Afternoon Sermon: What Are God’s Works Of Providence?, Baptist Catechism 14, Matthew 10:16–39


Baptist Catechism 14

Q. 14. What are God’s works of providence?

A. God’s works of providence are His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all His creatures, and all their actions. (Neh. 9:6; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; Ps. 103:19; Matt. 10:29,30)

Scripture Reading: Matthew 10:16–39

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:16–39, ESV)



As I began to write this sermon about God’s providence my mind went to the creation account of Genesis 1. God took six days to create, remember? And on the seventh day, he entered into rest. I suppose that some may take this to mean that God entered into a state of inactivity. But that would be a misunderstanding. No, when the scriptures say that God rested, they mean that God rested from his work of creation. God does not create continuously as he did in the beginning. In the beginning, he created the heavens and the earth. He then formed and fashioned the earth into a place suitable for humans to live. Lastly, he created man in his image and gave them dominion over the creatures. This he did in six-days, and he rested on the seventh day… from his work of creation. But I hope that you do not think that God sits in heaven now in a state of inactivity as if he were napping while human history unfolds. This would be a terrible misunderstanding concerning God’s relationship to the world he has made. 

We confess that in the beginning, God created the heavens and earth. Now we are concerned with the question, how does God relate to this world that he has made? Is he distant from it? Has he turned his back on it? Is he hands-off? Is he sleeping in heaven? No! Though it is true that God rested from his work of creation on the seventh day, we confess that God entered into another kind of work, namely his work of providence.

The question before us this afternoon is, What are God’s works of providence?

Our confession of faith – the Second London Baptist Confession Of Faith – has a very beautiful and helpful chapter on providence. Chapter five is seven paragraphs long. Each of them is important, but please allow me to read only paragraph one. It says, “God the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, to the end for the which they were created, according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will; to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy.” That is certainly true and very helpful. 

Our catechism communicates the same truths, but much more briefly. 


Preserving and Governing 

What are God’s works of providence? God’s works of providence are His… preserving and governing all His creatures, and all their actions.

The words “preserving and governing” describe to us the two ways in which God providentially cares for this world. 

Firstly, we say that God preserves this world. 

This draws our attention to the fact that God upholds this world according to the nature of the things he has made. While the earth remains there is day and night, summer and winter, seedtime and harvest. The process of procreation continues on in the animal kingdom and amongst the human race, etc, etc. We call this the natural order, but it would be a mistake to think that God is uninvolved. In truth, the “natural order” of things is upheld and sustained by the providential care of God. He created the world in the beginning, and now he preserves the world that he has made. He promised to do so in the covenant he transacted with creation in the days of Noah. And he does so through the eternal Son. This is what the letter to the Hebrews means when it says, “ 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…” (Hebrews 1:3, ESV).

When we say that God preserves the world we mean that he upholds it. And we also mean that he provides for his creatures. He gives us our daily bread. Or consider the words of the Psalmist as he speaks to God, saying, “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:15–16, ESV).

Secondly, we say that God governs his creatures. 

When we say that God governs his creatures we mean that he rules over them. God is Lord Most High. He is the Sovereign One. In Isaiah 46:9 God says, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose…’” (Isaiah 46:9–10, ESV).


All His Creatures, And All Their Actions

And what does God providentially govern? Our catechism is right to say that God preserves and governs “all His creatures, and all their actions.” 

In other words, there is nothing that is outside of his sovereign control. Psalm 103 testifies to this, saying, “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19, ESV).

His rule extends even to the smallest of creatures. Do you remember what Jesus said concerning God’s providence? “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29–31, ESV).

And there in that text, we find another truth: God exercises a special kind of loving providence over his people. Listen to the way that God speaks to his chosen people in Zechariah 2:8: “he who touches you touches the apple of his eye…” (Zechariah 2:8, ESV)

One question that people often ask when presented with this teaching is, what about sinful actions? How can we say that God governs sinful actions? One, he governs sin by permitting sin. God allows men to sin, but he himself does not tempt men to sin. This is what James says. “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13, ESV). Two, God governs sin by restraining sin. And three, God governs sin by using that which is evil for good. Joseph knew this, and so he was able to speak to his brothers who sold him into slavery in this way: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20, ESV).


Holy, Wise, And Powerful 

So we have learned that God’s works of providence are… His preserving and governing all His creatures, and all their actions. But you have probably noticed that I skipped a phrase. Our catechism describes God’s preserving and governing of his creatures and their actions as “most holy, wise, and powerful.” This is an important description, for it describes the quality of God’s providence. 

God’s providence is most holy. Psalm 145:17 says, “The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.” (Psalm 145:17, ESV)

God’s providence is most wise, for in him “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3, ESV)

And God’s providence is most powerful. Indeed, “all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35, ESV)



God is not asleep in heaven, brothers and sisters. No, he is “preserving and governing all His creatures, and all their actions” in a “most holy, wise, and powerful” way. And because of this, we can trust him.

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