We Calvinists probably have a heightened awareness of our own depravity. After all, we proclaim it right at the beginning of our favorite acronym, TULIP. What makes our total depravity all the more remarkable is the grace of God that still counts us as valuable. In his work The Mystery of Providence, John Flavel offers 6 proofs that God actually does assign us such value and worth.
We know by the fact of his eternal, electing love. When we are aware of our deep sinfulness, we can only see this act of electing grace as being ancient, free, and utterly astonishing. Every aspect of God’s providence flows toward, or out of, this one.
We know by the precious gift of his Son. If David could look at the stars and marvel at the grace and magnitude of God (see Psalm 8), how much more should we look to the very Son of God clothed in flesh and marvel at what God has done?
We know by the close and careful attention God gives each of us, especially as it is seen through his moment-by-moment providential care. If God withdrew his care for even a second, we would soon be overwhelmed by sin and ruin.
We know by the tenderness of God’s providential care. “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 66:13). Flavel says, “As birds fly to their nests when their young are in danger, so he defends his.” Yet no tenderness displayed in a creature can serve as more than a dim shadow of the tender heart of the Creator.
We know by the sheer variety of the expressions of his providence. God’s providence is a veritable fountain that streams forth innumerable blessings spiritual and temporal, ordinary and extraordinary, public and personal.
We know by the way he invisibly ministers to us through the heavenly beings. “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14)?
Whatever else we know, we know that God loves us–that he loves to love us.
We will continue our reading next week with chapter 8: “The Duty of Reflecting on God’s Providence.” Read it by next Thursday and check in to see what I (and others) have to say about it.
The purpose of this project is to read classics together. So do feel free to leave a comment if you have something you would like to say. Alternatively, you may leave a link to your blog or Facebook or anywhere else you have reflected on what you have read.
If you would like to read along with us, we have only just begun, so there is lots of time to get caught up. Simply get a copy of the book and start reading…
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