God’s Providence Is Our Confidence

Institutes 1.17.3 – 1.17.7

There are many and varied responses to and attitudes toward the subject of the Providence of God over the lives of people. Some pervert it; others embrace it.

There are those who would say that if God is in control of everyone and everything that happens, then He is to blame for all of the adversity that we have experienced in life and He should shoulder the blame for the sins that we commit. Those who hold to this belief fail to take into account and assume responsibility for their actions that cause and contribute to many of the difficult and adverse times they experience in life. They also fail to accept personal responsibility for their sin. (1.17.3) The Lord Who is good is not the author of evil, and being holy, He does not tempt or lead people to sin.

God is sovereign. We are responsible.

Then, there are those who would say that since the Lord is providentially over all of life, they are excused “from due prudence” with respect to living their lives. In other words, they don’t have to apply themselves to life, the Lord will take care of everything. (1.17.4) Calvin writes,

For he who has fixed the the boundries of our life, has at the same time entrusted us with the care of it, provided us with the means of preserving it, forewarned us of the dangers to which we are exposed, and supplied caution and remedies, that we may not be overwhelmed unawares.”

God is sovereign. We have responsibility.

When giving consideration to man and the sins he commits, Calvin makes the point in 1.17.5 that the Lord is not only Lord over the sinner, He is, may I say, Lord over even the sin and its consequences. That is, “in his boundless wisdom he well knows how to use bad instruments for good purposes.” Think of Jehovah’s providence over Pharoah, Cyrus and David and their hearts and actions. Did the Lord not accomplish His purposes and receive glory in and through these men?

The Lord is sovereign.

For the child of God, His providence over and care for His own is our assurance and confidence for life and eternity. The knowledge and experience of this in our lives will be “followed by gratitude in prosperity, patience in adversity, and incredible security for the time to come.”

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I would be excited to hear your testimony about how the Lord has worked providentially and sovereignly in your life. Give Him the glory.

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