What is Providence?


The Bible teaches that God has created the universe, He is preserving the universe, and He sovereignly controls the universe.  The out working of this sovereign control is referred to as God’s providence.  In other words, providence is the outworking of sovereignty in the same way that lifting something heavy is the outworking of being really strong.

Wayne Grudem defines providence as follows:

God is continually involved with all created things in such a way that he (1) keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them; (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; and (3) directs them to fulfill his purposes.

In other words, providence includes 1) preservation, 2) concurrence, and 3) governance.


In addition to answering questions about the beginning of the world, the Bible also tells us how the world continues to be held together.

Colossians 1:16-17:  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

This idea of God upholding all of His creation is known as the doctrine of Preservation.  In other words, God sovereignly and continuously maintains everything that He has made.

Hebrews 1:3:  And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.


God accomplishes His purpose through His created things.

Ps 135:6-7: Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

From man’s perspective events may appear to be random or explained by natural causes. However, God is at work in these events.

Prov 16:33: The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is wholly from the LORD.

God’s concurrence applies to human beings as well.  God “moves” men in such a way that He is on control, but their inclinations are not overridden.

Romans 9:17: For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”


Preservation and concurrence both speak the means that God uses in accomplishing His purpose.  Governance speaks to the purpose.  God sovereignly direct all things to accomplish His purpose.

Ephesians 1:11: In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.