God the Self-Sufficient One

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Revelation 1:8

Think about your needs for a moment. In order to survive, every single person needs food, water, sunlight, and oxygen. Without these basic needs, mankind will perish. On the contrary, God doesn’t need these basic resources for life. In fact, he doesn’t need anything! Acts 17:24-25 explains,“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” Because he doesn’t have a beginning like we do, he is self-sufficient.

Discussing the Self-Sufficiency of God

The exact word used to describe God’s self-sufficiency is his “aseity.” Herman Bavinck, a Dutch Reformed theologian of the late 1800s and early 1900s, defines this term by saying that God “is whatever he is by his own self or of his own self” (Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, 144). God is independent of his creation because he is eternal, whereas all of creation depends on him because he “created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Bruce Ware, a professor of Christian Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, rightfully comments that Genesis 1:1 describes “the eternal existence of God that transcends the entire created and contingent order.” The idea of God having a beginning is never a consideration according to the biblical authors. The Hebrew term for deity (el) automatically makes a “qualitative distinction” between God and his creation, meaning that “God exists eternally by his own will and nature, and his existence is of such a quality as to contain intrinsically every quality in infinite measure” (Ware, God’s Greater Glory, 46-48). When we examine the doctrine of God’s aseity, we must conclude that everything in creation descends from God’s supreme position and absolute authority which is sustained within himself; his position is never under duress. Our God isn’t a “needy” God who is in a frenzied panic if we don’t give him glory, but rather he is the self-sufficient One who, in himself, has all that he needs. He doesn’t need our devotion nor our attention to find sufficient satisfaction. This amplifies his grace all the more. Because of his own infinitely abundant desire, he graciously calls us to himself. What a gift! THIS gives us every reason to worship Him!

How God’s Self-Sufficiency Impacts Our Lives

There is a growing misconception within Christian circles that God needs his people to do his work. This becomes especially prevalent within missionary circles and within the work of evangelism. A.W. Tozer, a well-known twentieth-century theologian, addresses this issue well:

We commonly represent Him as a busy, eager, somewhat frustrated Father hurrying about seeking help to carry out His benevolent plan to bring peace and salvation to the world, but . . . [the] God who worketh all things surely needs no help and no helpers. Too many missionary appeals are based upon this fancied frustration of Almighty God. An effective speaker can easily excite pity in his listeners, not only for the heathen but for the God who has tried so hard and so long to save them and has failed for want of support. I fear that thousands of younger persons enter Christian service from no higher motive than to help deliver God from the embarrassing situation His love has gotten Him into and His limited abilities seem unable to get Him out of . . . A God who must be defended is one who can help us only while someone is helping Him. We may count upon Him only if He wins in the cosmic seesaw battle between right and wrong. Such a God could not command the respect of intelligent men; He could only excite their pity . . . It is morally imperative that we purge from our minds all ignoble concepts of the Deity and let Him be the God in our minds that He is in His universe. The Christian religion has to do with God and man, but its focal point is God, not man . . . That God exists for himself and man for the glory of God is the emphatic teaching of the Bible. The high honor of God is first in heaven as it must yet be in earth.

As Christians, the doctrine of God’s self-sufficiency should be a comfort to us rather than a detriment to our missions and evangelism. Even though we should worry over lost souls and pray vehemently for them that they repent and trust in Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:17; James 5:19-20), we can come to the sweet conclusion that God has called us to be partakers in his efforts by giving us the holy calling of evangelism and missions voluntarily, not out of necessity. He graciously allows our participation in these efforts as means to bring further glory to himself. Christ made the way for us to do so with love and zeal for the Gospel, which means that our anxieties and care can rest in and on Him who bore our sins to fulfill God’s plan of redemption (Matthew 11:29-30; 1 Peter 5:7). God is victorious whether a soul is won for Christ or not. The victory ultimately came through the Cross.

We’re called to rest in his self-sufficiency each and every day; he strengthens us, helps us, and upholds us with his “righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). We can truly find comfort in the truth that he is in control, because he has the power and the authority over the circumstances of life for his glory, his delight, and for our good. We can emphatically pray “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), while resting in God’s aseity. Because God has everything he needs in himself, we can trust in the All-Sufficient One who gives us what we need. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).