The Attributes of God (Part Two)

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14 NIV).

God is self-existent. God “has life in himself” (John 5:26). This means that he is absolutely independent of all other being. There is nothing that he depends upon for existence. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else (Acts 17:25). God often is called “the living God”, which brings out this characteristic (Deuteronomy 5:26; Joshua 3:10; 1 Samuel 17:26; Psalm 42:2; Isaiah 37:4; Jeremiah 10:10; Matthew 16:16; Acts 14:15; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 6:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; Hebrews 3:12; 10:31).

“The ground of God’s being is not in others, for there is nothing more ultimate than himself. God is uncaused, the one who always is (Exod. 3:14). To ask who caused God is to ask as self-contradictory question in term’s of Jesus’ view of God. Another term conveying the concept of God’s self-existence is ‘aseity’. It comes from the Latin a, meaning from, and se, meaning oneself. God is underived, necessary, nondependent existence” (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, p.453). “God’s self-existence means that he is not answerable to us or to anybody, and we don’t like that. We want God to give an account of himself, to defend his actions. Although he sometimes explains things to us, he doesn’t have to and often he does not. God doesn’t have to explain himself to anybody” (Boice, The Sovereign God, p. 128).

Since God is self-existent, he is also self-sufficient. God does not need anything in or from creation. Instead, God chose to create and to preserve and to direct what he created for the praise of his glory (Romans 11:36). This means that God does not need worshipers, helpers or defenders. God is self-reliant. In contrast with God, humans are created and dependent. We must rely on God for everything (Acts 17:25,28).

This, like everything other attribute God, should cause us to humble ourselves in his presence, as Job did when he realized God’s majesty (Job 42:1-6). We serve the very independent God. He needs nothing from his creation. “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them” (Romans 11:35 NIV)? Admittedly, this is difficult to comprehend, because even those who boast of their self-reliance and freedom are dependent on others. The supposedly great rulers of the earth must rely on others for protection, food, and assistance. For example, the President does not pilot Air Force One; he does not go anywhere without Secret Service agents around him. A rich woman might have money, but she can’t eat unless someone supplies her food in one way or another. Who makes their own clothes? Even if they do, they’re not making all the components necessary to make clothes. We are pitifully dependent. The next time you lose power, and I’m not wishing this on anyone, you will discover your dependence on electricity. I cannot write these blogs unless I have electricity, the internet, and some form of computer. We are shockingly dependent. We ought to humble ourselves before the living God.

So then, let us praise God for his surpassing greatness. God doesn’t need us, yet he calls us to draw near to him, to experience his love, compassion, joy, and peace, which flow from the overflowing fountain of his self-existence and self-sufficiency. Let us praise the living God!

Grace and peace, David