The Attributes of God – Self-existence

Yesterday my family and I considered the self-existence of God, His not needing anything outside of Himself, in our after breakfast Bible reading time. Because the book that we’re using in our family reading, Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994), calls it “independence” instead of “self-existence,” we used that name for it in our consideration of it. However here I’ll use its traditional name.

Some passages asserting that God doesn’t need anything from mankind or the rest of his creation include:
– “Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine” (Job 41:11, ESV; all Bible quotations are from the ESV).
– “I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:9-10).
– “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 anthing, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24-25).

The God’s self-existence reminds us that He wasn’t created but always was. Some Bible passages indicating this are:
– “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14).
– “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2).
– “You created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

It has been suggested that God made angels and humans because He was lonely and needed fellowship with other beings. If this were true, it would mean that He needed them. However the doctrine of the Trinity implies that there has been fellowahip among the persons of the Trinity throughout eternity. Jesus indicates this in His prayer to the Father after the Lord’s Supper when he refers to “my glory that you have given to me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

However, as Grudem points out, God’s self-existence doesn’t make our existence meaningless. We (and the rest of creation) can glorify God and bring Him joy. In Isaiah He describes His people as those “whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made” (43:2) and says that “as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you” (62:5). He doesn’t need anything from us, but He delights in us.


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