Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Some Thoughts On How Divine Aseity Gives Understanding To Christian Identity And Biblical Manhood

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Isaiah 48:11 “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another."


In the last post we explored God's Divine Aseity (A-say-i-tee). To grasp once again this core trait of God's Aseity, I quote from the great Christian scholar and defender of Biblical Christianity, Dr. William Lane Craig: 

"When we come to the subject of God’s self-existence that we’ve been looking at, we can say that the Scripture clearly teaches that God is uncreated and independent of anything else. Everything other than God depends upon God for its existence, whereas God depends upon nothing." 

In today's post I want to consider how focusing on God's Divine Aseity can greatly clarify God's identity and its relationship to Christian identity. This study will offer a starting point for considering how true Biblical manhood can be sculpted by considerations centered-on God. Specifically, we will see how Christian men (and women of course) can benefit from focusing upon this incredible quality of God's Divine Aseity.

How Divine Aseity is core to God's Identity

Isaiah 48 and 49 are among some of the greatest chapters in the Old Testament to get a glimpse into the Triune identity of God. Isaiah 48:1-11 has the Lord affirming the Oneness of His being, namely that He and he alone is God, and that He does not share His glory with another. In fact as we have been noticing the past couple of days, the phrase "I am the first, and I am the last" and other phrases like it affirm the Oneness and uniqueness of God in His Aseity (a-say-i-tee). 

To remind the reader again, God's Aseity refers to how He is independent and His own source of life and existence. Bible teacher John MacArthur comments on Divine Aseity in his exposition of John 5:26:

"But now when you talk about His self-existence, you’re talking about the essence of His nature. One is eternality, two is equality, three is essence. His self-existence is critical. Through the years, this has kind of been an abstract idea, kind of left in the back waters of theology and theologians have a word for this, they call it the aseity of God … a-s-e-i-t-y, the aseity of God, very obscure term but it means the self-existence of God."

MacArthur continues on: 

"What does it mean that He is self-existent? It means in simple language, go down to verse 4, here it is again, four words. I told you John’s economy of words is stunning. “In Him was Life.” In Him was Life.” John 5:26 says it again, that in God is life and in the Son is life. This is an amazing statement. Life not bios, not just physical life, but zoe, the biggest, broadest term for all kinds of life. And what it’s saying is this. Life was in Him. What do you mean by that? Well look at it from a negative standpoint. He didn’t receive life from any from any other source. He didn’t develop life from some other power. This is self-existence. He wasn’t given life, He didn’t receive life, He possesses it as an essential of His nature. In Him was life."

All things, whether people, angels, rocks or stars depend on God for their existence or life. God however is different and is the only Being who is self-sufficient, meaning then that He alone can Create, Perform Salvation and reign over all things. As was already noted in previous posts, Divine Aseity is what defines God as God; aseity is God's "Godness". 

Men in particular need a fresh, powerful appreciation of Divine aseity

This trait is important in Isaiah's overall argument against idolatry and the worldliness that was stealing away the hearts of his people and which still attempts to grab hold of our hearts today. Men in particular prize the thought of self-sufficiency. The autonomy of humanity is a major by-product of fallen man. God alone is self-sufficient. Whenever a man tries to "do it all on his own" or "be the lone-ranger", emotional, spiritual and relational burnout in marriages, jobs and life result. As a man myself, I constantly have to battle that tendency to be a "lone-ranger" and see my own insufficiency. Asking help from others and being immersed in a Christian community (i.e the local church) reinforces this notion that we as creatures are dependent on outside sources, and God alone is sufficient in-an-of-Himself.

Men in the Bible who were transformed by the revelation of God in His Divine Aseity

When we scan the scriptures in both Old and New Testaments, we find God revealing Himself to men to effect change in their lives and to clarify His calling to them. Think of Moses for example. In Exodus 3, we find God revealing to Moses His very Divine name that is centered around Divine aseity - namely "I am who I am" or Yahweh, Jehovah. Moses' life and character was radically changed as a result of that encounter, resulting in a catapulting of him into leadership and service to God. 

Other Biblical characters could be mentioned: Abraham, David, the 12 Apostles and the Apostle Paul. A moments reflection and further study of the relevant Biblical texts will show how much Divine aseity can transform a man into a man of God. We can of course apply all that has been said to the women of the Bible such as Sarah, Hannah, Mary and Martha. 

Mankind's purpose is to know God and he derives His purpose from God

Mankind was originally designed to be a being in relationship with others. In marriage, men are to relate to their wives. As fathers, the man is to consider his children's needs above His own. Then of course, the Christian man must remember that he derives his identity and sense of being from God. Manhood is best cultivated in the context of relationships.

God in His own unique way expresses His very essence by the inter-relating of the Three Persons of the Godhead. This One God identifies Himself in a plural way in Isaiah 48:16 as the One who was sent by the Lord God, along with the Spirit of God. Though only brief, the passage gives us a glimpse into the three-fold identity of God that is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

Applications for understanding Christian identity and Biblical manhood in light of God's Divine aseity

As we close out today's post, I want to suggest the following life-practical applications of Divine aseity to understanding Christian identy in general and Biblical manhood in particular:

1. God's Divine Aseity means we as dependant creatures are accountable to Him.

Knowing that we are accountable to Him in both this life and the one to come ought to affect how we treat fellow Christians, those outside the faith and prompt us to encourage everyone for Jesus sake. 

2. God's Divine Aseity means that God is sufficient and that without Him, we are insufficient.

Divine Aseity reminds me that Jesus is All-sufficient and that you and I by ourselves are insufficient. Christian men ought to take notice. The Lord and His word is the norm by which we live in an otherwise abnormal world that is dying and in need of Jesus Christ. 

3. God's Divine Aseity means God, rather than culture, is the norm by which we ought to live.

Culture attempts to conform men to its image apart from God. Jesus Christ, though sharing fully in the One Divine nature with the Spirit and the Father, still shares in our humanity. He by His Spirit urges us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to love His Father with all our hearts, souls mind and strength. (Matthew 22:37). 

4. Divine Aseity reminds us that apart from God, true manhood cannot be grasped, since the eternal Son took unto His Person a truly human nature

Without God, true manhood cannot be grasped. Afterall, the eternal Person of the Son chose to unite to His Person a truly human nature by which we could behold true humanity and true manhood in action. 

Closing thoughts:

May we ever depend upon our Master in heaven, upon whom we depend for everything that pertains unto life and to godliness through His word (compare 2 Peter 1:4-11).