Our Independent God – October 23, 2020

As Americans, we love our independence. It’s the foundation of our country. We even have a document which declares we are free and independent. While this is true in some ways, no one is truly independent. We are all dependent on other people and other things for our existence. This, however, is not true with God. He is independent from everything.

What do we mean by God’s independence? God’s independence means that “God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation can glorify him and bring him joy.”[i] Theologians also label this attribute as self-existence or aseity. Sometimes we view the creation narrative as though God created all things and mankind because he was lonely. As though he was incomplete without us. But we must understand that God does not need us. Paul addressed this in Acts 17:24-25 – The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

Further, this means that God exists in and of himself. He does not need anything else for life. All of creation could cease to exist and he would remain. He is not dependent on human hands or mortal man. His being is not affected by any events in creation. He is independent from it all. The 11th century theologian Anslem commented, “[God] has of himself all that he has, while other things have nothing of themselves. And other things, having nothing of themselves, have only their reality from him.”[ii]

This also means that God is totally unique. Since God is independent from all creation, there is nothing in creation like God. The difference between God and his creation is vast because he exists in a fundamentally different order of being. This means that God must exist in a greater and more powerful way that everything else. This means that we cannot project any imperfections onto God. God is wholly different from everything.

Yet, God invites us to him for his glory. While God does not need us in any way, he wants us to come to him. We are meaningful to God. Isaiah 43:7 indicates that God created all things for his glory. Revelation 4:11 informs us that all things were created for God’s pleasure. This means that God actually delights in his people. We bring him pleasure.

Consider Isaiah 62:3-5:

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
    and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
    and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
    and your land Married,
for the Lord delights in you,
    and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
    so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
    so shall your God rejoice over you.

God needs nothing else. He exists independent from everything. Yet, God has assigned value and significance to us. To be assigned value and significance by a being which needs nothing makes us significant in the ultimate sense. You have value because God assigned it to you. Nothing in the created world can change that. No trial, no mistake, no failure, no sin can change your value and significance. Because God remains independent from all those things. You matter because God says so.

[i] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1994), p. 160.

[ii] Anselm, On the Fall of the Devil 1 (Major Works, 194).