Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Not By Chance, Chapter 4: The Preserving Providence of God Over Creation

Once again, here is Talbert's definition of Preserving Providence:

God continuously preserves and maintains the existence of every part of His creation, from the smallest to the greatest, according to His sovereign pleasure.

Over what areas of creation does the Bible teach that God's preserving providence is in control? As it turns out, pretty much everything:

1. He sustains the existence of every angelic being (Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 104:4; Colossians 1:16-17).

2. God's preserving providence keeps the cosmos, planets, and starts in their appointed courses (Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22, 26; 48:13).

3. The conservation of all natural processes within the physical world is the direct effect of the preserving providence of God (Psalm 65:9-13; 104:5-13; 147:8, 15-18; Jeremiah 5:24; Matthew 5:45; Acts 14:17). An excellent illustration of this property is the large number of times in Scripture that we are told God directly influenced or changed the weather.

As an aside, the First Law of Thermodynamics tells us that energy is neither created or destroyed. God created the energy in the first place, and still sustains it.

4. The maintenance of all plant and animal life is the direct effect of the preserving providence of God (Psalm 36:6; 104:14-30; 147:9; Nehemiah 9:6; Matthew 6:26; 10:29; Luke 12:6). Who gave the animals their innate behavior skills and intelligence?

5. The preservation of the life and health of every person is also the direct effect of the preserving providence of God (Psalm 36:6; 66:9; Matthew 10:30; Luke 12:7).

Talbert also reminds us of several great hymns whose lyrics speak of God's providence. One example, by Isaac Watts, is this stanza from I Sing the Mighty Power of God:
There's not a plant or flower below
But makes thy glories known,
And clouds arise and tempests blow
By order from thy throne;
While all that borrows life from thee
Is ever in Thy care,
And everywhere that man can be
Thou, God, art present there.
Three key Bible passages on God's providence over creation were also shared.

1. Psalm 104. This psalm, cited several times already, speaks poetically about the very real continuing activities God has in His creation. It is definitely worthwhile for us to read in this study. Do we truly believe this? Have we "outgrown" it? Remember that if we do not have simple faith in God, where will we put our faith and obedience?

2. Colossians 1:16-17. The key phrase here is the final one:

16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

The definition of the Greek word translated "consist" here means "to stand together, hold together, cohere." It is not an exaggeration to state that Jesus Christ [the subject of this passage] literally holds together the entire universe!

3. Hebrews 1:3.
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
The key words are all common Greek words meaning...
Uphold: To carry, bear (this is a present, active verb)
All things: All. As in, everything
By the word: The word is used even more clearly in Hebrews 11:3, where it is stated that "the worlds were framed by the word of God." We must remember that not only did God create everything by speaking it into existence, He upholds and sustains it in that way, too.
Of His power: The word in Greek is dunamis, from which we get such English words as dynamite and dynamo. It is also translated "power" in Matt. 6:13 and Acts 1:8.

And as with every other lesson, we are asked to look at ourselves. The key question here is "What are some biblical responses to God's preserving providence?" Some answers:

1. Now is the day of salvation! (II Cor. 6:2)

2. Remember that you do not know what a day will bring forth (Prov. 27:1)

3. Remember that your life is nothing more than a vapor (James 4:14)

4. What you do, do it with your might (Eccl. 9:10)

5. Bless the Lord! (Ps. 66:8-9)

6. Sing and glorify the Lord (Ps. 104:33)

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For Previous Chapters:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

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