Predestination and Providence: What?


In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.  Ephesians 1:11

Predestination and providence are closely related.  Predestination can be defined as ‘the foreordaining by God of all that will happen, because God has decided it will happen.’  Jerry Bridges defines the providence of God as ‘His constant care for, and his absolute rule over, all creation for his own glory and the good of his people.’ I say that providence is how God works all things together for good so that we will become more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29) and works things for the good of His kingdom and His great name (Genesis 50:20 and Ephesians 1:12).  Provide is hidden in the word providence.

In today’s society, the secular world pretty much believes that there is nothing outside of our universe, denying God’s control and activity in our lives, past or present.  People would be more apt to attribute things to luck (good or bad), fate, or karma.  The Biblical view of life is that we have a God who is actively involved in our lives, the lives of non Christians and the events of history and culture.  

In other words, for Christians there is no such thing as luck, chance or fate.  The things that happen are because God has ordered the events of our lives to bring about our good and His glory.  Now some people will argue about free will and us not being robots.  Somehow God still gives us choices and freedom within the parameters of His directing and ordering of our steps.  

I used to have some problem with this idea, especially related to things that I didn’t like about my life and wondered why a good God would allow rotten things to happen.  I don’t argue as much anymore, perhaps because I have learned to trust God and know that He is good.  I have seen Him work things out in the long run that I impatiently couldn’t see how things would work out.  

Audra Shelby describes it better than I can in her book Behind the Curtain.  She was a missionary in Yemen and faced some really hard circumstances there with her family.  On pg. 158 she writes, “I crossed the line.”  Her husband asked “what line?”  “The line of trust.  I thought I trusted God completely.  But God showed me I put limits on my trust.  He wants me to trust Him not only when things make sense but also when they don’t.  He drew a line in the sand between how I trust Him and how He wants me to trust Him.  He asked me to cross it, and I did.”

Ephesians 1:12 tells us why He orders the events of our lives according to the wisdom of His will “so that we might be to the praise of His glory.”  God wants to use our lives as a showcase for His glory.  If we look at the sole purpose of our lives as being finding pleasure, we miss out on the bigger picture.  But if we look at God weaving the good and bad circumstances of our lives together to bring glory to Him and to have an eternal impact, then things make better sense.

Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a man are established (or ordered) by the Lord, when he delights in His way.”

I wish you good providence as you learn to trust God as He orders your steps.

About Martha

I am an avid student of the Bible, having studied it diligently for over 40 years. More than that, I love Jesus and want to know Him and to show Him in my life. I am currently in the education field as an Elementary Principal, having degrees in School Counseling and Administration. I have a post graduate degree in Child and Adolescent Mental Health from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. I have also gone to Bible school at the Columbia Graduate School of Bible and Missions (now Columbia Biblical Seminary) in Columbia, South Carolina and spent summers in youth ministry as well as five years as a youth director in a Baptist General Conference church. View all posts by Martha

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