Divine providence is that activity of God whereby He uninterruptedly upholds (preserves), governs, and directs lifeless creation (Jb 9:56; 28:2526; Ps 89:9; 148:8), plant life (Ps 104:1314; 147:9), animal life (Ps 145:15; Jon 4:11), the world of men (Ps 139:13, 1516; Jer. 1:5; Mt 4:4; 5:45; 6:2628; 18:14; Acts 17:2428) and all that concerns men (Ps 31:15; 91:1, 3; 121; Pr 20:24; 21:1; Lk 12:7), heaven, hell, everything (Lk 12:67; Cl 1:1617; Heb 1:13).
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 69:911; 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 1:1832). 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 50:1621).
From the viewpoint of God all is predetermined and immutably fixed (Jb 14:5; Acts 4:2728); 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 38:15).
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), 78111; E. W. Hinrichs, God's Direction in Our Lives and the Element of Chance, CTM, XVII (1946), 425439.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission
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