December 26, 2022

The Aseity of God

It’s mind-boggling to consider how God can “be” from or of Himself, perfectly adequate for His own existence, essence, and operation.

Hyveth Williams

God doesn’t need you. He doesn’t need me. In fact, He doesn’t need anyone or anything, because He was before we were and will be after we’ve expired. 

When I say “need,” I mean circumstances in which something is essential for one’s well-being and survival. So don’t be misled by incorrect theology in lyrics of popular worship songs such as “What a Beautiful Name.” I cringe every time I hear these words: “You didn’t want heaven without us, so Jesus, You brought heaven down. My sin was great. Your love was greater. What could separate us now?”* 

What? Jesus, who is God in person, appears to be so needy that He is, in Himself, somehow deficient, less than complete, and only we, His people, can fill up what He lacks. 

Such lyrics paint a portrait of a God so desperate for a relationship with sinners that He came down from heaven to earth to eliminate His loneliness instead of to rescue and save us from sin. 

God isn’t dependent on the world for His existence or sustenance. He possesses life and knowledge in and of Himself because He is the fullness of life in and of Himself. He’s not dependent on us for His self-fulfillment. He created us, not because He “needed” us to prevent Him from being lonely, but in order to share His nature, as described in Galatians 5:22, 23. 

The idea or concept of divine aseity (self-existence) is one of God’s amazing attributes. Aseity means “all the glory and perfection of God’s holy being.” It expresses what makes God different from humans and any creaturely thing. Aseity, the theological nickname given to this doctrine, or teaching, about God’s independent self-sufficiency, is an attribute of all three members of the holy Trinity, for God and God alone exists by His own power. 

Many misunderstandings have sometimes arisen over God’s aseity, or independence. It’s mind-boggling to consider how He can “be” from or of Himself, perfectly adequate for His own existence, essence, and operation. Did He cause Himself to be? For, as the absolute first cause of all created things, God is not to be counted among the things that are caused. Thus, if God were caused, He would not be the absolute first cause, for something or someone greater would have preceded Him in being. We are human beings, because we are caused, or created, by God; but He is not caused by anyone or anything. 

“Causing” is an operation that requires the existence of the operator as a necessary precondition, meaning that a thing cannot be the cause of itself in any strict sense of the word. Consequently, God’s nature should be known as simplicity or the condition of being plain or natural, while ours is complexity because of the many parts that often need medical or psychological attention. 

The amazing attribute of aseity is that God is not conditioned by that which is finite, limited, and changeable. He alone is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. Thus, because of His aseity, we should not think of Him as remote or distant from His creatures, because according to Acts 17:28, in Him we live, move, and have our being.