preacher and writer in Chicago



As we've been teaching through Acts at church God's providence has been on constant display. In particular after Peter and John are released from prison and evade further persecution for healing a man in Jesus' name, the people of God respond in prayer. Their prayer is anchored in Psalm 2 and the providence of God.

And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. (Acts 4:24-28)

They pray.

They call God the Sovereign Lord.

They surrender themselves to God's predestined plan.

God’s sovereignty and power to predestine all things are aspects of the providence of God. We should understand God's providence as the reality that “God is continually involved with all created things in such a way that he (1) keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them; (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; and (3) directs them to fulfill his purposes” (Grudem). Theologians call these three aspects of God's providence preservation, concurrence, and governance. 

Preservation is the act of God to not merely create everything but to preserve, cultivate, maintain, and hold everything together by his will and power.

  1. Nehemiah 9:6 … "You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you."

  2. Hebrews 1:3 … "He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high …"

  3. Colossians 1:16-17… "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, andin him all things hold together."

Concurrence is the act of God to not merely preserve everything but to invite human beings in particular and creation in general into a cultivating and keeping relationship with him, to work concurrently toward his will.

  1. Psalm 148:8 … "fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word."

  2. Proverbs 16:33 … "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord."

  3. Philippians 2:13 … "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."

Governance is the act of God to not merely preserve and work with creation but ultimately to be the Lord over all creation and work in and through his creation to bring about his purposes and plan.

  1. Psalm 103:19 … "The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all."

  2. Romans 11:36 … "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."

  3. 1 Corinthians 15:27 … "For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him."

  4. Ephesians 1:11 … "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."

In response to God's provision the people of God prayed. Their prayers were rooted in the word and character of God. They were rooted in God's providence. In doing so the church not only gave glory to God for what he had done but they acknowledged their trust in God no matter their circumstance. In other words they saw both the past and future with theological exactness knowing that God is the God who creates, keeps, and rules over all things.