Most Christians are aware that God created everything that has been made through Christ. “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him” Colossians 1:16. But the initial creative act has been followed with Christ’s continual providential work of upholding all things by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3). Paul taught, “in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
Christ Has Not Left Us
This continual care taught in Scripture is opposed to the god of deism which teaches that God created the universe but is separate from it and allows natural laws to continue without any supernatural aspects or influences. The god of deism transcendent, butimminemt. The God of the Bible is both far beyond our comprehension and imminent. Deism became very popular in the 1800’s and its influence continues today.
The influence of deism and post-enlightenment thinking/living is felt when even Cristians feel as though they are going through life on their own. They believe God is real, but they think and act as though he is far away in Heaven and somewhat unconcerned with their mundane lives. Isolation, loneliness, despair, and the desire to live autonomously as they love their own lives and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps dominates their intellectual, emotional, social, and financial lives.
This deistic life is far from the Christian life. God said, “Am I only a God nearby,’ declares the LORD, ‘and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:23-24). When Jesus came into the world, the proclamation was not there is a god. The exultant proclamation was “God with us” (Matthew 1:23; John 1:1, 14).
Deism cannot compare with Christianity’s doctrine of prayer. Since God is with us and uphold all things by his powerful word, we can call on him and know he will do what is best for his glory and for his people because he is present with us. The deistic doctrine of providence is also a cheap imitation of God’s actual work.
Psalm 147 is a hymn composed to praise God for his providential work. The Psalmist said:
Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant and praise is becoming. The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
He gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars;
He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength;
His understanding is infinite. The Lord supports the afflicted;
He brings down the wicked to the ground. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
Sing praises to our God on the lyre, Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who provides rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains. He gives to the beast its food,
And to the young ravens which cry. He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord favors those who fear Him,
Those who wait for His lovingkindness. Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion! For He has strengthened the bars of your gates;
He has blessed your sons within you. He makes peace in your borders;
He satisfies you with the finest of the wheat. He sends forth His command to the earth;
His word runs very swiftly. He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes. He casts forth His ice as fragments;
Who can stand before His cold? He sends forth His word and melts them;
He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow. He declares His words to Jacob,
His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation;
And as for His ordinances, they have not known them.
Praise the Lord!
— Psalm 147:1-20
God is both far above us and close to us. Paul preached, “for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’” (Acts 17:28).
Christ Always Sustains Creation
God created the world through Christ and the world always continues because Christ sustains it. In Colossians 1:17 Paul said “in him all things hold together.” Paul did not describe this as a once in a lifetime act (or once in a Creation). Paul describes creation as dependent upon Chris’s continual act. If Christ did not sustain creation every moment, then all of creation would cease to exist. This is far from deism—this is Christianity.
The seventh day of creation saw God cease the creation of new things, but his providential work of sustaining and working through all things continued. Bavinck wrote:
When on the seventh day God completed his work that he had done, he rested on the seventh day from all his work (Gen. 2:2; Exod. 20:11; 31:17). Thus, Scripture describes the transition from the work of creation to that of preservation. As Scripture also makes very clear (Isa. 40:28), this resting was not occasioned by fatigue, nor did it consist in God standing idly by. Creating, for God, is not work, and preserving is not rest. God’s “resting” only indicates that he stopped producing new kinds of things (Eccles. 1:9–10); that the work of creation, in the true and narrow sense as producing things out of nothing (productio rerum ex nihilo), was over; and that he delighted in this completed work with divine pleasure (Gen. 1:31; Exod. 31:17; Ps. 104:31). Reformed Dogmatics, Col. 2, 592.
Nothing new came into existence, but God continued the existence of all creation through Christ. Bavinck continued to describe creation’s dependence on God, “the world has no existence in itself. From the moment it came into being, it has existed only in and through and unto God (Neh. 9:6; Ps. 104:30; Acts 17:28; Rom. 11:36; Col. 1:15ff.; Heb. 1:3; Rev. 4:11). Although distinct from his being, it has no independent existence; independence is tantamount to nonexistence” (Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, 592). If Christ does not continuously sustain creation, it would cease to exist.
Every huge mountain and every dust particle exists by God for God. Every star, mountain, moose, and mouse exists because God willed and wills it to exist. Every raindrop, every grain of sand, every blade of grass, and each person on the planet exists because God currently wills them to be and this for his own glory.
Christ’s providential work has always been. There has never been a time when Jesus was not responsible for sustaining everything that is. Even as Mary held her new infant for the first time, she was held in her Son’s providential care. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, his will sustained the cross and the nails which held him there. Even as you read this now, Jesus is causing you to be.
God’s constant work to sustain the universe is why “all things work together for the good” of his people (Rom. 8:28). Bavinck wrote, “Thus all created things exist in the power and under the government of God; neither chance nor fate is known to Scripture (Exod. 21:13; Prov. 16:33). It is God who works all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph. 1:11) and makes all things serviceable to the revelation of his attributes, to the honor of his name (Prov. 16:4; Rom. 11:36)” (Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 2, 593).