God is the source of all reason and morality, humans can only go so far afoul of God’s standards before the consequence of His perfect being silences them and squashes them. This makes ultimate ethical standards fixed, not subject to the changing winds of culture, not situational, or an expedient maxim for determining our next selfish impulse. The moral order of the universe is tethered to a perfectly moral God and all ethical understanding bears the imprint of His character. Which means, that if I am going to experience growth in righteousness, sanctification in my behavior, then it can only happen in the pursuit and chase of God. Christians do not improve themselves by working on themselves. They grow in grace and righteousness by drawing closer to the creator, whose spotless morality is a necessary feature of His being.
“The Christian is either strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God.” – A.W. Tozer
As John Calvin once said in the Institutes, all wisdom comes from the knowledge of God and the knowing of self. Between the two, the most needful knowledge of all is certainly the knowledge of God. Without this knowledge, we cannot even know ourselves. Which means, if we are not familiar with who God is, we cannot know who we are, and we will be doomed to repeat our confusions forever.
This teaches us something very instructive. To know anything rightly at all, anything under the sun, we must know God truly and rightly. We must know Him as He is, which cannot be done exhaustively by any stretch of the imagination. We may try peering down into the celestial caverns of His maximal infinitudes, straining to comprehend increasing degrees of knowledge, but, we will never understand the LORD as He understands Himself. We cannot and will not.
Yet, in spite our limitations, God in His grace has allowed us to understand Him truly. He has allowed us to gain real knowledge, while not omniscient, is true and accurate to who He is. That is what we are aiming at today.
Like all of the attributes of God, we will learn something about Him as we endeavor to study them. Take for instance, God’s holiness. In that great doctrine we learn that God is of such immense purity and otherness, that His presence is dangerous to us (Isaiah 6:5) without the help of a mediator. As we study God’s love, He begin to see the limitless reservoir of His care for His covenant people (1 John 4:16). In His wrath, an oft avoided attribute of God, we see both His holiness and His care wed together in perfect fury against the rebellion of man (Romans 1:18). Quite simply, His attributes teach us who our God is and allows us to behold Him in truth.
This is especially important, when looking at unfamiliar attributes, or the ones we may have trouble understanding, such as the aseity of God. It may not seem essential, however, to the average believer, to study such an ethereal doctrine with such an esoteric title. But to the degree that a Christian understands the aseity of God will be to the degree one may know Him. Thus, as all of His attributes behooves us to study, today we will narrow our focus onto His Aseity, not to gain more knowledge to store away in the head, but to gain the more of Him. To know Him better, to love Him more passionately, and to serve Him more faithfully.
What is the Aseity of God?
When theologians talk about the Aseity of God, they are speaking about His independence. Unlike every other contingent being who is dependent upon causation to come into existence, God needs none of that. He exists because He determined it to be so. He is in need of no outside force or will to create Him, or sustain Him, He does those things timelessly for Himself, which put Him in a class all by Himself.
This is precisely why the Christian Church may sing on Sunday morning: “there is no one like our God.” Because, when we do, we are acknowledging the clear and obvious fact, that nothing in heaven or on earth can rival Him, nothing is His equal, He has aseity.
This fact alone is enough to make our hearts leap in praise and to sing of His matchless power, which is the goal of all theology. Theology was never intended to produce a class of lifeless nerds who pine away in libraries. Theology was meant to produce musicians, composers, congregations of voices shouting to our God, with pastors at the helm leading the worshippers to Zion. But, there is still so much more!
Five Additional Aspects of Aseity
1) God’s Aseity is Foundational
Among all of God’s attributes, it can be argued that aseity is fundamental. This is because it is the attribute that serves as the cornerstone for understanding all of His other attributes (like His love, mercy, grace, and justice). Think about it this way, if God were a contingent being like you and I, having both an origin and a cause, then all of His attributes would be subject to the same limitations as ours. He would be beholden to space and time and His attributes would have limits placed upon them that could be exhausted, overridden, or resisted. Along with that, a “god” who is subject to limitation – of any kind – is also capable of change, whether that means change in time such as decay or death, or change in space such as changing allegiances, motivations, or goals. With that it is simple, the only way you get a God, who is perfect in love, maximal in mercy, inexhaustible in benevolence, unlimited in kindness, immutable in regard to change, or insatiable in divine fury and justice is if that God has no cause and derives His existence from Himself alone. He must be free of any temporal constructs such as beginnings, middles, and ends. And He must be free of any limitations upon His person and instead able to perfectly and forever sustain Himself from within Himself. To say that differently, your God must have aseity in order to love you perfectly and to save you truly.
Exodus 3:14; Psalm 90:2; John 5:26.
2) God’s Aseity and Necessity
The attribute of aseity not only positions God as self-existent and independent but also reinforces the notion that His existence is essential and necessary. In philosophical terms, God is not a contingent being (one that might or might not have existed), but a necessary one – His existence is a fundamental aspect of all existence. This means that God is not an optional or accidental being, but rather one whose existence is mandatory for all reality. To say that most simply, He must necessarily exist for anything else to even have the possibility of existing.
This necessity is also crucial in understanding other attributes of God and why we see these attributes alive and manifesting in the world. For instance, His love, justice, and grace are not contingent characteristics that merely result from His will; they are necessary characteristics and essential parts of His nature. God’s love is necessary and eternal, without which there could be no love in the world.