The Sufficiency of God

  • once upon a time, a scorpion needed to cross a pond
  • wondering how he could get to the other side, he notice a frog nearby
  • “Mr. Frog,” he said, “Will you please hop me across the pond?”
  • the kind, gentle frog said, “Certainly, Mr. Scorpion. I will be glad to do so”
  • so Mr. Scorpion jumped on to Mr. Frog’s back as Mr. Frog hopped from pod to pod, bringing Mr. Scorpion to the other side of the pond
  • but just as the frog said, “Well, Mr. Scorpion, here we are,” he felt an excruciating pain in his back
  • Mr. Scorpion had stung him
  • as Mr. Frog lay dying, he looked up at Mr. Scorpion and said, “How could you do this? I brought you from one side of the pond to the other and now you sting me so that I die”
  • Mr. Scorpion looked at Mr. Frog and said, “I can’t help it. It’s my nature”
  • (from Tony Evans, Our God is Awesome)
  • whenever you deal with someone, it’s important to know their nature
  • you could believe you’re dealing with one sort of person, but be mistaken and land in a whole lot of trouble
  • it’s important also in dealing with God
  • there has been a lot of errant teaching on who God is
  • God has been redefined, misrepresented, and dismissed
  • and many people – even Christians – do not adequately understand his true nature
  • it’s possible to live our entire lives based on misinformation about God
  • on the other hand, it’s possible to come to know God as he reveals himself
  • when we know God we can avoid an entire life – in fact, an entire eternity – of confusion and misunderstanding
  • and so it is this morning that we begin to look at some of the attributes of God – aspects of his character that are intrinsic to him
  • we need to understand God’s true nature if we are to walk with him and get to know him better
  • it’s important at the outset to realize that we are finite creatures trying to understand an infinite God
  • John Calvin used the analogy of baby talk
  • he said that God speaks to us in a kind of lisping
  • as parents engage in baby talk with their infant children, so God, in order to communicate with us lowly mortals, must condescend to speak to us in lisps
  • no human being has the ability to understand God exhaustively
  • R.C. Sproul says, “In the simplest Christian truth there resides a profundity that can occupy the minds of the most brilliant people for a lifetime”
  • and he also says, “Even in learned theological sophistication, we can never really rise above a child’s level of understanding the mysterious depths and riches of the character of God”
  • we approach the study of God, therefore, with a great deal of humility
  • (Psalms 145:3) Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
  • Job said:
  • (Job 26:14) And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?”
  • Job said something so profound: as we look at the enormous power of God evident in nature – the vastness of the sky, the clouds that carry large volumes of water over miles, the brilliance of the horizon, and the fury of the sea – as we see these things, they’re just a whisper of God’s overwhelming strength
  • we can’t even comprehend the little we know about God
  • how much more impossible it would be if we understood the full extent of his might!
  • we can never fully understand any single thing about God
  • his greatness, his understanding, his knowledge, his riches, wisdom, judgments and ways – all are beyond our ability to understand fully
  • even in the age to come, when we’re completely freed from the presence of sin, we will never be fully able to understand God
  • because we’re finite and God is infinite, we will never be able to fully understand even one doctrine about God
  • think about it: in heaven after one million years, we’ll still be increasing in our knowledge of God and delighting ourselves more and more in him
  • when people say that heaven is boring, it’s only because they don’t understand that after a billion years there, we’ll still be saying something like David did:
  • (Psalms 139:17) How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
  • (Psalms 139:18) Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.
  • I like what one theologian, Wayne Grudem, wrote:
  • “Even though we spend time in Bible study and fellowship with God every day of our lives, there will always be more to learn about God and his relationships to us and the world, and thus there will always be more to be thankful for and for which we can give him praise.”
  • there’s always going to be an aspect of his nature and character that amazes us and gives us new cause for thanks
  • this is what’s so enjoyable about Bible study and even theology – there’s always something new to discover about God
  • this morning I’d like to focus on an aspect of God’s character that is completely unique to him
  • to find this attribute, we’re going to look at Paul’s words to the philosophers of Athens, in Acts 17:22-25:
  • (Acts 17:22) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.
  • (Acts 17:23) For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
  • (Acts 17:24) “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.
  • (Acts 17:25) And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.
  • in this great passage, God tells us three things
  • the first has to do with God
  • the second and third things Paul tells us have to do with us
  • so put on your seatbelts and let’s find out about one of God’s attributes, and what it means for us
  • THE ATTRIBUTE IS THE INDEPENDENCE, SUFFICIENCY, AND SELF-EXISTENCE OF GOD
  • think about what Paul said:
  • (Acts 17:25) And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.
  • think of it: God does not need us or the rest of the creation for anything
  • God is completely self-existent
  • every effect has a cause
  • but God has no beginning and God has no cause
  • he always was or is
  • God requires no assistance from outside sources to continue to exist
  • it’s almost impossible to imagine anything that isn’t dependent and creaturely
  • there is nothing in our frame of reference that is self-existent – besides God
