The Doctrine of Providence and God’s Unique Identity

| Thu, Oct 13, 2011 | Set 1 Week 41

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Louis Berkhof:

Providence may be defined as that continued exercise of the divine energy whereby the Creator preserves all his creatures, is operative in all that comes to pass in the world, and directs all things to their appointed end.

This definition indicates that there are three elements in providence, namely, preservation, concurrence or cooperation, and government. . . . But while we distinguish three elements in providence, we should remember that these three are never separated in the work of God. While preservation has reference to the being, concurrence to the activity, and government to the guidance of all things, this should never be understood in an exclusive sense. (Systematic Theology, [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939] 166)

Berkhof goes on to show that the biblical idea of God’s providence is very different from pantheistic and deistic notions. In other words, his discussion of providence involves his explanation, “This is not like this and not like that.” The true God is different than the other gods of this world that we’ve made up ourselves.

Isaiah is saying the same thing. The talk of God’s sovereignty and providence is all in the context of Isaiah showing us God’ unique identity. There is no one like the LORD — “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.” Part of God’s uniqueness is his providence — he declares the end from the beginning and brings to pass everything that he purposes. No one else can do this.

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