Remember from last week that our course is titled The Sovereignty of God and…the incommunicable attributes of God The definition for incommunicable attribute means an attribute that is privileged to God alone So tonight we are going to study the attribute of God known as self-sufficiency And in doing so we will attempt to answer the following questions
Self sufficiency of God Definition of the sufficiency of God - God possesses within himself, intrinsically and eternally, every quality in infinite measure. Another way to say it - God has no need for anything outside of who God is, in and of himself. God needs nothing apart from himself, for he possesses every quality within himself. God has this attribute intrinsically but we possess our attributes derivatively in that we had to get them from someone else. God possesses all His qualities by nature: It is God’s nature to be good, loving, holy, just and beautiful
God possesses these qualities eternally – there was never a time in the past and never a time in the future when He won’t have these qualities. God possesses these qualities in infinite measure which means there are no limits or restrictions to His love, wisdom and justice. Is it redundant for us to ask the question about God possessing these qualities intrinsically? The answer is that it is NOT redundant and here is why. Because it is possible to possess something intrinsic within that is not intrinsic to you. Something extrinsic to you but you take it inside of you because you need it. Example: Breathing air Well, is this in fact what the Scriptures teach us about God?
Turn to Psalm 50 Background – Israel is on trial and God is acting in the role of both judge and prosecuting attorney who is charging them. God is holding Israel accountable before His bar of justice. God is talking about the people of Israel and those who have practiced the sacrificial system that God has put in place. These are what I am calling the set up verses: God is calling heaven and earth to bear witness His people are on trial and God is judging them So we need to know – “What is the charge that God is bringing against His people?” READ Psalm 50:4-6
Read Psalm 50:7-12 Ask the question – “What in the world is going on here?” God first tells the people of what they are NOT guilty of. They are not guilty of failing to bring sacrifices before Him because He says that they are doing that. God says – you are bringing your bulls and male goats from your field So Israel might ask – “So what are we doing wrong?” You told us to bring sacrifices and that is exactly what we are doing, we are bringing our sacrifices. However, Israel is evidently doing this with the same mindset toward sacrificing that we common to those pagan nations that were surrounding them.
The pagan nations around Israel believed that their gods were needy. They thought that the gods got hungry literally and therefore they would bring a sacrifice to their particular god to eat and then be satisfied. When the tummy of this god was full then he would bless those who fed him. This is probably the religion that occupies almost 2/3s of our current world. Illustration – a person I know went on a missions trip to Madagascar and discovered that those there are big on ancestor worship. People spend time doing whatever the deceased grand father liked to do. So what picture does this paint for us about God? As we sacrifice these things to Him we are helping Him out and contributing to His needs. It’s a good thing that we are here because if we weren’t He would lack.
Go back to verse 8 – The problem isn’t their sacrificing but their thinking about sacrificing Do you see the problem? These Israelites are worshipping God as if He were needy, and they are going to give in order to help Him out. Application for consideration: How many people in the evangelical church think this exact same way? In the giving of their tithes and offerings Going to the mission field Serving in a particular ministry There is an underlining thinking that to this degree – poor desperate, poor hungry, poor helpless God and I am going to save the day with my gift, sacrifice, service and life.
And God says to that type of mindset – Don’t give it! Read Psalm 50 verse 13 – Question – Is that what you think I am doing, eating flesh and drinking blood in order to satisfy My hunger? Did you not understand what I said in verses 10-12? Verse 14 – What does thanksgiving imply, in terms of relationship to God? We are the total recipients of His gifts and He is the Giver! God says you think you are offering in order to help me out? No, instead offer me a thanksgiving.
God is communicating to us in His word I am the Giver You are the receiver I am the full One You are the empty one I am the wise One You are the foolish one I am powerful You are weak Read Psalm 50:14-15 and get the order right 1. You are to call upon me – God is the rescuer, helper, strong hold, rock, refuge, provider, protector, shield, 2. And then it says – He will rescue you because we are weak, needy and helpless
Turn to Isaiah 40:12-17 – Still under the attribute of the self sufficiency of God In verses 12-13 you have rhetorical questions which means the answers to the questions are obvious that you don’t have to give the answer. Look at verse 12 – and look at all the metaphors and think of these images Do you know anyone who is big enough to scoop up the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean in His hand? How big is God? Illustration Going to the beach and grabbing up all the water in your two hands and seeing what difference it really makes.
