Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Providence BOOK CLUB

Providence by John Piper

The providence of God is his purposeful sovereignty by which He will be completely successful in the achievement of His ultimate goal for the universe. God’s providence carries His plans into action, guides all things toward his ultimate goal, and leads to the final consummation.
John Piper draws on a lifetime of theological reflection, biblical study, and practical ministry to lead readers on a stunning tour of the sightings of God’s providence—from Genesis to Revelation—to discover the all-encompassing reality of God’s purposeful sovereignty over all of creation and all of history.
Exploring the goal, nature, and extent of God’s purposes for the world, Piper offers an invitation to know the God who holds all things in his hands yet remains intimately involved in the lives of his people.
Watch this six-minute video as John Piper talks about the book.

This week we begin by looking at the Introduction: Four Invitations. Below are a few takeaways:

  • In this introduction, I would like to offer you four invitations. First, I invite you into a biblical world of counterintuitive wonders. I hope that you will let the word of God create new categories of thinking rather than trying to force the Scripture into the limits of what you already know.
  • In the end, my invitation into the biblical world of counterintuitive wonders is an invitation to worship.
  • Second, I invite you to penetrate through words into reality.
  • People who love the Bible and believe that it is God’s word want to know what the Bible teaches, not just what it says. They want to know the reality being presented, not just the words that were written.
  • I am going to use the word providence to refer to a biblical reality. The reality is not found in any single Bible word.
  • Third, I invite you into a God-entranced world.
  • Fourth, and finally, I am inviting you to know, maybe as you never have known, the God whose involvement in his children’s lives and in the world is so pervasive, so all-embracing, and so powerful that nothing can befall them but what he designs for their glorification in him and his glorification in them (2 Thess. 1:12).
  • When Christ died, everything—absolutely everything—that his people need to make it through this world in holiness and love was invincibly secured.
  • I would like to help as many as I can to know the God of all-embracing, all-pervasive, invincible providence.
  • The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 defines providence and then illuminates a difficulty, namely, the self-exaltation involved in God’s aim to display his own glory. Part 2 focuses on the ultimate goal of providence. Part 3 focuses on the nature and extent of providence.
  • Providence is all-embracing and all-pervasive, but when God turns the human will, there is a mystery to it that causes a person to experience God’s turning as his own preference—an authentic, responsible act of the human will.
  • God is sovereign over man’s preferences. Man is accountable for his preferences.
  • We are obliged to follow his revealed precepts, not his secret purposes.

Chapter 1: What is Divine Providence?

  • The reason this book is about the providence of God rather than the sovereignty of God is that the term sovereignty does not contain the idea of purposeful action, but the term providence does.
  • The focus of this book is on God’s sovereignty considered not simply as powerful but as purposeful. Historically, the term providence has been used as shorthand for this more specific focus.
  • That would be what we mean by God’s providence: he sees to it that things happen in a certain way.
  • There is a profound theological reason why God’s providence does not merely mean his seeing, but rather his seeing to. When God sees something, he sees to it.

Chapter 2 – Is Divine Self-Exaltation Good News?

  • What if, in the end, we discovered that the beauty of God turns out to be the kind that comes to climax in being shared? And what if the attitude we thought was mere self-promotion was instead the pursuit of sharing the greatest pleasure possible for all who would have it?
  • It will become increasingly clear why God’s aim to communicate his glory is not at odds with his aim to make us fully and eternally happy.
  • God’s glory is not any one of his perfections but the beauty of all of them, and the perfectly harmonious way they relate to each other, and the way they are expressed in creation and history.

Chapter 3: Before Creation

  • The ultimate goal of God in initiating the entire plan of salvation before creation was that he would be praised for the glory of his grace.
  • When God makes his praise the goal of his providence, he is pursuing our full and lasting pleasure. That is love.