There are few doctrines that are as glorious as the Providence of God. The fact that every particle of the smallest atom is vivified, governed, and ordained by a benevolent God has massive implications in all spheres of existence. In the context of the Church, its teleological implications are summarized gloriously in Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” As the children of God–as those who have been adopted by the Father through the merit of his Son, we know that every struggle with sin, every confrontation by the Adversary, every stop light, and every spilt cup of coffee are working harmoniously together for our ultimate good. We cannot even pretend to begin to grasp this or what the culmination of all things will look like at the end of days, but we do know this–God will be fully glorified, and we will fully delight in his glory.
Such a glorious doctrine demands an appropriate response. Unfortunately, the doctrine of the Providence of God has more often than not has been met with inappropriate responses from the Church than appropriate ones, ranging from intellectual arrogance to radical passivity. What is an appropriate response to God’s Providence?
1. Cultivate Humility in Our Hearts
The absolute and teleological governance of God over all things leaves little room for what is affectionately know as “free will.” Scripture says this particularly with regards to the salvation of souls in Romans 8:29-30:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn of many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
The appropriate response to such a weighty truth, namely God’s Providence over the salvation of souls is absolute humility. For this reason, the Apostle writes earlier in the letter, “What then becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith (v. 3:27). And again he writes in Ephesians 2:8, 9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
But what about boasting in our deeds after our salvation? Of this Apostle writes in following verse–Ephesians 2:10, “For we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. God’s Providential hand, as we said before, encompasses all spheres of existence, even the salvation of sinners and the works of saints. Therefore, we who understand and believe this truth should be the humblest of people.
2. Take Comfort
The chief objective of Romans 8:28 in its context is to give comfort to saints who are suffering. Indeed, we should take great comfort knowing that the loving hand of God is directing every event in our lives in such a way that it ends with our greatest good. As the Apostle so excellently writes:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).
Regardless of the trials that come our way, the enemies that seek our death, or the demons who plot our fall, we can take comfort knowing that the love of Christ has conquered all these things and that lets us partake in their conquering.
3. Be Bold in Life
Because of these things, we should live bold lives. We should love Christ boldly, we should love each other boldly, and we should love the world boldly. We should pursue our holiness boldly, and we should pursue the holiness of the church boldly. We should sacrifice our lives boldly, and we should give boldly. We should do all these things boldly knowing that no obstacle or persecution comes our way apart from the benevolent ordinance of God and that in all things we are more than conquerors through the power and love of Christ Jesus.