  • (Psalms 90:2) Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
  • (Exodus 3:14) God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”
  • think about this some more
  • all of us can explain who we are by virtue of the influences in our lives
  • you can tell me about your parents, your friends, the schools you attended, the brothers who beat you up and teased you, the food you ate as a child – all the things that made you who you are today
  • but God has no such explanation
  • no outside influences have ever made God who he is
  • as Tony Evans says, “All that God is he always was. All that God is and always was he will always be. You cannot offer anything that will enhance him, nor can you take anything away that will detract from him. All that God is he is because that’s who he is”
  • as many people will tell you from personal experien ce, loneliness is one of the worst emotions you can experience
  • the staggering reality is that God does not need a relationship with anyone
  • as God is self-sufficient and independent, God didn’t need to create humans for fellowship with him
  • God wasn’t lonely
  • within the members of the Trinity itself there was perfect love and fellowship and communication throughout eternity
  • there was no loneliness or lack of personal fellowship there
  • God doesn’t need to be noticed
  • God doesn’t need recognition
  • God doesn’t need you or me
  • you showed up to worship God this morning at church, and that’s good
  • but if you didn’t show up, that wouldn’t have diminished God one iota
  • he wouldn’t have been any worse off
  • I as your pastor might have been ticked off at you, but make no mistake about it: God doesn’t need you!
  • God has no external needs
  • God doesn’t need us, but we need him
  • Isaiah 40:15 tells us:
  • (Isaiah 40:15) Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
  • there is no one else like God
  • this is a good reminder for us
  • we need to remember that we cannot help God out or hold him back
  • we can’t do God any favors
  • God doesn’t need us to defend him
  • and God doesn’t rely on us for worship and fellowship
  • God doesn’t depend on us; we depend on God
  • but this passage in Acts reminds us of something about ourselves
  • look again at Acts 17:
  • (Acts 17:26) From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
  • (Acts 17:27) God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
  • (Acts 17:28) ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
  • (Acts 17:29) “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill.
  • we don’t just learn something about God; we learn a thing or two about ourselves
  • WE LEARN THAT WE ARE DEPENDENT ON GOD’S SUFFICIENCY
  • in God we live and move and exist
  • there is no such thing as and independent man or woman
  • every breath you take is contingent on God allowing you to exist
  • Paul says that we cannot know ourselves apart from God
  • we cannot understand ourselves – who we are, why we were created, where we are going – we cannot understand any of this apart from God
  • Paul goes so far as to say that in God, we live
  • in God, we move
  • in God, we exist
  • God appointed the day we were born, and God has appointed the day we will die
  • it’s humbling to realize that the next breath you take, the next movement you make – it’s all contingent upon God
  • you can refuse to believe in God, but he is still God
  • you and I can refuse to obey him, and we can curse him, but God will still be God, and we will still be creature
  • God is responsible for all we see around us, and yet he is completely independent of it
  • he can do whatever he wants
  • we are utterly dependent on him
  • all that we are is a result of what he is
  • the last point that I want to make from Acts 17 is this:
  • WE FIND OUR COMPLETENESS ONLY IN GOD
  • in a recent Hollywood movie, a woman’s dream was to be able to say to a man, “You complete me”
  • in a sense, we’re probably looking for other people to complete us: to meet our needs, to give us a sense of wholeness
  • but only God can do this
  • only God can complete us
  • once we are aware of our own existence, we begin to learn that we can’t find meaning within ourselves
  • we can only understand ourselves as we begin to know and understand God
  • the meaning of our lives, our dignity are at stake
  • either we are alone and insignificant – cosmic accidents, if you will, who will one day disintegrate into the abyss of nothingness
  • or we are created by God, invested by him with dignity, and created to enjoy a relationship of love with him
  • once we understand who we are and how God completes us, we find that we were created with a purpose, we have a destiny with a purpose, and therefore we have a meaningful life
  • as David wrote:
  • (Psalms 8:3) When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
  • (Psalms 8:4) what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
  • (Psalms 8:5) You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
  • the miracle in all of this is that a God who is all-sufficient, chooses to fellowship with us, and that he chooses to complete us
  • God does not need us for anything, yet he chooses to delight in us and to allow us to bring joy to his heart
  • the God who is self-sufficient and who needs no-one has voluntarily chose us to make us significant in the most ultimate sense
  • thinking back to the scorpion, that’s God’s nature
  • two thousand years ago, Paul stood in front of some skeptics and philosophers and told them three things:
  • God is completely self-existing and self-sufficient
  • we aren’t
  • and we can only find our completeness in God
  • this morning I invite you to bow your heads and come to God, worship him for his power and self-existence, and bow and ask him to complete your life as he has promised to do

Adapted in part from Our God is Awesome by Tony Evans

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Liberty Grace Church in Toronto. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada