The Independent God
To know God is life’s greatest pursuit. It is a command! You are to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Mat 22:37 ESV). “Theology” is the study of God or the science of God, and since we are commanded to love God with all our mind, I believe the discipline of theology is a life requirement. Systematic Theology is one way to know what the Bible teaches about God, His works, His purpose for His creation and His commands. Systematic Theology covers all the major topics of the Bible by bringing together or systematizing all the relevant Biblical information on each subject.
Wayne Grudem defines Systematic Theology as, “Any study that answers the question, ‘What does the whole Bible teach today?’ about any given subject.” Theology Proper is one doctrine examined in the study of Systematic Theology. Theology Proper is the study of God.
Included in Theology Proper is a consideration of God’s attributes. Attributes are, “essential characteristics of God’s nature.” God’s attributes or perfections are usually divided into two categories, incommunicable and communicable.
God’s communicable attributes are His perfections that are more shared with His creatures. Attributes like love, wisdom and truthfulness for example. Of course, our love, like all the rest of the communicable attributes, is but a mere shadow of God’s love. But we are able to love.
God’s incommunicable attributes are those perfections of God that He does not communicate with His creatures. These include immutability, eternality, omnipresence and the like.
Let’s focus on one of God’s incommunicable attributes for a moment. This perfection is aseity. The English word “aseity” is from the Latin a se. It means “from himself.”
In Exodus 3:14 God, responding to Moses’ question, declares “I AM WHO I AM.” Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck understands this declaration to mean, “I will be what I will be.” From this title he defines aseity as, “God is what he is through or by his own self.”
R. C. Sproul wrote, “The ultimate difference between God and other beings lies in the fact that creatures are derived, conditional, and dependent. However, God is not dependent. He has the power of being in and of Himself; He does not derive it from something else.” This is the attribute of aseity.
The Apostle Paul said, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything” (Act 17:24-25 ESV). Our God is a se. God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything.
On the other hand, we are totally dependent on God. Paul told the crowd gathered at the Areopagus, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Act 17:28 ESV). Every moment of every day He, ‘gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Act 17:25 ESV). And the Lord Jesus “holds everything together” (Col 1:17 GW)
A. W. Tozer wrote, “[Christianity] has put God on charity. So lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy, not to say enjoyable, to believe that we are necessary to God. But the truth is that God is not greater for our being, nor would He be less if we did not exist. That we do exist is altogether of God’s free determination, not by our desert nor by divine necessity.”
The proper study of theology is not merely an academic exercise. The apprehension of our God must lead to worship. This relationship is beautifully expressed in the chorus of the song Behold Our God.
“Behold our God seated on His throne.
Come, let us adore Him.
Behold our King! Nothing can compare.
Come let us adore Him.”
A proper and growing knowledge of God will lead to greater love and worship of the Lord God Almighty. How great is our God!
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England: Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1994), 17.
Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics (Baker Academic, 2008), 2:151.
Sproul, R.C.. Everyone’s a Theologian: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Kindle Locations 1051-1052). Reformation Trust Publishing.
“Tozer Devotional | God Needs No Support,” accessed October 19, 2018, https://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer?id=1335.
“Behold Our God,” Sovereign Grace Music, n.d., accessed October 19, 2018, https://sovereigngracemusic.org/music/songs/behold-our-god-who-has-held-the-oceans/.