God Still Works: Trusting God’s Providence is the title of the third chapter of Kingdom Come. You can purchase the book HERE. Chapter three begins with two striking quotes, one from Lipscomb and one from Harding, that establish the theme of the chapter. Very interesting life details of both men set the tone for the focus on the chapter, which is how the apocalytic vision of Lipscomb and Harding affects their view of God’s activity among men. Both of them suffered significant losses and lived during extremely trying times. These facts are essential for grasping the seriousness with which they embraced the special providence of God.
What is written about providence here is in relation to pain and suffering. “Everything that happens, according to Harding, serves God’s purposes. ‘He loves us and he allows no pain, no sorrow, no disappiontment to come to us except it be for our own good’” (p. 45) Two divergent views of providence characterized disciples of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. One view has God only working through natural law without any personal action in the lives of people. The other view is that God is deeply involved in our lives. This was a core belief, according to Harding, and Anything less than God’s active invlovement would be considered “unbelief” (p. 46).
Suffering and difficulties in life are viewed by Lipscomb and Harding as leading us through stages of development, remaking us into the image of Christ. Everything that happens is leading toward the end that God desires. “God is constantly ‘in some way incomprehsible to mortal men…causing all things to work together for their good’” (p. 48). Three text that were especially important to Harding are Psalm 37, Matthew 6:33, and Romans 8:28.
God Ruleth Over Everything is an excellent section of this chapter that all would do well to study. It presents a theological basis for special providence. The next section begins with a bold and pertinent assertion. “Our response to God’s sovereignty is faith rather than pride; dependence rather than self-reliance. This child-like trust does not understand everything” (p. 52). If God is going to allow suffering, then how shall we continue in faith in Him? Because of Jesus and his demonstrations of love. Jesus demonstrates the loving care of God. Jesus reveals the compassionate Father. Jesus demonstrates the soveriegn power of God. (p. 53)
H & V conclude, “We know we cannot interpret God’s acts in the world. We know we do not have all the answers to the difficult questions which love and sovereignty create for our myopic minds. Nevertheless, we trust” (p. 55). Of course there is much more in the chapter than we can summarize. And I’m sure H & V would agree that the subject of providence is bigger than one chapter in any book. However, their aim is to show how the life experiences of Lipscomb and Harding did not shape their theology, but rather they lived by faith in the God that He really would work all things to our good.
What was something that meant a lot to you in this chapter?
Do you think this puts all suffering in the hands of God? Or only that He works through the suffering that exists?
Thanks for reading along with me.