So what is the picture of God here? 1. He is big 2. He is powerful 3. He is immense Lesson for the grandkids someday – if I scoop all the water in the ocean in my hands you can’t tell anything. But can you imagine God who can scoop up all the water in His hand.
Illustration #2 God marks off a span, which is the distance between you thumb and little finger. Think of it light traveling at 186,000 miles per second and it takes approximately 7 minutes to get to us from the sun to the earth. The next closest start is 4 and ½ years from the time it leaves the star to planet earth and by the way this is our next door neighbor which is the Milky Way Galaxy. When you look at the stars on a clear night almost every star you see is in the Milky Way Galaxy of which there are about 10 billion stars and those are the ones in our neighborhood. Separated by an average distance of about 10 light years spanning out across this Milky Way Galaxy.
Which begs the question, how many Galaxies are out there? The Hubble telescope still finds more and more but it seems as though there are millions upon millions more spread out across this universe. And they are hundreds of thousands of light years away – so who do you know that can mark them off between His thumb and little finger? Who could possibly do this? Answer – only God So how big is God?
Then the next image – who do you know who can calculate the dust and weigh the mountains ranges of the Rockies and the Himalayas on a scale? God is so great, so powerful and so huge that He can do this with no problem Verse 13 – A shift in the topic – it is no longer the bigness and enormous nature of God but instead it is His knowledge and wisdom What is the answer to these questions – Who has taught God? Who has advised God? Answer - No one God doesn’t need any advice because He already knows it all Illustration – Contrast this with a President who takes office and states that he will have no advisors but himself. What would we say about a President like that? We would say that he is a fool.
Folks we need to remember this image of God when we pray and we need to pray like the Lord Jesus. How did He pray? Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name! Father God you are separate and above all creation in Your wisdom, supremacy, and majesty! And then we pray that by the Spirit we might get in tune with the will of God, this is not a will we are trying to shape but one that is already established. Jesus praying in the garden, not My will but Thy will be done! God needs no advisors because His wisdom is flawless !
Can you imagine all the problems in the world and God doesn’t need help from anyone! The nations – all of our collective prowess and military power, technological advancements, wealth, wisdom, and all the resources that we have are but a drop of water in a bucket or a speck of dust on a scale to God. Imagine if someone from a campground is bringing back a bucket of water from a stream and they only spill one single drop. What would you say? Basically they didn’t spill anything and surely it would not be even noticed.
Illustration: Nancy goes to the deli to buy a couple of pounds of ham and the butcher is getting ready to weigh and price it and the lady says “wait a minute.” And the man says what is the problem and she says there is a speck of dust on the scales. What is the point of these images? Just keep reading – we were a speck of dust but look at Isaiah 40:17 now we are down to nothing and keep reading, the nations now are less than nothing! Trivial Inconsequential – they don’t matter or even make a difference So we need to be careful here and think and meditate on what this really means. Are we to take this as meaning that God doesn’t care about the nations?
Turn to Acts 17:24-25 Paul is in Athens, which was the religious center of the world at that time. They had represented in their city all gods and it was as polytheistic as one could imagine. The irony is the one God they didn’t know was the true and living God. Main point of these two verses – God is self sufficient How could it be possible for God to need anything in creation when He gave everything for creation to exist. There is nothing that God needs! Illustration – teaching that Jesus died for you and since He died for you what are you prepared and willing to do for Him. And we grow up with this attitude that the tithe is God’s and everything else is mine You must stay in position as receiver and God must be the giver!
<ul><li>So what are we to do about a doctrine that says God does not need us? </li></ul><ul><li>Nor does God need: </li></ul><ul><li>Our worship </li></ul><ul><li>Our gifts </li></ul><ul><li>Our service </li></ul>
Because God is infinitely and eternally full, rich, joyous, and satisfied…because God is fully self-sufficient, consider these implications: #1 - God does not need the glorious creation He has made, either in part or in whole, including His creation of human beings. As humbling as it is true, God does not need any of us. (Isa. 40; Acts 17:25) #2 - God does not need anything from us; he needs no help, no gifts, no service, no fellowship (Acts 17:25). Though He commands our obedience and calls us to service, He need nothing that we have to offer. #3 - God cannot receive anything from us that is not previously, rightfully, and entirely His and His alone (Acts 17:25; Jas 1:17). In fact this is so much the case that God is both dishonored and offended when we approach Him as if He needs what we have to bring Him as we can give Him something that He lacks (Ps 50).
