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THEOLOGY > God > Providence > Preservation 


Implied in the fact of Creation is the Preservation of Creation. That which exists must be kept in existence, and that which is necessary so that the life of Creation can continue must be provided; therefore, Preservation is two-fold: maintenance and sustenance.

God is the one doing these things; He alone created and He alone preserves. Creation requires a Preserver, and the Creator is the Preserver. Each new day is a testimony to and confirmation of God’s enduring Preservation of what He has made. Not only does each day manifest His Preservation, but the Scriptures affirm the same.

Preservation by God, both in His maintenance and sustenance of Creation, is opposed to and inconsistent with the autonomy of any portion of Creation; no part, animate or inanimate, is independently existent. No component is self-sufficient, that is, no facet can exist and continue alone. Preservation destroys any concept of self-sufficiency. All of creation is contingent—no part is self-sustaining; everything and everyone is dependent upon God. “There is not a single moment that the creature works independently of the will and the power of God” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 173).


By maintenance, it is meant that God keeps in existence what He brought into existence. Note the following verses:

You have made heaven . . . the earth and everything on it . . . and You preserve them all (Neh. 9:6);

surely the world is established so that it cannot be moved (Ps. 93:1);

For in Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28);

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Rom. 11:36);

And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (Col. 1:17);

upholding all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3);

the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word (II Pet. 3:7).

By His power, His Word of power, God brought Creation into existence: “And God said” (see: By His Word) and it was so. And it is by this same “word of His power” that Creation continues to exist; things hold together and do not fly apart because of Him. This concept is supported by these words from the above verses: “upholding,” “established,” “preserved,” “it cannot be moved,” “in Him we live,” and “in Him all things consist.” These words teach that God keeps the “something” from going back to “nothing.”

All of Creation is one moment from ceasing to be. All that is came from nothing, and all would return to nothing without the “upholding” by God. As stated in other articles this “nothing” is not some primordial something out of which the universe arose (see: Out of Nothing). Nothing means nothing. Before Creation, there was not anything—only God; and without God’s ongoing maintenance of Creation, it would return to nothing and there would be only God.

This impresses the believer with the fact that no part of Creation is self-existent; that is, there is no inherent life-principle in any part of Creation that is self-sustaining, but each plant and animal, and man, is sustained by God’s continual keeping power. There is nothing about Creation that insures its continued existence; there is no intrinsic fact or inherent essence that assures continuity for the created order. All of the created order is absolutely dependent. Man and all around him is exceedingly fragile.

God’s “upholding” of Creation reminds us of the distinction between the work of creating and the work of maintaining. God brought the heavens and earth into existence and now He keeps them in existence. One is not more glorious than the other, for both acts speak of the majesty and omnipotence of God; and in both works He displays His glory.

Not only is there a distinction, but in the distinction is the anticipation of the conclusion, the Eschaton that is ahead for all of Creation. It is for purpose, God’s purpose, that He brought the cosmos into existence and keeps it in existence. And He will uphold it until it accomplishes His eternal purpose; therefore, the upholding is not merely a passive support but is an active involvement by God in His unfolding plan for Creation.

Preservation guarantees uniformity for the universe, and in this uniformity is the true basis for scientific research. Confidence in the findings of science is predicated on the fact that the results today will be the same tomorrow; in other words, there is predictability in the universe. But what is the explanation for this phenomenon of continuity? Either there is something or Someone guaranteeing this regularity. It surely seems obvious that something cannot “guarantee” anything. It must be that Someone assures the continuation of all things with a certain uniformity and predictability.

In relying on this uniformity in the scheme of things the scientist involved in research is relying on the God that He often denies. He is presuming on something that he cannot explain and does not understand; in other words, the scientist is borrowing from the faith that he questions in order that he might do his work, without even recognizing his borrowing. Because of God’s “upholding” of all things there is legitimate work for the scientist to do. How tragic for the one doing the work to reject the One who makes that work possible. While rejecting the Creator, the scientist investigates the Creator’s world utilizing the principles built into the world by the Creator (see: Elohim: The Creator, The God of Creation, and Two Options).


By sustenance, it is meant that God provides what is necessary for Creation to fulfill its purpose. Sustenance is broad and inclusive; among the factors involved are: the sun and the rain, the diverse seasons, night and day, the fruit trees, the vegetation, the fish and animals that provide food for each other and for man, and all the intricate systems and cycles that operate in the universe. In all of this God is providing that which His Creation needs in order to prosper. Note the following verses:

He gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields (Job 5:10);

You have made summer and winter (Ps. 74:17);

He sends the springs into the valley; they flow among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst (Ps. 104:10-11);

He causes the grass to grow for the cattle and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth (Ps. 104:14);

The young lions roar after their prey and seek their food from God (Ps. 104:21);

These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season . . . You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust (Ps. 104:27, 29);

You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing (Ps. 145:16);

He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt. 5:45);

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them (Matt. 6:26).

From the above verses and similar ones in the Scriptures, the scope and magnitude of God’s sustenance is understood. Provisions needed by every facet of Creation, both animate and inanimate, are provided by the Lord, and included in this are the various systems that operate, and, by their operation, sustain the created order. For instance, the weather cycle that provides the rain moves from precipitation to evaporation to condensation and then precipitation again. This is just one of countless natural operations that assures the proper functioning of Creation. Surely, man has not fully realized all such systems that are in process sustaining God’s world. Behind all of these is the Sustainer of all.

At times an additional element is added to Providence, that of cooperation or concurrence (concursus), a concept that speaks of God’s working with the creative processes and not contrary to them. Thus, a mutual action between God and His creatures characterizes each occurrence, whether good or evil, with God being the Primary Cause who works through secondary causes.

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