What is…
God’s providence

also known as: Divine providence


This word literally means foresight, but is generally used to refer to God's preserving and governing all things by means of 2nd causes. God works in mysterious and wonderful ways, and we are all dependent on Him for our existence.

“He is before [has existed prior to] all things, and in Him all things hold together” [endure] —Colossians 1:17 NASB

“…in Him we live and move and exist” [literally: are]. —Acts 17:28a NASB

…upholding all things by the word of his power… —Hebrews 1:3 KJV

As Albert Einstein revealed, all matter IS energy. All the things that we see and touch and use are actually energy being held together in the state of matter that we experience.

It is fundamentally true that all the universe is simply energy taking the temporary form of matter and under the rule of Divine physical laws. All came from their Author, the all-powerful mind of God. And it all endures because of the will of His mind.

Apparently, without the Creator’s constant mindfulness, the physical universe would blink out of existence. Does that fact make you feel somewhat insignificant?

Happily, we creatures made in the image of God—made of energy ordered and held together by His mind—are not at all insignificant to Him. He has a wondrous loving plan for His children. He sacrificed Himself for us. And there is far more to His plan for us than this temporary physical universe that we experience and that He currently maintains for what is but a very little while in eternity.

How does God do it?

How the myriad complexities of God’s providential governing on Earth is accomplished is never explained in Scripture. Obviously, it is not possible for finite, fallen minds to comprehend God’s infinite power, knowledge and wisdom. And it is not yet time for us to know more about this. We only know that it is a fact that God does govern all His creatures and all their actions, and that this governance is…

Its Extent

God’s providence extends to…

God does not cause or approve of sin, but He limits, restrains, and overrules it for GOOD.

From man’s sinful actions, God brings unexpected, wonderful results

As God gave mankind freewill, the sinful actions of men occur by God’s permittance and as controlled (Psalm 76:10) and overruled by God for GOOD (Acts 3:13).

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.” —Genesis 45:4-6 NASB

“…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” —Genesis 50:20 NASB

[Peter said:] “…Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” —Acts 2:22-24 NASB

“While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.” —Acts 3:11-16 NASB

Also see: 1 Sam. 6:6; Exodus 7:13; 14:17; Acts 3:18; 4:27-28

Its Purpose

It all works to bring ultimate glory to God.

“For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.’” —Romans 9:17 NKJV

“For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” —Romans 11:36 NKJV

Streaming video— 
Theologian R.C. Sproul on Creation & Providence
Length: 40 minutes

More information

Article Version: April 12, 2024