WCF 5.1

The Westminster Confession of Faith

God the great Creator of all things upholds, directs, disposes, and governs all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his certain foreknowledge and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy. (WCF 5.1)

Over the last few months we have been exploring the Westminster Confession of Faith together. We started with the foundations. First with Holy Scripture (WCF 1), and then God and the Holy Trinity (WCF 2). Next we moved to the decrees of God looking at God’s eternal decree (WCF 3) and then creation (WCF 4). This week we continue in the decrees of God in chapter five of the confession, but will now look at God’s role - not in its foundational sense - but in His continual providential care of all things. Here are three reasons why this should bring us untold joy.

First, we can rejoice because we all matter. We’ve noted that God (who is the creator of all things seen and unseen) sustains all things from the greatest to the least (Heb 1:3). As we have seen in previous weeks, God spoke and things happened. Now that’s not to say He spoke and then just let things happen (like a watchmaker winding up a clock and just letting it click), no He spoke and He is still at this very moment intimately involved with His creation. How you might wonder? Well He “upholds, directs, disposes, and governs” His creation.

Now this is incredible if you think about it because God is not some puppet master with his creation on his strings, where His creatures are “forced” to do His will (WCF 3.1-2), but he is also not aloof out there in the universe unaware of “all creatures” (WCF 3.7-8). This is a tricky thing to keep in balance. For any reader of the bible it is clear that God is over all things (Dan 4), and that this was something that the biblical writers stood in awe of (Job 38-41, Ps 135:6). In fact it was a starting point for Paul’s sermon in Athens as he preached to the skeptics - God is providential over all things for all people (Acts 17:25-28). That’s not something to be scared or angry about - it’s absolutely awesome to know. Which means in this big wide universe we are not alone - no far from it - God is very involved with his creation and cares about the greatest to the smallest detail of it, there is not a creature that slips by the wayside no matter how insignificant they might seem (Matt 10:29-31).

Second, we can rejoice in God’s providential care because He is good (Jam 1:17). There is no shadow of turning with our creator. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). And we should take note of that because if we are directed in all things “by his most wise and holy providence” it means we are directed and held in good hands (Prov 15:3, Ps 104:24; 145:17) and He is working things out in harmony with His good nature or as the confession puts it, His “immutable counsel of his own will” (Acts 15:18, Ps 94:8-11 c.f Eph 1:11, Ps 33:11).

Third, we can rejoice because God’s glory will be known. This is because He is working everything out “to the praise of the glory of his wisdom” (Eph 3:10). Now why might that matter? God is holy, He is awesome, He is wonderful and many many other things. We have an amazing creator who wants His creatures to know Him “on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matt 6:10). This means as God works all things out in His providence His “power, justice, goodness, and mercy” is shown. We would do well to think on these things and say a hearty amen to the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, but (we) must decrease.” (Jn 3:30, CSB).

Published: May 24, 2024

Updated: May 24, 2024