PMT 2017-094 by R. J. Rushdoony (Chalcedon Foundation)
Every now and then somebody tries to tell me that everything is useless, because all life is determined by the politicians, or by heredity, environment, capitalists, labor unions, or somebody else. Naturally, a minister has to be polite, so I can’t always say exactly how I feel about such opinions, although I do assert human responsibility as against this excuse-making.
This morning, I’d like to try to answer that question: Who runs things, anyhow? Who or what is it that ultimately pulls the strings and makes things work? Most ideas on the subject are as old as man, and can be summed up in two philosophies of ancient Greece, Epicureanism and Stoicism. The Epicureans said that the universe is ruled by chance, not purpose. There is for them no real meaning to life, and man is too little to give any purpose to it. The Stoics said that fate ruled all things, and man was utterly helpless against his fate. Most of our ideas today can be summed up under either one of these philosophies: chance and fate are believed to rule all.
Against this is the Christian doctrine of providence. Faith in providence is an assertion of belief that there is purpose in all things, that God operates in and through all things to bring them to their appointed end. Providence involves the preservation of all things in terms of the divine plan, the concurrence or cooperation of God in every event, so that at no point is He ever absent or not in rule, and, finally, His government in and through every event and thing.
Can we believe in providence? Well, if we can’t believe in providence, we can’t believe in anything. There is creative purpose at work in all things, the will of God for that creature or creation. When I got into my car this morning, I did so with a purpose, a specific purpose. When God created, He created with purpose, not aimlessly, and all things reveal that purpose.
This article was taken from:
“Good Morning, Friends” by R. J. Rushdoony.
Spanning subjects from the Reformed faith to the Trinity, life, suffering, prayer, the Bible, church, wisdom, and much more.
Now let’s turn our minds to something else for a few minutes, before we continue our discussion of providence. Two Saturday nights ago, when I should have been working on the last touches for my Sunday sermons, I got involved in a book on spiders and spent considerable time browsing through it. This one item especially appealed to me. A census of spiders was made in a field of rough grass in Sussex, England, and it showed the amazing spider population of over 2 1/4 million to the acre. On this basis, it was estimated that the spider population of England and Wales is 2 1/5 billions, which, at the very least, eat annually an insect population whose weight is greater than the entire human population of England and Wales. If the spiders did not destroy these insects, men could not survive.
This is interesting enough, but something further occurs to me, and I consider it even more tremendous a fact. The insects these spiders eat each have their appointed purpose, and they fulfill it, only to be kept within the bounds and within usefulness by the spiders. In turn, the spiders are kept down by other creatures, birds, for example. So each does its appointed work, and has some natural check placed upon it to preserve the balance of nature.
All of this speaks, not of fate or chance, but of design, purpose, and providence, and that design and purpose reaches to the smallest details of creation. Scripture tells us that the very hairs of our head are all numbered. Our Lord declares that not a sparrow falls, but our Father in heaven knows it; and the Lord told Job of His delight in all His creation.
There is a vast and magnificent purpose in all creation, and any notion of chance in the face of it seems utter stupidity. Scripture asserts that God’s providential control is over the universe at large, over the physical world and brute creation, over the affairs of nations, over man’s birth, life, and death, and his outward success and failure, over things seemingly accidental or insignificant, in the protection of the righteous, in supplying the wants of God’s people and in answering prayer, and in the exposure and punishment of the wicked.
Predestination Made Easy
(by Ken Gentry)
A thoroughly biblical, extremely practical, and impressively clear presentation of
the doctrine of absolute predestination.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Thus the answer to the question, who runs things? is, “God in His providence does.” To the claim that everything is useless, and there is no point in life, the answer is that everything is purposive, and there is a point to everything, but nothing is understandable, neither the spider nor man, unless we begin with God. He it is who gives meaning to all of life. Take away faith in Him, and you have nothing, and everything very definitely does become useless. This applies not only to life around us, but to ourselves. Our lives have meaning only in terms of Him and His purpose for us: if we forsake Him and His purpose for us, we forsake the sanity of life with meaning. To believe in God is to believe in providence, and to believe in providence is to believe that our life has purpose and direction even in spite of ourselves and our shortcomings, and that God works concurrently in us to that determined and glorious end.
As the Westminster Confession of Faith declares it:
God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct, dispose and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even unto the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness and mercy. (Chap. 5:1)
As our Lord stated it (Matt. 10:29–31): “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”