'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
We hear much today about sovereignty, but little about providence. Perhaps that is because of the real meaning of each.. Sovereignty has the meaning of complete independence, hence nations refer to themselves as “sovereign”, as do kings, and even other lesser mortals. Providence is sometimes taken to mean something that occurs without an apparent reason or cause, but something good that is believed to be fate, or of the supernatural - not necessarily of God. However, only God fits the ultimate meaning of both. He the ultimate combination of sovereignty and providence. As infinitely sovereign, He is completely and eternally providential with all - seen and unseen.
God interacts with His creation, including mankind in a variety of ways. Being sovereign, He has infinite options, all according to His holiness, righteousness, and power. He is in complete control, not only of His creation, but also of Himself. In His relationships and interactions with mankind and especially with His children through Jesus, there are several general, and yet identifiable channels through which He functions.
First, God manifests and relates to His people through direct intervention. These are sovereign and independent acts and influences for His own purposes in or upon His creation. This includes mankind, nations, individuals, and those who belong to Jesus Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also Sovereign God. We as His children therefore have direct access to the sovereign God the Holy Spirit, made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This direct intervention was manifested with power that day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon and into those assembled (Acts 2:1-4). The timing of Jesus coming, the rise and fall of kingdoms before and after Jesus coming, the flood (Genesis 6-8), the covenants and promises to Abraham and his decedents - all manifests God’s utter and total sovereignty and also His omnipotence.
God also works with His creation in other ways that we often do not understand. He also manifests His sovereignty through delegated intervention. One well known example is the story of Job in which God delegates authority, a kind of “blank check” with limitations, to Satan regarding Job (Job 1:6-12). There are times when these interventions by God are confused with another of God’s options.
There is also passive manifestation of God’s sovereignty. This can disturb us because the cause is often unidentifiable. Job was angry because he felt that the direct intervention was unjust. But he looked past Satan direct to God - he knew Who was really sovereign. With passive intervention, the immediate “cause” is difficult to see. God has not directly acted upon us. Neither has He delegated something in our lives. It is passive because what is occurring is not from God, or from Satan, but is of ourselves and/or others only (2 Chronicles 32:31). God has simply left us to our own devices. The is the type of intervention that occurs often in this world. Many times the evil that is observed is simply the result of the corruption in the hearts of those functioning in a fallen world. They are their own worst enemy. In some ways, this can be the most frightening. Even David chose an alternative when it was offered to him (2 Samuel 24:10-14). Another variation - and perhaps the most frequent passive expression of God‘s will - is time and chance (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Again this can be so easily confused with other manifestations of God’s interaction. Time and chance happens to all of us - Christian and unbeliever - as God allows. He is still sovereign - even over time and chance!
God as the infinite Sovereign, is also infinitely Providential in the life and affairs of His true children - that is, He is active with everything that is good for His people. Since only God is truly “good”, He manifests His good through His providential will. The phrase “God’s will” is tossed around often today, although most are not certain what it is. God’s providence can be described by two military terms: strategic and tactical. God’s loving providential care and guidance of us unto eternal salvation is expressed in an overall approach toward us that never varies and never wavers (James 1:17). However, God is a master Tactician. He will vary his approach and vary His responses to the natures and activities, weaknesses, tendencies, and bents of human nature of each of us individually.
God never changes in His righteousness (Malachi 3:6), but He always responds to our freedom and how we use it. We have the freedom to make choices, but we are admonished to chose righteousness and life (Deuteronomy 30:19). With each choice that we make - right or wrong - He will use as a learning and character building experience by way of allowing time and chance to function with us, or allowing an affliction of Satan (2 Corinthians 12:9), or directly intervene according to His sovereignty as our Creator and Savior. He has our perfection in mind at all times, and in all ways (Romans 8:28). This way, we learn to love the good and hate the evil, to go outside ourselves, and into Him.
Regardless of the circumstances in our lives in Jesus Christ, He is ever present. Even if He chooses to be far, yet He is still near. He is omnipresent, when we sin and need the gift of repentance, when make strides upward, or when we are in the valley, He is still God.
No matter how God evidences His Providence in your life, be at peace, and lean on His everlasting arms. He is also Sovereign!
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”- Romans 8:35-39
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