The Providence of God -- By: Samuel A. Owen

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 04:2 (Spring 1995)
Article: The Providence of God
Author: Samuel A. Owen


The Providence of God

Samuel A. Owen

Providence, from pro and video, literally means foresight, and then a careful arrangement prepared beforehand for the accomplishment of a predetermined end. 1 Generally, when we speak of God’s providence we are speaking of His activity in all that happens in the world, preserving and guiding all things toward the goal which He has for them.

In any complete discussion of this issue, many other truths of Scripture must be brought to bear, most of which relate to the doctrine of God Himself. It begins with His sovereignty (His supremacy, His kingship, His Godhood); that He is the Most High, the Almighty, the “only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). But the providence of God is not related only to a discussion of His sovereignty. Stephen Charnock, in his classic study of God, does not have a separate section on providence. Rather, he discusses it in each of his sections dealing with God’s power, immutability, omnipresence, knowledge, goodness, and wisdom. He says that to deny God’s providence is to deny each of these attributes as well, and vice versa. For example, he says, “The goodness of God is condemned by a distrust of His providence. As all trust in Him supposeth Him good, so all distrust of Him supposeth Him evil; either without goodness to exert His power, or without power to display His goodness.” 2

Our discussion of the providence of God here must needs be more limited in scope. We shall therefore attempt to define it succinctly, note its extent (especially as it relates to the people of God) and its mystery, and show its effect in the life of one who truly believes it.

The Providence of God—A Definition

God’s actual providence is “the effectual working of His power, and almighty act of His will, whereby He sustains, governs, and disposes of all things, men and their actions, to the ends which He has ordained for them,” 3 unto the praise of the glory of His grace.

Consider the components of this definition. (1) God’s providence is the effectual working of His power and will unto His desired ends. God has a plan for His creation. In His providence He effectually carries out that plan; it is characterized by adequate power to produce the intended effect (Eph. 1:11; Isa. 45:5–7; John 5:17). (2)...

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