s particular work of concurrence through believers:
Matthew 6:9-10– This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’
Matthew 10:19-20– But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the spirit of your Father speaking through you.
John 16:13- But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
Romans 12:2- And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Colossians 1:9b-12- We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
A survey of scripture on God’s particular work of governance through believers:
Matthew 5:14-16– Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 28:18-20– Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 20- For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again … We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
Ephesians 2:10– For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Philippians 3:10-12– I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Hebrews 13:20a, 21– Now may the God of peace … equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ.