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Government and Providence

Government and Providence

From Doctrine According to Godliness: A Primer of Reformed Doctrine, by Ronald Hanko, pages 93-94.


Another aspect of God’s providence is his government and rule over all things. That God does rule is clear from Scripture (Ps. 2:2–4). As the Ruler of all things and as the God of providence, he is the “blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). That providential rule of God is:

All-encompassing. There is nothing, not even Satan or sin, that God does not sovereignly rule (Job 1:12; Job 2:6).

Sovereign. God not only rules all things, but he rules them in such a way that they must do his will and serve his purpose. In the case of men, angels, and devils, his rule is not compromised by, or dependent on, the will of his creatures (Job 9:12).

Righteous. God rules all things in such a way that the responsibility for the actions of men, angels, and devils remains their own. He cannot be charged with the evil they do, though he is completely in control of it and even brings it to pass (Rom. 9:17–20).

Purposeful. God not only rules, but does so according to a perfect plan to which everything must and does conform. Nothing happens by chance. Nothing surprises God or causes him to change his mind or will (Ps. 115:3; Ps. 135:6; Rom. 9:21–22).

Incomprehensible. So great is God as the Ruler over all that his ways are beyond our understanding (Job 9:10; Isa. 55:8). Though all things work together for the good of his people and for the damnation of the rest, it is not always possible for us to see that. We live by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).

Gracious. God rules for the benefit of his people (Rom. 8:28).All things do not happen to work together for good to those who love God, but they do so because he controls and directs them through Jesus our Savior.

God’s rule is not, however, gracious to all. His rule over the ungodly is the opposite of his rule over his people. It is a damning rule, not only because they reject his rule and despise his gifts, but also because he actively rules them for their own destruction and damnation. This is not to deny that he gives them good things—life and breath, food and shelter, fruitful years, and all the rest—but never out of love or in grace.

This providential rule by God must be believed, for what we see does not always appear to be under God’s wise rule. Instead of order we see disorder in creation and society; instead of justice we see injustice, chaos, and apparent disarray in history and creation. Faith nevertheless believes and confesses that God is in control, that nothing happens by chance, and that by God’s grace all is for good. Faith holds that all things must work for the good of God’s people, and that they must work together for that good, to those who love God.


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