Paul and Providence (11)
God has a plan. Some call it providence. Providence is the outworking of God’s good plan. We are told elsewhere that God is “working all things together for good…” Exactly how God does this is beyond us. How God has programmed our DNA is just being discovered by science. How enzymes and amino acids form proteins and how proteins form cells and cells fashion themselves into thousands of parts and organs is a marvel. Likewise, for the believer, God is doing a great work in our salvation in making us conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
There is science and then there is conscience. While one need not be against the other, conscience is more important. Conscience is the “still small voice” God has left as a remnant in the midst of man’s sin-ruined soul. Conscience cannot save, but like the Law, it can warn us about moral dangers that lurk all around us.
Conscience and religion can both be corrupted. Paul stood before the High Priest and was smitten in the mouth for speaking of his conscience. Only God should be above our conscience. We should never give our conscience to religious leaders, governments, cults or causes. Only Christ has the right to be Lord of conscience.
Having said that, Paul was conscious of God’s providential leading. Paul’s awareness of God’s plan and will for his life gave him immeasurable courage. Paul was visited by the Lord the night before he was to be arraigned by his enemies. Paul was the subject of a vast conspiracy to have him killed. It is sufficient here to say that no one, no thing, no weapon formed against God’s servant will prosper in thwarting the plans of God. As David put it. “A thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come neigh thee.” If God told Paul he would be a “witness at Rome also,” nothing could stop that. Woe to the man or army that would try to stand in the way of the chariot wheels of God’s providence.