“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
God Controls Everything
God is omnipotent–all powerful. He wants us to acknowledge his power too. It is not the vain and half-asleep power which speculative teachers try to pass off. It is vigilant, effective, energetic, and ever-active. It is a power which only acts as a general principle to put things into motion, like something which makes a stream stay in its course. It is power, on the other hand, which is intent on individual movements. God is omnipotent–not because he can merely act nor because he upholds the world through some general principles he previously established.
No, God is omnipotent because he rules over all things so that nothing happens in heaven or on earth without his counsel. Psalm 115:3 says, “He does whatever he pleases.” According to this verse, what he does is his trustworthy and wise plan. It is not correct to interpret the Psalmists words in the language of philosophy as if God is meant to be the primary agent, the beginning and cause of all motion. Instead, the verse is meant to comfort the faithful: God is in control of all things, even their adversity. They can rest assured that every they have to endure is under the ordination and command of God.
If the God’s rule extends to all his works, it is foolish to confine it merely to natural causes. Those who confine God’s providence to narrow limits defraud God of his glory. They does not merely allow things to act according to perpetual laws of nature. In fact, nothing would be worse for humanity than for it to be subject to the all the possible changes of sky, air, earth or the water. Furthermore, those who hold such a view downplay Gos’s goodness toward each individual. David exclaims that nursing infants are eloquent enough to celebrate God’s glory. From the very moments of their birth, they find nourishment prepared for them due to heavenly care. Indeed, if we do not shut our eyes or sense to the fact, we will see that some mothers have full provision for their infants. Other mothers have almost none. Both of these is according to the pleasure of God to nourish one child more liberally and another more sparingly. Those who give due praise to the omnipotent God receive a double benefit. God is fully able to reward those who pay homage to him. They can rest secure in His protection. Everything is subject to him–even Satan with all of his schemes and powers. Our fears cannot be calmed or subdued expect through firm believe in God’s omnipotence. Any fears we have of created things are ultimately superstitious fears because these things cannot hurt us by random of by chance. For example, Jeremiah forbids the children of God, “to be terrified at the signs of heaven, although the nations are terrified by them” (Jeremiah 10:2).
Now God does not condemn every kind of fear. People should fear God alone. Sometimes they transfer the government of the world from God to the stars, imagining that happiness or misery depends on their movements. Therefore, believers should always beware of such unbelief–there is no random power, or agent, or motion in nature that are not governed by the secret plan of God. Everything that happens that been knowingly and willingly decreed by God!