“God is King” by Herman Bavinck

“Preservation itself, after all, is also a divine work, no less great and glorious than creation. God is no indolent God (deus otiosus). He works always (John 5:17), and the world has no existence in itself.

From the moment it came into being, it has existed only in and through and unto God (Neh. 9:6; Ps. 104:30; Acts 17:28; Rom. 11:36; Col. 1:15ff.; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 4:11). Although distinct from His being, it has no independent existence; independence is tantamount to nonexistence.

The whole world with everything that is and occurs in it is subject to divine government. Summer and winter, day and night, fruitful and unfruitful years, light and darkness—it is all his work and formed by him (Gen. 8:22; 9:14; Lev. 26:3ff.; Deut. 11:12ff.; Job 38; Ps. 8, 29, 65, 104, 107, 147; Jer. 3:3; 5:24; Matt. 5:45; etc.).

Scripture knows no independent creatures; this would be an oxymoron. God cares for all His creatures: for animals (Gen. 1:30; 6:19ff.; 7:2ff.; 9:9–17; Job 38:41; Ps. 36:7; 104:27; 147:9; Joel 1:20; Matt. 6:26; etc.), and particularly for humans.

He sees them all (Job 34:21; Ps. 33:13–14; Prov. 15:3), fashions the hearts of them all, and observes all their deeds (Ps. 33:15; Prov. 5:21); they are all the works of His hands (Job 34:19), the rich as well as the poor (Prov. 22:2).

God determines the boundaries of their habitation (Deut. 32:8; Acts 17:26), turns the hearts of all (Prov. 21:1), directs the steps of all (Prov. 5:21; 16:9; 19:21; Jer. 10:23; etc.), and deals according to His will with the host of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth (Dan. 4:35).

They are in His hands as clay in the hands of a potter, and as a saw in the hand of one who pulls it (Isa. 29:16; 45:9; Jer. 18:5; Rom. 9:20–21).

God’s providential government extends very particularly to His people. The entire history of the patriarchs, of Israel, of the church, and of every believer, is proof of this.

What other people meant for evil against them, God turned to their good (Gen. 50:20); no weapon fashioned against them will succeed (Isa. 54:17); even the hairs on their head are all numbered (Matt. 10:30); all things work together for their good (Rom. 8:28).

Thus all created things exist in the power and under the government of God; neither chance nor fate is known to Scripture (Exod. 21:13; Prov. 16:33).

It is God who works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11) and makes all things serviceable to the revelation of His attributes, to the honor of his name (Prov. 16:4; Rom. 11:36).

Scripture beautifully sums up all this in repeatedly speaking of God as a king who governs all things (Ps. 10:16; 24:7–8; 29:10; 44:4; 47:6–7; 74:12; 115:3; Isa. 33:22; etc.).

God is King: the King of kings and the Lord of lords; a King who in Christ is a Father to His subjects, and a Father who is at the same time a King over His children.

Among creatures, in the world of animals, humans, and angels, all that is found in the way of care for, love toward, and protection of one by the other is a faint adumbration of God’s providential order over all the works of His hands.

His absolute power and perfect love, accordingly, are the true object of the faith in providence reflected in Holy Scripture.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, vol. 2, Ed. John Bolt, and trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 592–593.

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Filed under Christian Theology, Creation, God the Creator, God the Father, Herman Bavinck, Jesus Christ, Love of God, Providence, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

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