Here we consider JIPacker’s work on the problems that can affect a Christian’s life, an important factor related to false promises of perfectionism and leadership and evil and the character of evangelism. Not only in Divine Providence, but also in the lifelong contrast between flesh and spirit, the old and the new man. As he said more than once: ‘I, James Packer, am a rebuilding man.
J, I, Packer did an interesting short piece ‘Westminster and the Roller Coaster Ride’ (to be found in volume 2 by him Shorter fonts‘(301-304)), on the connection between the chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith on Providence, and the ups and downs of our lives. His point is that our Christian life is like a roller coaster ride. down, jerks, falls. stagger sideways, swing away, never calm ‘. And he could have added that these movements could not only describe physical states and changes, physical conditions, but also psychologically also changes.
God’s providence in chap. V of the Westminster Confession, and the confessions it has produced for independents and Baptists, do what it calls “masterful”. In paragraph 1, the Providence chapter shows that God has management and control over everything anywhere, anytime, and nothing happens without his involvement.
The problems we face most of the time arise because we fail to realize that God is in control. But we are mad when what we planned and counted goes wrong, say the death of a loved one, or we are plagued by illness. These events pose a problem to our beliefs. “Can God be real and good when things like this happen? We ask and have found that we doubt it.
This is because we, as Christians, assume that God’s purpose is to enable us to have a good life in conventional ways – health, wealth, friends, holidays, promotion, successful children, and so on. And our beliefs are kept firmly in a separate container. This is the basis of the “problem of evil” that dominates the discussion about theism in the media, etc.
However, the chapter on Providence goes on to claim that the nature of things continues. ‘He commands them (ie’ things’) to fall out according to the nature of the second causes (ie according to the manifold created forces of things). A stone does not behave like a sheep or like a person like a sheep. Besides maintaining the nature of created things, God, the first cause of everything, can assert his sovereignty as he pleases. The bush can burn, the waters of the Red Sea can be divided in extraordinary, miraculous ways.
In paragraph IV, we see that God’s superior power can extend to his creatures who have free will and are responsible even though God commands and rules them, including all other sins. God is responsible while God remains “the author or proponent of sin”.
In paragraph V, God’s meticulous sovereignty extends to his father leaving for a while “his own children to various temptations and the corruption and deception of the hearts of his people” to punish them for their sins or to give them the otherwise hidden strength of reveal their corruption and deception of their hearts in order to humiliate them and make them become more dependent on God and increase their future vigilance.
As JIP says, we could call our lives “God’s upward trajectory” licking us into shape for future joys. He quotes Psalm 119:67: “Before I was tormented I went astray, but now I keep your word.” (See also v. 71) And his relationship with the wicked he blinds and hardens them and leaves them to them own evil ways. Finally, he shows that in these two ways God “cares for his church and dispose of everything for good”, as Isaac Watts put it: “All creation is your business, but the saints are your special care”.
The author concludes by stating, “Such is the Westminster wisdom about providence – focused biblical insights will never be out of date. What a grace it will be when it never falls out of our own minds and hearts!”
More from the WCF
Indeed, most of what we learn from Chapter IV “Providence” of the Creed Chapter V about the framework of Christian life is repeated in Chapters XI, “Justification,” and Chapter XVIII, “Assurance of Grace and Salvation,” as follows:
Chapter XI ‘The Justification’ V ‘God continues to forgive the sins of those who are justified: and although they can never fall out of justification, they still do May their sins fall under God’s paternal disapproval and the light of His face not be restored until they humble themselves, confess their sins, seek forgiveness, and renew their faith and repentance
Chapter XII ‘Of Adoption’ ‘All who are justified can shout’ Abba, father ‘, are pityed, protected, provided for and chastened by him as a father.’
Chapter XIV “Saving the Faith” III This belief differs in degrees, weak or strong; may be attacked and weakened often and in many ways, but gain victory … through Christ, who is both the Author and perfecter of our faith ‘.
CH. XVI ‘Of good works, VI ‘God … is glad to accept and reward what is sincere, although there are many weaknesses and imperfections associated with it.
CH. XVII ‘On the Perseverance of the Saints’, III’ Nevertheless, through the temptations of Satan and the world, the prevalence of corruption that remains in them and the neglect of the means of their sustenance can turn into grave sins: and go on for a while: whereby they Attract God’s displeasure and grieve His Holy Spirit … ‘
We see from these excerpts from several chapters of the Creed that they confirm JIP’s view of the Christian life that it is often characterized from various sources by fits and beginnings, setbacks and difficulties, temptations and failures, rather than a constant ascent as by God Grace, in Christ we are enabled to come to our heavenly rest.
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“You will have tribulation in the world. But take courage, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
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