Providence (Olevianus)

Question:  Construct for me the whole doctrine of God’s providence in its main parts.

Answer:

The whole doctrine of the providence of God consists of five main parts. First, a faithful servant of God should be absolutely convinced inside that all things happen by God’s decree and not by chance or by good luck or bad luck.

OlevianusTherefore, in all things one should fasten the eyes of one’s heart directly upon God, with whom he has a covenant, and look upon Him as the original source and cause of everything.

The Scriptures testify to this when Joseph says in Genesis 45:8, “It was not you who sold me into the land of Egypt . . . but I was sent before you by the will of God to preserve your lives.” Job, too, did not brood about the Chaldeans who had robbed him of his goods; he said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21) Note also Exodus 21:13: “He did not lie in wait for another, but God delivered him into his hand;” Proverbs 16:33: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord;” Matthew 10:29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. Indeed, even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” See also James 4:13-16

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.  James 4:13-16

Links for other important comments by Olevianus:

Source: makingdisciplesblog.com

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There Is No Such Thing As Chance

Excerpt from the Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book I, Chapter 16, Section 2, by John Calvin.

Calvin_4That this distinction may be the more manifest, we must consider that the Providence of God, as taught in Scripture, is opposed to fortune and fortuitous causes. By an erroneous opinion prevailing in all ages, an opinion almost universally prevailing in our own day, viz., that all things happen fortuitously, the true doctrine of Providence has not only been obscured, but almost buried. If one falls among robbers, or ravenous beasts; if a sudden gust of wind at sea causes shipwreck; if one is struck down by the fall of a house or a tree; if another, when wandering through desert paths, meets with deliverance; or, after being tossed by the waves, arrives in port, and makes some wondrous hair-breadth escape from death – all these occurrences, prosperous as well as adverse, carnal sense will attribute to fortune. But whose has learned from the mouth of Christ that all the hairs of his head are numbered, (Matt 10:30) will look farther for the cause, and hold that all events whatsoever are governed by the secret counsel of God. With regard to inanimate objects again we must hold that though each is possessed of its peculiar properties, yet all of them exert their force only in so far as directed by the immediate hand of God. Hence they are merely instruments, into which God constantly infuses what energy he sees meet, and turns and converts to any purpose at his pleasure.

No created object makes a more wonderful or glorious display than the sun. For, besides illuminating the whole world with its brightness, how admirably does it foster and invigorate all animals by its heat, and fertilise the earth by its rays, warming the seeds of grain in its lap, and thereby calling forth the verdant blade! This it supports, increases, and strengthens with additional nurture, till it rises into the stalk; and still feeds it with perpetual moisture, till it comes into flower; and from flower to fruit, which it continues to ripen till it attains maturity. In like manner, by its warmth trees and vines bud, and put forth first their leaves, then their blossom, then their fruit. And the Lord, that he might claim the entire glory of these things as his own, was pleased that light should exist, and that the earth should be replenished with all kinds of herbs and fruits before he made the sun. No pious man, therefore, will make the sun either the necessary or principal cause of those things which existed before the creation of the sun, but only the instrument which God employs, because he so pleases; though he can lay it aside, and act equally well by himself: Again, when we read, that at the prayer of Joshua the sun was stayed in its course, (Josh. 10: 13) that as a favour to Hezekiah, its shadow receded ten degrees, (2 Kings 20: 11) by these miracles God declared that the sun does not daily rise and set by a blind instinct of nature, but is governed by Him in its course, that he may renew the remembrance of his paternal favour toward us. Nothing is more natural than for spring, in its turns to succeed winter, summer spring, and autumn summer; but in this series the variations are so great and so unequal as to make it very apparent that every single year, month, and day, is regulated by a new and special providence of God.

Source: makingdisciplesblog.com

We Are Not Ruled By Chance

Do things happen by chance in God’s world? In a word, no , there is no such thing as chance, or fate, or good luck, or bad luck.

A faithful servant of God should be absolutely convinced inside that all things happen by God’s decree and not by chance or by good luck or bad luck.

As a Reformed pastor / theologian put it:

the church teaches according to the word of God, that nothing exists, or comes to pass in the whole world, unless by the certain and definite, but nevertheless most free and good counsel of God. Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary On The Heidelberg Catechism.

There are many testimonies from Scripture to support this truth.

The Apostle Paul reminded the Athenians of God’s work in the details of human life:

24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Acts 17:24-28

And Jesus reminds us of God’s concern for sparrows and for the number of hairs on our heads:

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29, 30

We are supposed to draw comfort and encouragement from this teaching.

  1. God cares about sparrows and about the number of hairs on my head
  2. I am more valuable to God than many sparrows.
  3. I should not fear.
  4. I can trust God to provide for my needs.

Jesus also draws our attention to God’s care for wildflowers and wild grass.

25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:25-27

What comfort and encouragement do we see here?

  1. The birds of the air don’t sow, or reap, or gather into barns.
  2. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
  3. You are worth much more than they.
  4. Therefore, don’t worry about life (eat or drink); nor for your body, as to what you will put on.

And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Matthew 6:28-30

What comfort and encouragement do we see here?

  1. Wild lilies don’t work or spin cloth.
  2. But not even Solomon (the richest king on earth in his time) in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
  3. So, if God so clothes the grass of the field (which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace)
  4. Will God not much more clothe me?
  5. I can trust God for clothing, and for whatever else I need for survival.

Finally, Jesus tells us to get our priorities straight:

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Don’t forget the guarantee of all promises: the Son, through whom the lilies, little birds, illnesses, enemies, and everything in heaven and on earth have been created and by the word of His power are upheld (Hebrews 1:3). This Son, who has been appointed heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2), the Father gave to die for you as the guarantee of His love, and He freely, by grace, ordained you to be joint heirs with His Son. How is it then possible for you to be harmed by any created thing, which can neither live nor move without the direct operation of the Son of God?

All created things exist in Him and are ruled by Him, and you are a joint heir with Him. Should it not be impossible, therefore, for created things to do anything but serve you and work together for your good, even when it appears as though most of them oppose you? The Apostle Paul looks to this guarantee in Romans 8:31, 32: “What more shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?”

So be encouraged, brothers and sisters, God has got everything under control. He is working everything out for His glory and for our good.

Source: http://makingdisciplesblog.com/2014/05/04/we-are-not-ruled-by-chance/

Will Believers be Judged for Not Knowing English Historical Theology?

Apparently, Mark Jones believes Lee Irons stands condemned: I am flabbergasted at the cocksure way by which Irons makes these claims. He castigates Piper for several errors, but ends up making a fe…

Source: Will Believers be Judged for Not Knowing English Historical Theology?