Monday, April 3, 2017

Reflections On What Makes God, God - i.e Divine Aseity - And Why It Matters To You

Image result for divine aseity
Isaiah 43:10-11 “You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. 11 “I, even I, am the Lord, And there is no savior besides Me.

Introducing Divine Aseity (A-say-i-tee)

When you read through Isaiah 43-44, you find celebrated a characteristic of God that is unique to Himself - a trait that Bible teachers call "aseity" (a-say-itee). I like to think of this eternal quality of God as being "God's Godness" or "what makes God - God". Theologian Dr. R.C Sproul writes concerning God's Divine Aseity: 

"When we affirm that God is eternal, we are also saying that He possesses the attribute of aseity, or self-existence. This means that God eternally has existed of Himself and in Himself."

God's Divine Aseity (from two Latin words: "a" and "se" meaning "from oneself") refers to God's uniqueness and independence from the rest of creation. Unlike everything else, which derives its existence from God (whether the universe, galaxies, people, animals, plants, and so forth) - God is His own source of His own life. The universe itself is dependent on God, since it was He who spoke it into existence (Genesis 1:1-2; Psalm 33:6). Theologians throughout the centuries have pointed to particular Biblical texts that express God's Divine aseity, such as Psalm 90:1-4; 102:25-27; Isaiah 40:28-31; 43:10-11; 44:6; John 5:26 and Revelation 4:10.

Why God's Divine Aseity is so important 
The modern classic book on the doctrine of God by J.I Packer, "Knowing God", lays out the practical and profound reasons why Christ-followers ought to include God's aseity in their everyday lives:

"In theology, endless mistakes result from supposing that the conditions, bounds, and limits of our own finite existence apply to God. The doctrine of his aseity stands as a bulwark against such mistakes. In our life of faith, we easily impoverish ourselves by embracing an idea of God that is too limited and small, and again the doctrine of God’s aseity stands as a bulwark to stop this happening. It is vital for spiritual health to believe that God is great (cf. Ps. 95:1–7), and grasping the truth of his aseity is the first step on the road to doing this."

Below the reader will find four life-practical reasons for focusing on God's Divine aseity.

1. Aseity is the essential starting place for the worship of God

To begin, Divine Aseity is important for the worship songs we commonly sing. One of my favorite hymns that celebrates the Aseity of God is the song "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." The lyrics of the hymn begin as follows: 

"Come thou fount of every blessing Tune my heart to sing Thy grace Streams of mercy never ceasing Call for songs of loudest praise". 

How do great songs of worship like this hymn rely on God's Aseity? The fact that God is described as a fountain means that He is His own source of blessing. We are dependent on God for everything and celebrate the Triune God of scripture that alone is our source of life and eternal life. A fountain of water feeds itself in producing a beautiful stream of water to be enjoyed by all who look upon it. Likewise, God's Aseity refers to all that we see of Him flowing outwardly from within the kind of God he is: eternal, self-sufficient, infinite, holy, immaterial, changeless, uncreated and many more attributes expressed in the Bible. There is God. There is everything else. The universe and all it contains is not even a footnote in comparison to the vast aseity of God. 

The Apostle Paul's burst of worship in Romans 11:36 assumes Divine Aseity: "For from Him and to Him and through Him are all things. To Him be the glory for ever and ever, amen."

2. Aseity is essential to understanding God in His Word

Another reason we could cite as to why God's Aseity is so important is in how the revelation of Himself to us in His Word requires Him to possess this quality. Isaiah brings out three main titles of God: Savior (Isaiah 43:3), Creator (43:15) and King of Israel (43:15). As you read these chapters, you find a repeated phrase that speaks of God's Aseity - namely that God is the only Lord, and there is no other, neither before nor after Him. (Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6-8).  God's Aseity insures that God is the sole source of salvation, the sole source of all things as Creator and the Sole King over His people.

3. Aseity is essential to waging war on worldliness

Isaiah then contrasts God who is Aseity to that of man made idols that are not gods at all (Isaiah 44:9-20). Quite the opposite of Aseity is the fact that idolatry is foolishness, since men take blocks of wood or stone and take half for firewood and half to make an image.  Those false gods cannot save, only condemn. 

Furthermore, idols cannot create but only destroy and they cannot reign but only be worthless. The idols that we combat are those idols that come up in our hearts. Whenever we begin to think that God or Christ is not enough, and that we need to "supplement" He and His word, we have drifted into the realm of idolatry or worldliness (1 John 2:15-17). Only when we see God in His Aseity do we realize the lie of sin, that nothing can fully complete except God alone.

4. Aseity is essential for the work of salvation

Only the God that is Aseity, the God that is His own Source of life and eternal power, can redeem and forgive (Isaiah 43:10-11;44:21-28).  For example, when you turn to Colossians 2, you discover two essential truths about Jesus Christ: He being truly God and truly man. Take everything you just learned about God in Isaiah 43-44 and apply it to the Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ, touching His Divinity, shares the same exact qualities with the Father, being the "fulness of Deity in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9). 

The Son shares in the same nature of aseity as the Father, meaning He can be regarded as the Savior, Creator and King (Colossians 2:10-11). Equally important is the fact that the Son came to begin sharing in our humanity, meaning He could now die for our sins and raise from the dead (Colossians 2:11-15). By being both truly God and truly man, Jesus Christ's saving work carries with it infinite value and is effectively applied to all who by grace through faith believe on Him (Colossians 2:1-7).

Closing thoughts:

Celebrate God's aseity. Praise Christ today for His aseity - the quality that makes Him an equal sharer with the Father and the Spirit and thus the source of your salvation. Also praise Him that He came to share in your humanity so that He could shed His blood for you and rise from the dead.