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Sunday, June 16, 2024 - 02:06 AM

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

First Published in 1994

INDEPENDENT CONSERVATIVE VOICE OF
UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA

Understanding the Firm Hand of God’s Love

Understanding the Firm Hand of Gods Love

“How Great Thou Art”

Stories of God’s Providence fill both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. The Christian Doctrine of Providence has given much comfort and encouragement to God’s people and is closely connected to the Doctrine of God’s absolute Sovereignty over all creation.  Christian author, speaker, and leader Jerry Bridges (1929-2016) defined the basic nature of God’s Providence, however, in a simple but beautiful and powerful sentence:

“God’ Providence is His constant care for and His absolute rule over all creation for His own glory and the good of his people.”

Bridges, a senior leader of the Navigators Christian Discipleship Ministry for many years, also gave a two-sentence description of the awesome comprehensiveness of God’s Providence:

“Nothing is too large or small to escape God’s governing hand. The spider building its web in the corner and Napoleon marching his army across Europe are both under God’s control.”

Sometime during my undergraduate days at the University of Georgia, where I was also enrolled in Air Force ROTC, I saw a 1957 Jimmy Stewart movie, The Spirit of St. Louis,  about Charles Lindbergh’s pioneer Trans-Atlantic 33.5 hour, 3,600 mile flight from New York City to Paris in 1927. Lindbergh was awarded the first Distinguished Flying Cross and the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic accomplishment. In that movie, a pastor quoted a Scripture passage illustrating the enormous implications and personal comfort of the Doctrine of God’s Providence.

Matthew 10: 29-31:  “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your father.  And even the very hairs of your head are numbered.  So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Not even a single sparrow can fall to the ground without God’s knowledge or outside of His Will!  As an Air Force intelligence officer and aviator during the Vietnam War, this verse was always one of my favorites, especially in seasons of danger. But God’s Providence is by no means just about dangerous times. All God’s blessings to us are part of the God’s gracious and merciful Providence.  

These verses of Matthew 10 about a falling sparrow later had a special personal meaning and significance to me. On February 22, 1967, I had to bail-out of a burning A-26 attack-bomber at night and just 700 feet off the ground. In that kind of situation, you pray, and knowing that God knew me and of my desperate situation  was an immense comfort to me.  

Margaret Clarkson, 82, an art teacher in Rotherham, Yorkshire, England, best explains the interaction of God’s constant care and the threat of evil:  

“The circumstances surrounding our lives are no accident; they may be the work of evil, but that evil is held firmly within the mighty hand of our sovereign God…All evil is subject to Him, and evil cannot touch His children unless He permits it.”

The Story of Joseph in Genesis takes up a larger part of Genesis than any other story, and God’s Providence is seen throughout. Joseph is wronged by his brothers and left for dead. By God’s Providence, he became a slave to Potipher, one of the most important military officials in Egypt. Joseph is falsely accused of attempted rape of Potipher’s wife and is thrown in prison. But he becomes a model prisoner respected by other prisoners there. He interprets dreams that come to pass just as interpreted. This ability eventually came to the attention of Pharoh, who was troubled by a dream. Joseph interpreted Pharoh’s dream, which resulted in economic actions mitigating and avoiding famine and greatly prospering Egypt. Consequently, Pharoh made Joseph second in authority in all of Egypt. During this regional famine, Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt for grain, but rather than taking revenge on them, he forgave them and was generous to them. Joseph explains the workings of Divine Providence to them in Genesis 50:20:

 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”

Let’s look at some other verses and quotes to help us understand God’s  amazing Divine Providence.

Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

“When God ordains anything to come to pass, His purpose in doing so is altogether and absolutely good.”—R. C. Sproul

“The providence of God is more often than not invested in the events which were by you considered unexpected or unimportant.”—Stephen Brown

“God knows the way that you take; you don’t know His.”—Elizabeth Elliot

“The world little dreams the things that are wrought by prayer.”—Alfred, Lord Tennyson

“If we would avoid  a senseless natural philosophy we must always start with this principle: that everything in nature depends upon the will of God, and that the whole course of nature is only the prompt carrying into effect of His orders…There is no such thing as fortune or chance.’—John Calvin

“In his directive oversight, God normally uses the means of secondary causes and effects.  However, he is free to work without, above, and against them as it pleases him.”—Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 5.1, 1646

“There are ultimately no loose ends in God’s world.—D. A. Carson

“The nature of God’s divine goodness is not only to open to those who knock, but also to cause them to knock and ask.”—Augustine

“When God intends great mercy for His people, the first thing He does is set them a-praying.”—Matthew Henry

“Man falls according as God’s providence ordains, but he falls by his own fault.”—John Calvin

“The Bible teaches both the sovereignty of God and the free moral choice of men with equal emphasis. It is impossible for us to reject either of these great truths, and it is equally impossible for our minds to reconcile them.”—Jerry Bridges

“The framers of the Westminster Confession of Faith said even though we believe in sovereign Providence which governs all things and ordains whatsoever comes to pass, nevertheless, that sovereign providential government is not exercised in such a way as to destroy what we call human freedom and human volition, but so that human choices and actions are a part of the overall providential scheme of things.  God brings His will to pass by the free decisions of His moral agents. The fact that my free decisions fit into this over-arching plan in no way lessens the reality of that freedom.”—R. C. Sproul

“How full of consolation is the doctrine, that infinite wisdom directs every event, brings order out of confusion, and light out of darkness, and, to those who love God, causes all things, whatever be their present aspect and apparent tendency, to work together for good.”—J. L. Dagg

“The truth is this:  The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged.  It is history that teaches us to hope.”—Robert E. Lee, near the end of his life.

Here are some verses and quotes about the absolute Sovereignty of God, which is closely related to Divine Providence:

“God is the cause of causes.”—Christopher Nesse

Daniel 4:35: “He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to him, “What have you done?”

Matthew 28:18: “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Job 42:2: “I know you can do all things ; no plan of yours can be thwarted.”

Jeremiah 32:17: “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”

Isaiah 14:24: “The Lord Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely as I have planned, so will it be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.

Proverbs 16:33: The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord

“To be God and sovereign are inseparable.”—Stephen Charnock.

Isaiah 40: 21-23: Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,  and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.”

“God’s Providence is the unceasing activity of the Creator whereby, in overflowing bounty and goodwill, He upholds His creatures in ordered existence, guides, and governs all events, circumstances, and free acts of angels and men, and directs everything to its appointed goal, for His own glory.”—J. I. Packer

“Happy is the man who sees God employed in all the good and ill that checkers life”—William Cowper.

“The Rule of God is the gladness of his people.”—G. C. Berkouwer

“O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!”

—Carl Boberg, Swedish poet, preacher,  writer, and Member of Riksdag (1859-1940)

 

Mike ScruggsMike Scruggs is the author of two books: The Un-Civil War: Shattering the Historical Myths; and Lessons from the Vietnam War: Truths the Media Never Told You, and over 600 articles on military history, national security, intelligent design, genealogical genetics, immigration, current political affairs, Islam, and the Middle East.

He holds a BS degree from the University of Georgia and an MBA from Stanford University. A former USAF intelligence officer and Air Commando, he is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and Air Medal. He is a retired First Vice President for a major national financial services firm and former Chairman of the Board of a classical Christian school.

Click the website below to order books. http://www.universalmediainc.org/books.htm.