Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Book Review: The Invisible Hand

The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good. R.C. Sproul. 1996. 220 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: I had just pulled my car into the garage and stepped out of it when the door to the kitchen opened and my daughter, Sherrie, appeared. Her face was ashen, and there was a look of horror in her eyes. She rushed into my arms, blurting out the words: "Oh, Daddy! My baby is dead!"

R.C. Sproul writes of the providence of God in his book The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good. He tackles the subject from all angles. I would not say all perspectives because my meaning may not be clear enough. What I mean is that he handles the subject in the abstract, as a scholar and theologian, and in the concrete as a son, husband, father, minister. Here we have lessons drawn from Scripture and from his own experiences.

I also chose the word angle because I thought it fit. He examines many, many subjects in light of God's providence. God's providence becomes the lens through which he views the world past, present, and future.

Providence covers not just the BIG, BIG, BIG picture--all of humanity from creation on--but the smallest, tiniest details of individual's lives. Though God's providence might feel impersonal and far removed from where we are and what we're experiencing, God's providence is personal. We're never far from God's thoughts--not because we're so mighty and important, mini-sovereigns in our own right, but because our God is THAT big.

Providence is something believers should be thankful for, find comfort and hope in. God's providence is a GOOD thing.

Hard Providence
The Invisible Hand
Providence as Provision
The Cry Heard Round the World
Everything Is Against Us?
Providence and Government
The Visible Hand
The Mystery of Providence and Concurrence
Primary and Secondary Causes
Providence and History
The Intersection of Redemptive and Secular History
Providence and the Church
To God Alone the Glory
Train Wreck
Providence and the Problem of Evil
All Things Work for Good
Providence and Miracles
Counterfeit Miracles
Providence and Prayer

To what end or purpose does God uphold all things? It is to the praise of His glory. This is a difficult concept to embrace in full measure because it suggests a kind of self-centeredness in God, and we are taught to see self-centeredness as sin. Indeed, to be self-centered is a sin for any creature. We mortals are called to be God-centered in our thinking. For creatures, God-centeredness is a virtue, and self-centeredness a vice. But for God, self-centeredness is pure virtue because it is also God-centeredness. For us to be God-centered is to fix our attention upon the most perfect Being. So it is for God Himself. Though what God does in His providence benefits us, its highest virtue is found in its glorification of God Himself. (21-22)
There is no 'what if?' in God. He is a God whose providence is in the details. (44)
The issue is not so much, Is God on our side? but, Are we on the side of God? (66)
If God is not sovereign, He is not God. It also seems that freedom belongs necessarily to the idea of a moral agent. If man is to be deemed responsible for his actions, he must have some degree of freedom. That freedom need not be absolute; it need not be autonomous. If the creature has some freedom, however limited, then the creature is responsible to whatever degree it is free. The concepts of divine sovereignty and limited human freedom are not mutually exclusive. We know from Scripture that man is not sovereign. I have heard it said that man's freedom limits God's sovereignty. If that were so then man, not God, would be sovereign. It is not that human freedom limits God's sovereignty. God's sovereignty is absolute and unlimited. Rather, it is God's sovereignty that limits human freedom. God's sovereignty transcends human freedom and rules over it. We are free only to the degree that God allows that freedom. (82)
All moments of history, the entire chronology of time, are in the hands of and under the supervision of Providence. (116)
When the people of God gather for worship, there is an intersection between time and eternity, between heaven and earth. (129)
In prayer we have the opportunity to learn of the character of the Father. Indeed, prayer is one of the most effective means we have to discern the invisible hand of Providence. The more we understand the character of God, the easier it is for us to see His hand at work in our lives. (207)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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