A friend, Jim, called from the tarmac at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. No “hello,” just a “What is the difference between God’s sovereignty and God’s providence.” I recognized his voice. He was thinking about this because of a comment Dr. R. C. Sproul had made on Renewing Your Mind . Well, I knew there was a difference, but I was busy preparing for hurricane Isabel, so I told him I’d get back to him. Let’s first look some quotes.
Sproul, Chosen By God, p24, “When we speak of divine sovereignty, we are speaking abolut God’s authority and about God’s power. As sovereign, God is the supreme authority of heaven and earth. … All other forms of authority exist by God’s command or by God’s permission. Sproul, The Invisible Hand, p15, “providence” describes the activity of God. P16, “…refers to God’s provision for His people,” P17, “He looks after human affairs … He not only watches us, He watches over us. Westminster Confession of Faith, V/1, “God the great Creator of all things does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.”
So, in short, God is sovereign over all. And one way that He exercises His sovereignty is through His providence, being directly and immediately involved in our affairs for His own glory.