Many people misunderstand what Calvinists believe. The Westminster Confession can often be very helpful in clarifying Calvinist beliefs and that is the case this week.
Some people think that Calvinists teach that because God is the first Cause for all things, that means that there are no other causes. This article firmly refutes that belief by stating the opposite. Although God is the first Cause, yet He in His providence He causes things to occur by means of second causes. This plays itself out in a variety of ways. It can be through things like physics and chemistry or it can be through human decision and action. Often, it’s through a combination.
If someone drops a cup of scalding hot coffee on you, we can say several things. For example, we should say that God in His providence is the first Cause. We may also say that this unfortunate occurrence was caused by the fact that the person holding the coffee wasn’t paying attention. We can further say that the cup fell because of gravity. Lastly, if you have a sinfully angry reaction, we can say that your reaction was caused by your decisions, which were prompted by the coffee falling and causing you pain, which happened because of someone’s clumsiness. All of these second causes are not negated, but are rather established by the providence of God and His acting as the primary Cause.
This means that God is the primary cause behind everything that happens to you. The cup of coffee that was spilled on your lap—as well as all the contingencies like gravity and heat—were divinely ordained to burn you and cause you discomfort for God’s glory and your good, if indeed you are His child. This is good news because there are no accidents and there is no such thing as chance. God doesn’t have to work miracles to give you grace, rather He causes all causes and He causes them in such a way as to work for your good.