HC Question 27 — God’s Providence

Question 27: What dost thou mean by the providence of God?

Answer: The almighty and everywhere present power of God;1 whereby, as it were by His hand, He upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures;2 so that herbs and grass, rain and drought,3 fruitful and barren years, meat and drink,4 health and sickness,5 riches and poverty,6 yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.7

In Question 27 we are still dealing with the work of the Father confessed in the Apostles Creed. We now have moved from the creation work of God the Father Almighty to His ongoing work of sustaining (upholding) and governing His creation. The word the Catechizers use for God’s continuous work of upholding (sustaining) and governing His creation is “providence.”

This idea of providence was once central to the ways Christian’s spoke. If you listen carefully, the way we currently speak lacks this idea of providence. Instead, you will hear the idea of “luck” falling out of people’s mouths. And while we don’t want to be too exacting when we deal with people, it simply is the case that “luck” in our thinking has often replaced the idea of God’s total and overweening providence. This is to be expected from a people who have lost awareness of living in God’s presence. “Luck” bespeaks mindless chance, whereas “providence” reminds us that all things happen by God’s almighty and everywhere present power. We live in a world that pulses with God’s providential control exercised as by His upholding and governing all things.

Heb. 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 reality of God’s providence reminds us we do not live in a world upheld and governed by dark chaos and old night. The world and the events of the world do not unfold randomly or haphazardly but unfold as ordered by God the Father’s everywhere present power. This providence of God reminds us that God is always present — always present as a Father to His people and always present as an exacting judge to the reprobate. God the Father Almighty is never in need of anything from His creatures and is the one who;

giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring.

Acts 17:25–28

Were humans wise they would, upon learning this, fall on their faces to worship He who upholds and governs all things.

The fact that God the Father Almighty upholds and governs all things reminds us that God is not absent from the world He has created. God is present and is not silent. His presence is attested to by all that happens. The idea that God upholds all things communicates the truth that the continuance of the cosmos and everything in it is dependent upon God the Father Almighty. The idea that God governs all things communicates the truth that this continuing cosmos is ordered and ruled by the God whose power and person is always and everywhere present.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in [c]hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall [d]fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness [e]shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

Psalm 139

Whereas before we have been considering God’s Almightiness (Omnipotence) here it is God’s omnipresence (everywhere present at all times) that is emphasized.

As Question 27 ends we return to the matter of God’s everywhere present power with a litany of examples explaining the exhaustiveness of God’s upholding and governing. It is God’s the Father’s almighty upholding and governing hand that accounts for;

herbs and grass, rain and drought,3 fruitful and barren years, meat and drink,4 health and sickness,5 riches and poverty,6 yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.7

We should not miss here that the Catechizer’s insist everything — both what we call blessing and what we call tragedy — come to us ordered by God’s sustaining and upholding. This life for the Christian is ordered by a personal God whose sovereignty is total and complete.

This is a truth that is required to be embraced by faith. For example, it is only faith in God’s goodness and providence that carried and carries me through having a much loved grand-daughter who was born broken and damaged with severe cerebral palsy. Can I receive even this as coming from the hand of God the Father Almighty who upholds and governs all things by His mighty hand or shall I begin to conclude that somehow God was absent from such a sorrow filled reality? If God is absent from the bumps and bruises of life then when those times come where is the Christian to turn? To the fates? To the idea that somehow Satan overcame God? To some kind of idea that teaches, “well, God didn’t want this but, you know, sometimes God is sovereign enough to not be sovereign.” Away with all such foolishness. If God is God then away with ideas of “bad luck,” or “chance” or anything else. If God is God let us praise His name by kissing the Shepherd’s staff when in His wisdom He wields it upon us. If God’s providence is not true in just this kind of manner then I have no interest in worshiping God. All things are from the Lord God omnipotent. And while I may struggle with some of those realities (a broken grand-daughter for example) at the end of the day I must join with my Father Job and say;

Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”

Other faith traditions (Arminianism) who seek to lessen God’s sovereignty don’t solve the problem of evil. Instead what they give you is the reality of the evil as combined by a God who can’t do anything about it. One ends up with not only the evil but also a severely diminished God hardly worth worshiping.

When God chooses to send to His people drought, barren years, sickness, and poverty, God’s people must be equipped in knowing that God is good and that this good God has sufficient reasons yet unknown and undeclared to us as to His purposes for the drought, barren years, sickness, and poverty that are providentially sent and ordered for our lives. We must remember that our good God will “will make whatever evils He sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage.”

The Scriptures that explicitly teach that God the Father Almighty, in His work of providence, does indeed governs all that comes into our lives is taught explicitly in Scripture;

A.) God’s providence and rain

3Jer. 5:24, Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in His season: He reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.

4Acts 14:17, Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

B.) God’s Providence and sickness and health;

5John 9:3, Jesus answered, Neither hath this (blind) man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

C.) God’s providence in wealth and poverty;

6Prov. 22:2, The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.

Job 1:21, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

D.) There is no such thing as chance. God providentially ordains all;

7Matt. 10:29–30, Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Eph. 1:11, In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.

Christians have a choice. They can either worship the God of the Bible who by His providence upholds and governs all things and so be realistic about the word “sovereignty” or they can worship a god of their own imagination.


One final word here. When it comes to God’s providence we insist that though we affirm God’s providence we admit that we don’t always know what God is doing in His providence. There is, within some expressions of Christianity, a knee-jerk pseudo-prophetic inclination for people to think they can always interpret God’s providence. Some people are inclined to think they can file through God’s filing cabinets are hard drives and be able to tell you why a hardship comes into your life. While, it is certainly true that there are times when we may be able to trace out the lineaments of what God is doing in His providence, we need to be careful about falling into a “this is that” mentality. It simply is the case that we often do not know why God is doing or has done what He is doing or has done. For example, I will never know, in this life with certainty, why God wounded my Grand-daughter Ella. Similarly, there are many things that will come into our lives that we will have to wait till the eschaton arrives in order to understand. Be wary of people who think they can tell you what every piece of God’s providence in our life means. They can be well intended and fruit-cakes at the same time.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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