Q. 11. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.
(Click here for a great Q&A over at Reformed.org)
Let me suggest there are two simple premises to sound theology.
First, that God wills perfectly. What He has decreed with happen, without any doubt, down to the seemingly-random casting of lots (Prov 16:33). His promises are more dependable that the sun rising in the East, or the rising temperatures of summer.
Second, that Man sins willfully. By this we mean that man sins in what he does, for by nature and by deed, we are hell-bent on rebellion against our Creator. Some of our deeds are obviously sinful, at least to most: when a man murders another, for example, in violation of the sixth commandment (Ex 20:13). Others are more subtly sinful, for they benefit our fellow man instead of harming him: when we donate to the local children’s hospital to our own glory instead of His (John 3:19-21). Sinners sin, and in no ways can they glorify God in their actions, for they do not seek His glory: none ever has (Rom 3:9-11). Either a work is done of faith by one who loves Him, or it is sin. We recognize with Christ that sins differ in their extremity (John 19:1-11), but we all follow our father, Adam, consistently, and we act in accordance with our hearts.
Beyond these simple truths we need to develop our ideas precisely, and with an eye toward the consequences of our ideas. We should move slowly. We must work outward from the Word alone, allowing Scripture to speak to us while not allowing our culture to speak through Scripture. This is difficult to do, even for the very wise, but the Spirit indwells us if we are his, and God above has given us the writings of many wise men who came before us. It is possible for us to know, and in so knowing, to obey, and so increase His glory within our land.