Q. How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?
A. We can be patient when things go against us(1), thankful when things go well (2), and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing in creation will separate us from his love (3). For all creatures are so completely in God’s hand that without his will they can neither move nor be moved (4).
Read: (1) Job 1:21-22; James 1:3; (2) Deut. 8:10; 1 Thess. 5:18; (3) Ps. 55:22; Rom. 5:3-5; 8:38-39; (4) Job 1:12; 2:6; Prov. 21:1; Acts 17:24-28.
How many times have you heard said: “Oh, I was just lucky?”. Or “well, it pays off to be hardworking”. As humble Christians, we may not say it but we definitely think it. We say to ourselves, “I deserve this or that because I worked hard for it”. Or “uuggghhh look at her, how does she expect to get that when she doesn’t put all of her effort?” We feel like life is a series of logical consequences to a bunch of actions. If we do this, we get that. And although generally speaking this is true and God allows us to operate in this manner, we forget that our success, our achievements and our reached goals all belong to God and His glory alone. Last blog we studied the doctrine of providence and how it affects our trials and tribulations, but should God’s providence also affect our success? Let’s answer this question as we study q28 of The Heidelberg Catechism.
Providence, as we saw, simply means that God, who created everything is involved in every aspect of His creation. Many Bible verses tells us this. “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26): “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Daniel 4:35); “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 10:29); “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Prov. 16:9), etc. Nothing that happens in the world nor in our lives surprises God. He sees everything and remains in control of everything. And yet, when we get what we want and our lives are going well, our pride swells and we think that it all happened because we achieved it. Me. My work. My brain. My beauty. My relationships. My hard work. I did it all! Forgetting the providence of God. So then, if we understand that God is in control of everything, how should we live? By walking in Christ’s freedom. Understanding the providence of God allows us to to stay in Christ’s freedom without going to the extremes.
God’s providence does not absolve us from our human responsibility. He is fully in control but we remain responsible for our actions. Our actions have consequences. God being Almighty, sovereign and fully in. control takes into account our freedom and actions and use them to fulfill His ultimate purpose and good will. With this in mind, we are able to understand that our daily life happens because God is working in you and through you. We go to work and work hard because God lives in us. We take care of our body because God is working in and through us. We study hard because God empowers us. And in His good will, we get a promotion, we get stronger, we graduate with honors. He gives us the will, and the health and the means and in that way God is the one that is to honor and to be glorified, even though you worked hard within the circumstances God provided. He is sovereign but you remain responsible for your actions. Understanding this concept is extremely important for us because the mentality of “I do and I get” many times infiltrate how we think and how we act in regards to our salvation.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13). We are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. We do not do good and then get saved. We are saved by grace, through faith in Christ alone. Yet we obey. Not because our obedience will give us salvation but because our salvation gives us obedience. It is God who saved us by His grace and for His glory alone and He has granted us freedom in Christ. As saved women, it is God who works in and through me. He empowers my obedience but I work out my salvation with fear and trembling. All of God’s grace, all of my effort.
Now, when we think that every single outcome in our lives comes as a consequence of my actions, we steal God’s glory and fall into legalism. Your Christian walk, your working hard, your reaching goals is not all up to you. You do it from a place of response to God’s grace. You obey as a natural progression of your salvation. If, on the other hand, you think your actions do not matter at all and God’s got it all, you will fall into licentiousness. God gave you choices, you have responsibility. You can’t just be lazy and lenient and sit down and do nothing or believe that what you do does not matter. Your obedience and hard work matter to reach certain outcomes dictated by God’s providence. Your obedience matters and is a byproduct or a fruit of your salvation. Understanding God’s providence allows us to have peace and comfort in our trials and give God all the glory in our successes. God’s providence keeps us in the straight and narrow.
So dear sister, now that we have completed studying the providence of God in our success I want to ask you: Do you strive to do good so that God may be pleased in you and save you or love you more? Or do you live a life of laziness and mediocrity because you think that now that you are saved your actions don’t matter? And if you fall to believe either extreme, would you pray for God to guide you to live in the freedom of Christ?
By faith. #enthralledbygrace