God’s Providence: Our Comfort

God's Providence: Our Comfort

John Calvin writes about our “knowledge” of God’s providence in his Institutes of the Christian Religion:

‘Gratitude of mind for the favourable outcome of thing, patience in adversity, and also incredible freedom from worry about the future all necessarily follow upon this knowledge.’ (see 1.17.7)

By knowledge he means that we properly understand and see the ramifications of the doctrine. By “providence” he means that as described by many passages of scripture (e.g. ), and by the 1689 London Confession 5:1, which says that God “upholds, directs, organises and governs all creatures and things, from the greatest to the least … ” I wrote about God’s providence recently here.

With that in mind, read the quote again. Calvin says that when we know and trust God in his providence, we should be 3 things.

1. Thankful for all of the good things that come about in our life,

2. Patient in difficult times in our life, and

3. Free from worry.

God is in control, says Calvin. So, be thankful! Be patient! Don’t worry!

Picture credit: John Calvin’s church in Geneva, by Mark Gstohl. Some rights reserved.

10 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,’
11 calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

The Black Swan: Can a Christian believe in randomness?

blackswan

I have just finished Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book, The Black Swan. It was, ironically, given the name of the publishing company, published by Random House back in 2007. The Black Swan is about improbable, unexpected events which have a high impact. Even more importantly, Taleb wants the reader to be aware of our inability to predict these events. Indeed, we all stomp around behaving as though we just know that our home won’t catch on fire tomorrow. We also behave like we know that a plane won’t crash into the building we work in while we’re working in it. And yet we don’t know. We cannot know.

This is not a book review, but more of a Christian reflection on the ideas in the book. The kind of events Taleb has in mind are massive stock market crashes (e.g. 1929, 1987, and 2008), terrorist attacks on Australian soil, or the rise of Christianity. High impact, unpredictable, and improbable. That’s the trio of features. Continue reading The Black Swan: Can a Christian believe in randomness?

The Prosperity Gospel?

Here is a wonderful excerpt from J. C. Ryle, written 130 years ago, about the story of Jesus calming the storm ().[1]

“Following Christ will not prevent our having earthly sorrows and troubles.

“Here are the chosen disciples of the Lord Jesus in great anxiety… The fear of death breaks in upon them like an armed man. The deep water seems likely to go over their souls.

“Perhaps they had not reckoned on all this.  Perhaps they had expected that Christ’s service would at any rate lift them above the reach of earthly trials.  Perhaps they thought that He , Continue reading The Prosperity Gospel?

37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”