April 07, 2015

The Independence of God

I would like to briefly introduce you to a doctrine: the independence of God.  This characteristic of God falls under what theologians typically refer to as His attributes, or perfections. This is a beautiful truth, the eternal independence of God. In simplest terms it is this: God depends on no one to exist, because He and He alone has always been.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.- Genesis 1:1 (ESV)

Here, in the very first line of the Bible, we behold something amazing: In the beginning, God was already there. In the beginning, He created. Which means, before the beginning, He existed. He exists outside of, apart from, independent of that which He has created.

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”  God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” - Exodus 3:13-14

If one is familiar with the Old Testament, you will recognize this scene. God speaks to Moses from a burning bush, and tells him to return to Egypt to lead God’s people, the Israelites, out of slavery in Egypt and into the promised land of Canaan. Moses is terrified at this prospect, and is looking for any way out, so he says (I paraphrase), “who am I going to tell them sent me?” God says, “I am who I am.” God needs no reference point to anyone other than Himself. He is the ultimate reality. All others things receive their existence downstream from His ultimate existence.

We see an interesting new light thrown on this in the New Testament.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58

In the beginning God. I am who I am. Before Abraham was, I am. God is self-existent, predating creation; Jesus makes clear in this passage that as God, He is the one who has always been. Because He and the Father are one (John 10:30), this attribute of independence applies to Christ Himself. It is an attribute of the entire Godhead.

We see this again in Revelation 4:8, where we read the following,

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

This matters. As the only eternal being, we again see that God is not only one who existed before creation, but also that He is not dependent upon any part of His creation. In Acts 17:24-25, the Apostle Paul says the following,

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.

He is the one who gives it; He does not depend upon you or me. Why did I call this truth beautiful, why would we think this is good news? Brothers, sisters, a God who needed us would be a small God indeed! However, the Scriptures reveal to us a God independent of us, who creates us and cares for us not out of compulsion or need, but out of volition. Out of love.

Note: This is altered from a section of a lesson I wrote for the Absolute Curriculum, which you can view here.

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About Me

Follower of Jesus. Husband of one. Father of four. Pastor at Remsen Bible Fellowship (remsenbible.com).