Friday, March 15, 2024

The Vision (3.15.24): The Spiritual Advantage of Knowing God's Providence


Image: Daffodils, Charlottesville, Virginia, March 2024.

Note: Devotion is taken from last Sunday's afternoon sermon on Lord's Day 10 Heidelberg Catechism:

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience, and experience, hope (Romans 5:3-4).

It is interesting that there are various apologetic ministries that are dedicated to upholding the doctrine of God as Creator. One thinks of ministries like Answers in Genesis.

I couldn’t think of any ministry offhand, however, that is specifically dedicated to the doctrine of God’s Providence. Maybe we need to found one that could be called “Answers in Providence.”

On Lord’s Day 10 in the Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 28 asks, What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by His providence doth still uphold all things?

The answer given to the question illustrates why this catechism has been called a “book of comfort”:

Answer: That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from His love; since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.

This is very practical counsel. What is to be the Christian’s disposition or attitude in times of adversity (in the midst of frowning providences)? Patience.

And what is to be the Christian’s disposition or attitude in times of prosperity (in the midst of smiling providences)? Thankfulness. Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks.”

Maybe rather than asking, “How are you doing?”, Christians need to start asking one another, “Are you in a season of patience or in a season of thankfulness?”

One of the prooftexts provided for this teaching in the catechism is Romans 5:3-5. In Romans 5:3a, Paul says, “we glory in tribulations also.” He then proceeds in Romans 5:3b-4 to describe what we might call a “golden chain” of sanctification: tribulation produces patience; patience produces experience; and experience produces hope. Paul concludes, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

May the Lord teach us in all the providential circumstances of life to respond with patience and thankfulness.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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