First, let’s start with a definition of Providence taken from a highly readable and much recommended book by Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology.  

God is continually involved with all created things in such a way that he (1) keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them; (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; and (3) directs them to fulfill his purposes.

Second, let’s lay out the Biblical texts.  I will just list them and you can decide whether or not to study them further.  

  • Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Christ is “upholding the universe by his word of power.”
  • In Colossians 1:17, Paul says of Christ that “in him all things hold together.”
  • The teaching of providence is also affirmed by Paul when he says, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28)
  • And by Ezra: “You are the LORD, you alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them… (Neh. 9:6).
  • Peter also says that “the heavens and earth that now exist” are “being kept until the day of judgment” (2 Peter 3:7).
  • Elihu in his wisdom says of God, “If he should take back his spirit to himself, and gather to himself his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust” (Job 34:14–15; cf. Ps. 104:29).
  • In Ephesians 1:11 Paul says that God “accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will.”

Third, God’s providence extends to everything within the universe.  Here are a few categories to consider.  

  • The directing and leading of inanimate objects like rain and constellations: Psalm 148:8; Job 37:6-13; 38:22-30; Psalm 135:6-7; 104:14; Job 38:32; Matt. 5:45
  • The feeding and care of animals: Psalm 104:27-29; Job 38:39-41; Matt. 6:26
  • The directing of seemingly random events.  Proverbs 16:33
  • The affairs of nations.  Job 12:23; Ps. 22:28; Acts 17:26; Dan. 4:34-35
  • All aspects of our lives.  Matt 6:11; Phil 4:19; Psalm 139:16; Job 14:5; Gal 1:15; Jer. 1:5; Jer. 10:23; Prov 20:24; 16:1, 9; Psalm 75:6-7; Luke 1:52; Ps. 127:3; 1 Cor. 4:7; Ps. 18:34; Prov 21:1; Ezr. 1:1; 6:22; Ps. 33:14-15; Phil. 2:13

And finally some objections

  • But, aren’t some of these events such as rain caused by natural causes?  We can, of course, give scientific or naturalistic explanations for grass growing and rain falling.  But the Scriptures, as we have seen, say that God “causes” them.  Therefore, if we hold scripture to be authoritative we learn that it is incorrect for us to reason that if there is a natural cause there cannot then be a supernatural cause.  There can be both.  Scripture teaches both.
  • But, what about our freedom and responsibility to choose?  Remember, Scripture does not teach a dichotomy between natural and supernatural causes.  Scripture does not teach that if condensation causes rain, then God does not.  That deduction is simply a product of human extrapolation.  In the same manner, Scripture does not place at odds God’s providential direction of our lives and man’s responsibility to choose and act.  “Behind the scenes” causes should not lead us to deny the reality of our choices and actions.  Scripture affirms time and time again that we really do make real consequential choices.

There is of course more to say but perhaps this will get you started on your path to understanding and appreciating the doctrine of the providence of God.    


Pastor Brandon