# 4 - Every good and perfect gift, necessarily, is from God and God alone. Imagine this: there is no true thought, no good work, no discerning word, no talent, no ability, no gifting that is not from God. For every quality that exists in creation, and in your lives and mine, is there to the scope and to the extent that it is, only because God, in His grace and kindness has granted this to us. While God possess all that He has - all that there is - intrinsically. In contrast we have what we have - all that we have - by what is derived by us from God. We owe Him everything for all that we have and enjoy. #5 - God alone is worthy of all honor, glory, praise, adoration, love, devotion and worship (Isa 42:8; 1 Cor. 10:31)
The questions in our study of the self-sufficiency of God Why are we here? What is our purpose? Why does God demand our obedience? Why does God enlist our service? Why does God call us to pray? Why does he require our worship?
Why are we here? What is our purpose The answer is NOT that God was lonely and needed fellowship. Rather in relation to His people, the answer is this; though He doesn’t need us, He loves us, and His purpose in creating and redeeming us is NOT that we might fill up some lack in Him, but that He might fill us up with Himself. HE made us empty to be filled with His fullness, thirsty to drink of the water of life, weak to receive His strength, foolish to be instructed and corrected by His wisdom. In His love, He longs to give, to share the bounty. He wants us to experience in finite measure the fullness of joy and blessing that He knows infinitely - all to redound to the praise and glory of His name, the Giver and Provider of all the good we enjoy!
Why does God demand our obedience? Because He loves us and wants our best, and because He knows that our only true joy is found when we follow in His ways. Therefore He demands, yes demands that we obey Him. His commandments lead us to life. That is, His demands are given as from a Lover. C.S. Lewis says concerning the commandments of God “Those divine demands, which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted.”
Why does God enlist our service? Psalm 100:2 and Acts 17:25, how do we put these together? He doesn’t need our service, so His call for us to serve is a call to participate in the privilege and joy of the ministry of grace that flows from Him and into us, and then into the lives of others. We can take no credit. All we have is a gift from Him and He gives us what we have to be used in service to others. God is so shareful! He is so generous! Rather than just doing the work unilaterally, He devises a plan by which He intends that some of His work be done in and through others, by calling and equipping and using them. We have absolutely no basis for boasting before God or others. Human pride is utterly shattered; it is devastated, when we understand in the depth of our soulds the infinite and intrinsic fullness that is God’s alone for all eternity.
It not only is not about us; it is not of us, or from us, or because of us! All that we are, every quality that we possess; all that we have, every good and worthwhile characteristic and every ability, both in its kind and in its degree are all gifts to us from God. We can’t take credit for anything we ever are or do.
Why does God call us to pray? Does God benefit from our prayers? Does He learn new things? Think of it Matthew 6, in light of Jesus telling us not to worry since the Father already knows what we need, you might thing that he’d teach regarding prayer “don’t bother.” But God invented prayer as a tool, a mechanism, for drawing us close to Him, in sensed dependency, trust, hope, faith, love, longing, anticipation. It is for relationship-for our relationship with Him.
Why does He require our worship? It is our highest duty to worship God alone, for in Him alone is the fullness of infinite perfection. (Isa. 42:8; 1 Cor. 10:31) It is our greatest delight to worship God alone, for from Him alone do we receive the fullness of everlasting joy and satisfaction. (Isa 55:1-3; John 15:11) It is our ultimate destiny to worship God alone, for to Him alone are we drawn to know the intimacy of His glorious presence. (Isa 11:9; John 17:24)
In Conclusion: Marvel at the glory of God’s self-sufficient fullness; be humbled by the glory of God’s self-sufficient fullness; find your true joy and satisfaction in the glor of God’s self sufficient fullness; and love, obey and worship God to the glory of God’s self-sufficient fullness.