A few thoughts on Providence, responsibility, and the Christian life.
I. Providence & Fatalism
a. Providence is not Fatalism
b. The Immanence of God distinguishes Providence from Fatalism
- Providence = a relational God who loves us and will hold us responsible for our response
- Fatalism = indiscriminate fate and our response is futile
c. The fact that God uses (ordains) “means” to accomplish “ends” distinguishes Providence from fatalism.
- Providence is not normally God suspending the laws of nature to make something happen. The overwhelming majority of the time God accomplishes His intended outcome through the preservation of those laws.
- ILL: If God ordains that you NOT be shocked then He almost always ordains that you not stick a fork in an electrical socket.
II. Providence & Prayer
a. Providence and prayer are not mutually exclusive
b. God has ordained to accomplish some things through the means of prayer.
- ILL: Gen 18:20-23, 19:29
- ILL: Ultimately God saved you, but He probably used the means of the preached word (Rom 10:13-17). In the same way, God uses our prayers to accomplish His purpose
c. If God ordains something that we do not pray for He will still accomplish His purpose.
- God’s plan won’t be foiled, but our opportunity to be a part of God’s work will be lost.
- Prayer allows us to be a part of what God is doing in redemptive history (James 4:16b).
III. Providence & Prudence
a. Providence and prudence are not mutually exclusive
b. Through God’s revealed will He has made it clear that the prudence of His people is the primary means by which He accomplishes certain purposes.
- Prudence= “to use all legitimate, biblical means at our disposal to avoid harm to ourselves or others and to bring about what we believe to be the right course of events.” (Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, 114).
- ILL: Acts 27:22-26, 31
c. Sometimes Providence “overrules” prudence, just like a miracle “overrules” the natural laws, but this does not mean that prudence isn’t important.
- Sometimes the “sluggard” eats well, while the diligent or are humbled. (Ecc 2:21)
- Even in these instances God holds us responsible for our “prudence” (or faithfulness).
IV. Providence & Responsibility
a. The fact that God is providentially in control using our prayers and our prudence to accomplish His will makes our important.
b. We are responsible to TRUST in God’s revealed will by Prudently obeying what He has commanded.
c. We are responsible to TRUST in God’s sovereign will by Prayerfully responding to His providence.
The Apostle Paul perfectly summarizes what this looks like practically in Philippians 4:4–7:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.