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Providence not Fatalism

 If everything is determined in God’s decree and happens according to His providence, then what difference does it make how I live? I can’t change God’s decree or providence, can I?

Suggested Daily Reading: Philippians 2:1-13

All things, even every detail of our lives, is determined in God’s decree and all takes place according to His providence.  God is the primary cause of everything.  But God chooses to work through secondary means.  We may not separate these two truths that God has joined together.  We are to pray and to work.

For example, consider a farmer who reasons like this: “This year I am not going to cultivate, fertilize and irrigate my fields.  If it is in God’s plan to bless my harvest this year, then I will have a great harvest.  And if not, then I won’t.  Nothing I do, or don’t do, will change God’s plan.”

What’s wrong with this farmer’s reasoning?  He is separating God’s primary and secondary causes.  God not only decrees the end of all events, but also the means to reach the end.  God teaches us that if one does not work he will not eat.  We need to understand both truths and keep them coupled together.

We can make the same mistake regarding salvation.  Imagine someone reasoning like this: “I don’t read the Bible, pray or go to church.  If it is in God’s decree and plan to save me then He will.  And if not, then I will be lost.  Nothing I do, or don’t do, will change God’s plan.”  Such a person has disconnected the truth of God’s plan from His commands to actively use His means of grace.

Read Romans 9: 15-16 and then Matthew 7:7-8.  If one only emphasizes the Romans text (God’s sovereignty) he will end in a fatalistic religion.  If one only emphasizes the Matthew text (man’s responsibility) he will end in a free-will (it depends upon me and my choice-type) religion.  We need to keep both truths coupled together.

Read Philippians 2:12-13.  How do these two verses link both truths together, i.e. salvation is of God (God’s decree, plan and doing) in verse 13, but also that we are to be active, to work, seek, knock, ask, etc. in verse 12?

Are you thinking about and acting upon these two truths in a correct, healthy, and balanced way?


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