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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: God Has Spoken to Us

Don Stewart :: How Does Providence Testify to God's Existence?

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How Does Providence Testify to God’s Existence?

God Has Spoken to Us – Question 8

God has revealed Himself to the human race through His providential goodness in the world. His existence is made known through His provisions. This is also known as “common grace.” The Bible has the following to say about God’s providence.

1. The Lord Is Called the Providing God

The Lord is known as the “providing God.” We read about this in the Book of Genesis:

Abraham named the place “The LORD Will Provide.” This name has now become a proverb: “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:14 NLT)

He alone is the One who provides for humanity.

2. God Provides for Everyone: Both Believers and Unbelievers

When people wanted to worship Paul and Barnabas after certain miracles they performed, Paul set the record straight by saying the following:

“Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:15-17 NKJV).

The New Revised Standard Version translates these verses as follows:

Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good—giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy. (Acts 14:15-17 NRSV)

The rain from heaven, the different seasons, all testify to God providing for His creation. This providence is something that all of humanity benefits from. While there are no exceptions to this, this does not mean that everyone receives equal benefit from God’s providence. Providence, or common grace, does not touch all people the same way. It all depends upon where a person lives, and when, in history, they live. Indeed, the world has both seen famines and plagues. Therefore, God’s providence must be understood in the light of these conditions.

3. Jesus Testified That God’s Providence Is over Everything

Jesus said that God the Father watches over everything and everyone—there is nothing that is beyond His care. We read His words in the Sermon on the Mount:

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44, 45 NKJV)

The New Revised Standard Version translates this as follows:

“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:44, 45 NRSV)

The good and the bad, the righteous and the unrighteous, all receive the benefits of God’s gracious providential care. Again, there are no exceptions to this.

4. God Always Knows What Happens to Everything And Everyone

As the providing God, He knows everything that occurs. Jesus said that nothing escapes His notice. Matthew records Jesus saying the following:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:29, 30 ESV).

This is a comforting thought. God knows everything about everyone and every living creature. Even a small bird, like the sparrow is closely watched by Him. The Lord also knows the number of hairs on our head. Only He has complete knowledge of all things.

5. The Testimony from Providence Is Still Not Adequate to Know God

Though providence gives testimony to a loving and a caring God, it does not tell us who this God is, who we are, or what He wants from us. Humanity needs more information to understand the expectations of the One who has provided for their needs. Thus, a further revelation from God is necessary; something that explicitly explains this providing God. The Apostle Paul said the following to the people of Athens:

“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need there is. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand which should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. His purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As one of your own poets says, ‘We are his offspring.’” (Acts 17:24-28 NLT)

God orders the affairs of humans in such a way that all people should seek Him. However, humans do not honestly search for Him. When they ought to recognize God through these means, they do not. Instead, they turn their back on Him. Yet He is there for those who desire to know Him.

Summary – Question 8
ow Does Providence Testify to God’s Existence?

The God of the Bible is the providing God. God’s providence is seen in giving provisions to everyone in this world. This is also known as common grace. God’s provisions testify that there is a God who exists and who cares about His creation. However providence, by itself, is not sufficient to people to know the identity of the true and living God. It merely tells them that He exists and that He cares for everyone.

How Does the Human Conscience Reveal God? ← Prior Section
How Has God's Existence Become Known through Unwritten Tradition? Next Section →
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