The Preservation of the Church, Pt. 2

Part 1 can be found here.

This paragraph presents the third salient feature of divine providence: the preservation of the church.

As the providence of God doth in general reach to all creatures, so after a most special manner it taketh care of His church, and disposeth of all things to the good thereof.

This paragraph sets forth the biblical doctrine of the special providence of God. Divine providence extends to all creatures generally. At the same time it extends specially to the people of God. The Scriptures as well as the Confession teach that the special focus of God’s providential care and attention is His people, the church.

Isaiah 43:3-5: “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west;”

Amos 9:8, 9: “‘Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, And I will destroy it from the face of the earth; Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,’ says the LORD. ‘For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, As grain is sifted in a sieve; Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.’”

Ephesians 3:10, 21: “…to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places . . . to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Thanks be to God that the church is the object of God’s special care! God is a shield to those who walk uprightly. He preserves the way of His saints (Prov. 2:7, 8). This is our great hope. Christ has accomplished a sure salvation for His people. We have been, are being, and shall be rescued from sin. Sin will not destroy the church because the church is the special object of God’s preserving providence.

Sam Waldron’s comments are a fitting summary of the teaching of this paragraph:

Who, if anyone, enjoys God’s special care? Is it the famous, the great, the political leaders, the Jews? No! It is the church. This is an often veiled, but very comforting fact. Where is the focal point of God’s providence in the world? Is it Jerusalem, where the temple was? Is it Rome, at the Vatican? Is it Mecca? No, it is where we, the church, are. Do not imbibe a secular mentality as to what is important in life. It is for the sake of the church that everything in life happens.[1]

The biblical truth of divine providence should practically affect us in at least five ways. It should call us, first of all, to recognize the greatness of God. Nothing lies outside of His control. Secondly, it should call us to recognize the goodness of God. Even when we are suffering, we must remember that all that God does is good and right. Thirdly, it should call us to repentance. We have no idea where our sin might take us. We must therefore repent of it quickly. Fourthly, it should call us to joyful confidence. We are always in the hand of God. No matter what happens to us, we can be confident that the Lord will never leave us or forsake us. Fifthly, it should call us to worship. A God so great and so good should be worshiped and adored.

Jim Domm has served as one of the pastors of Englewood Baptist Church in Englewood, NJ since 1995. He and his wife, Brenda, have been married since 1979. They have one married daughter and three grandchildren.

[1]  Samuel E. Waldron, A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith (Welwyn Garden City: Evangelical Press, 1989, 2016), 107.