Tag Archives: Preservation

“God is King” by Herman Bavinck

“Preservation itself, after all, is also a divine work, no less great and glorious than creation. God is no indolent God (deus otiosus). He works always (John 5:17), and the world has no existence in itself.

From the moment it came into being, it has existed only in and through and unto God (Neh. 9:6; Ps. 104:30; Acts 17:28; Rom. 11:36; Col. 1:15ff.; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 4:11). Although distinct from His being, it has no independent existence; independence is tantamount to nonexistence.

The whole world with everything that is and occurs in it is subject to divine government. Summer and winter, day and night, fruitful and unfruitful years, light and darkness—it is all his work and formed by him (Gen. 8:22; 9:14; Lev. 26:3ff.; Deut. 11:12ff.; Job 38; Ps. 8, 29, 65, 104, 107, 147; Jer. 3:3; 5:24; Matt. 5:45; etc.).

Scripture knows no independent creatures; this would be an oxymoron. God cares for all His creatures: for animals (Gen. 1:30; 6:19ff.; 7:2ff.; 9:9–17; Job 38:41; Ps. 36:7; 104:27; 147:9; Joel 1:20; Matt. 6:26; etc.), and particularly for humans.

He sees them all (Job 34:21; Ps. 33:13–14; Prov. 15:3), fashions the hearts of them all, and observes all their deeds (Ps. 33:15; Prov. 5:21); they are all the works of His hands (Job 34:19), the rich as well as the poor (Prov. 22:2).

God determines the boundaries of their habitation (Deut. 32:8; Acts 17:26), turns the hearts of all (Prov. 21:1), directs the steps of all (Prov. 5:21; 16:9; 19:21; Jer. 10:23; etc.), and deals according to His will with the host of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth (Dan. 4:35).

They are in His hands as clay in the hands of a potter, and as a saw in the hand of one who pulls it (Isa. 29:16; 45:9; Jer. 18:5; Rom. 9:20–21).

God’s providential government extends very particularly to His people. The entire history of the patriarchs, of Israel, of the church, and of every believer, is proof of this.

What other people meant for evil against them, God turned to their good (Gen. 50:20); no weapon fashioned against them will succeed (Isa. 54:17); even the hairs on their head are all numbered (Matt. 10:30); all things work together for their good (Rom. 8:28).

Thus all created things exist in the power and under the government of God; neither chance nor fate is known to Scripture (Exod. 21:13; Prov. 16:33).

It is God who works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11) and makes all things serviceable to the revelation of His attributes, to the honor of his name (Prov. 16:4; Rom. 11:36).

Scripture beautifully sums up all this in repeatedly speaking of God as a king who governs all things (Ps. 10:16; 24:7–8; 29:10; 44:4; 47:6–7; 74:12; 115:3; Isa. 33:22; etc.).

God is King: the King of kings and the Lord of lords; a King who in Christ is a Father to His subjects, and a Father who is at the same time a King over His children.

Among creatures, in the world of animals, humans, and angels, all that is found in the way of care for, love toward, and protection of one by the other is a faint adumbration of God’s providential order over all the works of His hands.

His absolute power and perfect love, accordingly, are the true object of the faith in providence reflected in Holy Scripture.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, vol. 2, Ed. John Bolt, and trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 592–593.

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“His grip on us is unbreakable” by Marcus Peter Johnson

“The gospel is full of inconceivably extravagant promises from our Father. He has given these promises to provide His children with the full assurance of His freely given, irrevocable love, and they are grounded in His steadfast, immovable, unchangeable faithfulness.

What God promises He will infallibly bring to pass. And all the promises the Father makes are bound up inextricably in Jesus Christ, in whom they are fulfilled and completed: ‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ’ (2 Cor. 1:20, niv1984).

In order to bring to fruition all that He has promised us, God joins us indissolubly to the One in whom all the promises are contained, fulfilled, and secured. It is only in Christ that we benefit from any of God’s lavish pledges.

Thus, the assurance believers have that God will infallibly save them, and that they will never cease to be saved, is rooted in their being joined to the Savior. The Father gives us to the Son, and it is the Father’s will that the Son save us to the uttermost:

‘And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day’ ( John 6:39–40).

Our separation from Jesus Christ would mean nothing less than the failure of the Son to accomplish the Father’s will. Once joined to Christ, believers will never be separated from Him.

This is not because our grasp on Christ is so strong, but because His grip on us is unbreakable. We are not only perfectly and eternally preserved in Christ because His grasp is insuperable, but, should we need even greater assurance, Jesus tells us that His hold on us is undergirded by the invincible grasp of His Father:

‘I give [my sheep] eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one’ ( John 10:28–30).

The Son and the Father have a common and mutually re-enforcing grasp on those who belong to them. Indeed, we can say more: our preservation in Christ is anchored in the personal relations and purposes of the Father, Son, and Spirit.

The Father gives us to His Son through His Spirit or, alternatively, the Spirit joins us to the Son, and through the Son to the Father (John 14:16–20). Only a breach in the common unity and will of the triune Godhead could sever us from Jesus Christ.”

–Marcus Peter Johnson, One With Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 173-174.

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