Christian Cyclopedia

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Divine providence is that activity of God whereby He uninterruptedly upholds (preserves), governs, and directs lifeless creation (Jb 9:5–6; 28:25–26; Ps 89:9; 148:8), plant life (Ps 104:13–14; 147:9), animal life (Ps 145:15; Jon 4:11), the world of men (Ps 139:13, 15–16; Jer. 1:5; Mt 4:4; 5:45; 6:26–28; 18:14; Acts 17:24–28) and all that concerns men (Ps 31:15; 91:1, 3; 121; Pr 20:24; 21:1; Lk 12:7), heaven, hell, everything (Lk 12:6–7; Cl 1:16–17; Heb 1:1–3).

Divine providence normally expresses itself in definite laws (Gn 8:22) that represent inner urges and drives implanted by God in His creatures. These laws proclaim the benignity of the Creator (Acts 14:17).

Divine providence is ordinarily exercised through secondary causes; but these are operative only so long as God works through them. Scripture teaches that both God and the means are operative (Ps 69:9–11; 127:1; Is 55:10; 1 Co 12:6); this cannot be completely explained by the human mind.

Divine providence deprives men neither of their liberty nor of their responsibility; it neither reduces men to automata nor makes God responsible for sin (Ro 1:18–32). God is operative in men and acts through men also when their deeds are evil (2 Sm 16:10; 24:1; Acts 17:28), but He is not the author of sin (Ps 50:16–21).

From the viewpoint of God all is predetermined and immutably fixed (Jb 14:5; Acts 4:27–28); from the human viewpoint things happen contingently, events can be modified and depend on circumstances and decisions that men make and for which they are responsible (Ps 55:23; Is 38:1–5).

Ultimate goals of divine providence: (1) the temporal and eternal welfare of man, esp. the salvation of the elect; (2) the spreading of the Gospel; (3) the promotion of the glory of God (Ro 11:36).

P. F. Bente, “The Providence of God,” The Abiding Word, II, ed. T. Laetsch (St. Louis, 1947), 78–111; E. W. Hinrichs, “God's Direction in Our Lives and the Element of Chance,” CTM, XVII (1946), 425–439.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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