1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 5.3 The Freedom of God

Table of Contents

The Text

Ephesians 1:9-10 (CSB) He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ as a plan for the right time — to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.

The Chapter

God, in his ordinary providence maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them at his pleasure.

The Confession


Acts 27:31–44 (CSB) Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” Then the soldiers cut the ropes holding the skiff and let it drop away. When it was about daylight, Paul urged them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have been waiting and going without food, having eaten nothing. So I urge you to take some food. For this is for your survival, since none of you will lose a hair from your head.” After he said these things and had taken some bread, he gave thanks to God in the presence of all of them, and after he broke it, he began to eat. They all were encouraged and took food themselves. In all there were 276 of us on the ship. When they had eaten enough, they began to lighten the ship by throwing the grain overboard into the sea. When daylight came, they did not recognize the land but sighted a bay with a beach. They planned to run the ship ashore if they could. After cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and headed for the beach. But they struck a sandbar and ran the ship aground. The bow jammed fast and remained immovable, while the stern began to break up by the pounding of the waves. The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners so that no one could swim away and escape. But the centurion kept them from carrying out their plan because he wanted to save Paul, and so he ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to follow, some on planks and some on debris from the ship. In this way, everyone safely reached the shore.

The God of details of all logistics of the providence. But what about the actions and events. We know that God is the first cause of all things and even when we sin against him, his first cause still caused the good and evil without being responsible for the sinful action of the rebels of God.

Genesis 50:20 (CSB) You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.

The death of the firstborn of Egypt? God.

The shipwreck of Paul's ship? God.

The fact that God created my dad to take part in creating me but this same dad abused me and introduced to pornography at a young age? Yet, my dad and stepmom and mom and grandma planned evil against me but God planned it for my good to bring about my born-again life.

I promise you: if I have gone through the trauma that I had not went through, I would not be in love with God as much as I am now. I would not desire to see his lovely face. I already know that I will kiss the face of my Savior with a thousand kisses because he has called me his own and saved me from his wrath. And I am here to praise him with my life and to do his will.

I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.

Charles Spurgeon.

Listen to what I am saying. Never did I say that deep love for God came easy nor cheap nor fast. God took all of eternity and over 2000 years and my lifetime to do what he wanted to do in order for me to be with him forever.

I have no formula for you. I have no to-do list for you. Just know that God loves you and whatever you are going through, watch and believe what God has in store for you for your good and the love of others.

in his ordinary providence maketh use of means

Isaiah 55:10–11 (CSB) For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so my word that comes from my mouth will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.”

What makes the gospel even more amazing is that it is just a series of words. A few sentences. A small paragraph. A defining statement.

God saves sinners.

Romans 1:16–17 (CSB) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.

We know that the salvation of God is amazing thing. But look how God chose to convey that good news: a few words.

Not miracles. Not healings. Not signs and wonders. Not visions. Not dreams. Not angels. Not demons. Not the dead rising. Not the blind seeing. Not the lame walking. Not the deaf hearing. Not good works. Not loving your neighbor. Not a worship song. Not a big revival event. Not a charismatic leader. Not a big church. Not a small church. Not any of that but a few words.

The gospel is the power of God in salvation for those who believe. Those words about the gospel that is the power of God in salvation for those who believe.

When you or I ever share the good news, that is the Almighty power of God who says, "so my word that comes from my mouth will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do."

Couple that with Matthew 4:4 where Christ called the Scriptures "the mouth of God" and what you hold is the ordinary words being proclaimed. When we do this, God does the work. He does the work and executes the power and the gospel will never come back empty.

yet is free to work without

Hosea 1:7 (CSB) But I will have compassion on the house of Judah, and I will deliver them by the LORD their God. I will not deliver them by bow, sword, or war, or by horses and cavalry.

I think what is even more fantastic that anything else is that if God chose to not use anything he has ever created, he can still bring it about. For:

Hebrews 11:3 (CSB) By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

God, who is Almighty and all-knowing and ever-present, created everything by speaking into existence. He didn't need raw material. He created the raw material. He didn't need blueprints or detailed instructions for he knows all things and he cannot know more nor nor less no learn anything because he knows everything. He did not have to shift or find the perfect time or place to create Creation for he just determine what was the right time and place for what he wanted to do.

Out of nothing.

What God wants to do, he can do it without or with anything or anybody.


Romans 4:19–21 (CSB) He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do.

Whatever God does in and through us, he does from above our sins and our understanding. For:

Psalm 97:9 (CSB) For you, LORD, are the Most High over the whole earth; you are exalted above all the gods.

His perspective on all things is above all things and from all angles and all times. He does not miss a thing and what he does is always right and good and perfect.

and against them at his pleasure.

Daniel 3:27 (CSB) When the satraps, prefects, governors, and the king’s advisers gathered around, they saw that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men: not a hair of their heads was singed, their robes were unaffected, and there was no smell of fire on them.

We see a description of the fantastic things that God has done: signs, wonders, and miracles. They do not happen often--they are done "at his pleasure." But our faith is not in the signs, wonders, and miracles. Our faith is in the God of the signs, wonders, and miracles.

There is going to be a time where you and I face certain death. And at God's good pleasure, he might spare our life or let us die. If he does either from means or does not, he is still entirely good. Even if we don't understand all the way or at all, he is still kind and loving towards us.