Archive for the ‘Providence’ Category

Judgment on Haiti (?)

January 15, 2010

Someone has claimed that Haiti’s disaster is due to the fact that they made a pact with the devil many years ago. The basic idea that they (or some small group of revolutionaries long ago) made a pact with the devil (or some evil spirit) is not necessarily incredible. It’s also not incredible that this is the judgment of God on the nation of Haiti. However, there’s no good reason to pick out that particular sin as the cause of this judgment. Why not pick out Haiti’s particularly loathsome treatment of children (link to report). There are lots of possibilities. It may well be God’s judgment. While calamities like this can be and, in Scripture, frequently are the judgment of God, it may be something else. Recall Job. We should not be quick to judge Haiti, but those in Haiti ought seriously to consider why God brought this, and if they find sin, they ought to repent of it.

– TurretinFan

More Evidence of Creation and Providence

February 24, 2009

There is no lack of evidence that God created and rules all things. In this case, the evidence is a marvellously designed fish, which has a transparent dome on the top of its head, and tube-like eyes that can rotate up to look through the dome to look for prey above the fish (link). I realize that there will still be people who will try to attribute this technological wonder to chance and “natural processes,” but surely one whose eyes have been opened will recognize this as God’s Creation and Providence.


In Praise of Slavery and Piracy

March 17, 2008

Joseph’s brethren famously sold Joseph into slavery:

Genesis 37:28 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.

Later Joseph explained that this was intended as evil by the brothers of Joseph, but was intended by God for good.

Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

It’s not the only time God has used slavery to achieve His ends for the good of a nation.

Around the turn of the 5th century, a man named Maewyn Succat was taken prisoner by Irish raiders: pirates/slavers. God worked in this providence to make of that man a missionary to the Irish nation, leading ultimately to the Christianizing of the island of Ireland.

God’s Providence is mysterious. It is said that Mawyn, or Patrick as he came to be called, believed that his enslavement was a punishment for a particular sin that he had committed. Perhaps, in part, that was true. But in hindsight, God’s greater purpose in the event was to save Irish souls by the voice of a Welsh preacher.

There are still today many Irish souls in need of salvation, and there are no more Irish pirates to import Christian slaves. In some ways, the Irish condition today is more dangeous now than it was then, for there are many lost who call themselves Christians, whereas then there were few if any. Any modern-day Patrick has an enormous challenge, to shed the light of the gospel in place that thinks it knows what Christianity is, and yet is trusting not in Christ alone for salvation, but in some human system.

While much of Ireland, and much of America as well, celebrates the day with drinking large quantities of green beer, perphaps a sober prayer to God for renewed missionaries to the Irish people is in order. Whether they are brought as slaves (which seems doubtful), or however God chooses to send them, let us be eager that God’s flock be gathered unto Him.

May God’s will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,


Response to Hitchens’ Complaint about Human Suffering

February 5, 2008

In the video above, Dr. James White addresses atheist Christopher Hitchens’ complaint that man was suffering for a long time, while God was just watching.

What is the answer?

Hitchens has not addressed Christianity. Christianity asserts that God has had a plan from the very beginning and that nothing comes to pass that is not part of God’s plan, and that is not for the best.

Of course, many things come to pass that are not the “best” for that particular person, but the appropriate worldview is God’s perspective, not that of the individual man.

Christianity is not a form of theofic humanism, in which God plays the role of Santa Claus to a deserving mass of humanity. Instead, Christianity is a God-centred religion in which all that is, is directed to His glory.

May our Creator and Provider be praised!


Dangers in trying to Discern Providence

January 12, 2008

God determines everything that will come to pass. If you pray that your dog will live, and your dog dies, God has answered your prayer in the negative.

Sometimes it is not that cut and dried.

1. Ambiguities as to what Ought to be Done

To take one example, a young person may pray for a long time to find a suitable spouse, but no spouse may appear. This may be God answering in the negative, or simply God encouraging the young person to pray harder! It’s really impossible to determine the answer to that question simply by looking at the results.

Lesson: we should not try to look to Providence alone to determine how we should proceed for the future. If a young person came to me asking for advice about whether to continue the quest for marriage or to give up and remain single, I’d need to know a lot more than, “I’ve been praying about this for a long time now.”

