How do we know when our interpretation of the Bible is correct? Derek Thomas preached on this very subject during a Ligonier National Conference in 2010. You will find this sermon helpful.
R.C. Sproul on God’s “Being” and Apologetics – In this excerpt from his teaching series, “Moses and the Burning Bush,” R.C. Sproul explains God’s “being” and how an understanding of this truth can be used in apologetics.
A High View of the Holy Spirit – You will find this video from The Master’s Seminary helpful on this important doctrinal subject.
A Converation with Phil Ryken about the Darkest Period of His Life: “I Started to Wonder How I Would End It All” – Justin Taylor sat down with Phil Ryken recently to discuss a very dark moment in his life.
No Free Passes – Rosaria Butterfield was interviewed by WORLD about her controversial biography.
Ligonier Reformation Tour – Join Ligonier for a historic Reformation study tour and cruise next year.
Theology Word of the Week: Providence
Providence. The idea of providence is implicit in any notion of God as the supreme being. An adequate definition of the idea of God requires his overlordship of the history of all that is. But the Christian doctrine of the providence of God rests not upon such metaphysical speculation, but on the teaching of the Bible.
Providence is the beneficent outworking of God’s sovereignty whereby all events are directed and disposed to bring about those purposes of glory and good for which the universe was made. These events include the actions of free agents, which while remaining free, personal and responsible are also the intended actions of those agents. Providence thus encompasses both natural and personal events, setting them alike within the purposes of God.
Providence has been carefully distinguished from creation. The upholding and directing of all things is understood in Scripture to be subsequent to, and distinct from, their having been made. The distinction is partly sequential: first God created, then he sustained and directed. But it also has moral significance, since Christian theodicy has emphasized the goodness of the original creation (Gn. 1) and recognized the radical transformation which that creation underwent with the fall. The providence of God is largely concerned with the history of a fallen order, and the confounding of this with creation would immediately attribute sin to the creative goodness of God. While it can be argued that theistic evolutionism is compatible with the doctrines of creation and providence, any theory which is unable to preserve the distinction between the two is untenable.
The doctrine of providence provides a bulwark against three major errors.
1. Deism. The deists conceived of God as detached from the present workings of the universe, since he had created it and then left it to operate like a machine. Providence asserts the personal involvement of God in every turn of human affairs, and his constant upholding of all natural process. Natural law therefore represents merely the constancy and regularity of the divine purposes. The natural order no less than the human expresses God’s personal control.
2. Fatalism. This pagan notion is regaining wide currency through popular astrology. While providence personalizes nature, fatalism de-personalizes man. His free actions are free no longer, since the horoscope’s predictions (unlike the prophet’s) make no allowance for personal response. Providence never denies free personal agency, though it asserts a higher order of purpose alongside it.
3. Chance. Providence asserts the directional and purposeful character of history, and so provides hope to a fallen world. God’s hand, as Calvin says, is at the helm. It is customary to speak of providence as general and special (this latter when directed to a specific beneficent end), but too much should not, perhaps, be made of the distinction. Scripture speaks of a particular divine concern for the ephemera of nature (e.g. the sparrows of Mt. 10:29–30). Miracle is a special case of providence, when the normal ordering of natural affairs is set aside for a particular purpose.
The providence of God displays his benevolence (Mt. 5:45), especially to the believer, who is comforted to be told that all things work together for his good (Rom. 8:28). It is therefore in this doctrine that the sovereign character of God becomes the ground of practical hope and comfort to all who trust him.
- Sinclair B. Ferguson and J.I. Packer, New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 542.