2. Ambiguities as to Bad Things Happening

a. Job’s Friend’s Syndrome
Sometimes God sends bad things into our lives to chastise us for wrongs that we have done, so that we may learn to do what is right. It’s unpleasant at the time, but good for us in the long run (just like corporal discipline of children). When bad things happen, we should seriously consider whether God is disciplining us, and examine our lives for ways to improve.

On the other hand, that is not always the case. So, we should be careful not to be Job’s judgmental friends to others. This is not an excuse to avoid self-examination, this is an admonition to avoid a judgmental spirit. We cannot and should not assume that the twin towers disaster killed the 3,000 least holy people in Manhattan a half decade ago. We cannot and should not assume that their widows and orphans were the most wicked wives and children of the greater NYC region. All have sinned, and unless we repent we will also perish.

b. Satan did it Syndrome
There is a reverse problem to the Job’s friend’s syndrome, which I call the “Satan did it” syndrome. When bad things happen, sometimes it can be persecution from wicked men or even wicked angels. It’s a bit presumptuous to think that the Prince of darkness has personally found time to mess with one’s life (after all, he is not omnipresent, omnipotent, etc.), but nevertheless sometimes the forces of evil stand opposed to us and cause bad things to happen to us.

On the other hand, when something we thought was a good idea doesn’t happen, simply asserting that Satan interfered can lead to a dangerously egotistical mindset. “We tried to plant a church in Boise, ID, but Satan snuffed it out,” the person might say. Maybe it wasn’t Satan! Maybe God simply decided that Boise has enough of a witness, and God was closing the door there. Blaming Satan, you see, is often simply a way of reinforcing one’s notion that one knows best.

Such a person will have trouble learning from God’s corrections. If they lose their health, they simply say that Satan is messing with them. If they lose their money, it’s Satan trying to stop them. If their car breaks down on the way to some activity, it is proof how good that activity was to which they were headed!

And it’s doubly foolish. First of all, it can result in blasphemously attributing the chastisements of God to Satanic interference. But on top of that, God can use Satan to chastise God’s people. Job’s losses were not primarily discipline for Job, but Job was not sinless. Job was a god-fearing man, but he was not perfect. Read to the end of the book of Job and you’ll see.

But Job is not even the best example here. Recall:

1 Timothy 1:20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

You see, God can strike a straight blow with a crooked stick. Even though Satan did not afflict Jim and Alex out of love of God, God used Satan’s affliction for their good. If they simply said to themselves, I must be doing something good, since Satan’s persecuting me, they’d be stuck in the “Satan did it” syndrome, and unable to learn not to blaspheme.

3. Ambiguities as to when Good Things Happen
The good things are easier to handle. It’s great when the silos are full of corn, the wine cellars are full of wine, the bank account is full of cash, and the table is full of children. Thank God when you receive such blessings.

But still be careful to examine yourself. Recall that you are just a visitor here. This life is not all there is. You may receive the good things of this life from God, but there is a life to come. Do not be like the rich man, who put off his concern for the afterlife until he was already in the pit. Be like Job: hold what good things God has given you loosely enough that you can be ready to say, “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” That’s not easy.

More than that, don’t assume that because everything is going well, God is happy with you. Recall those who robbed David:

1 Samuel 30:16 And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of the Philistines, and out of the land of Judah.

They were feasting and rejoicing. But destruction was looming.

1 Samuel 30:17-19
17And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled. 18And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. 19And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.

What is the bottom line? We should be cautious about reading Providence. God deals in ways that are often obscure. Joseph may have seen only his brother’s jealousy during his trip to Egypt, or he may have seen correction to his own pride. But even that was not the big picture. The big picture was that God was working out the good of his chosen people, showing his love for them.

Whatever adversities may find you, whatever circumstances may happen to you, if you do not trust in Christ alone for salvation you should tremble with fear, but if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation take comfort in God’s assurance that:

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Praise be to our Glorious King!

UPDATE: S. Todd Young has something similar to say, especially about Joseph (link).

The Two Posts of Christianity

February 26, 2007

There are two pillars of a complete doctrine of God’s interation with the world:

Creation and Providence.

Both are under attack on a daily basis. Providence is under attack from anti-Calvinists, and Creation is under attack from Evolutionists. Denial of Providence is key to affirming man’s individual sovereignty. If God is in control of everything that happens, man cannot be. Likewise, denial of Creation is key to affirming man’s supremecy. If God created man, then man exists for God’s pleasure. If man rose from among the apes, then man has pulled himself up to the place where he is.

Praise be to our Creator and Provider!

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