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Article: The Self-sufficient One

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Nick P.

Many an article I have written but this will be one of the more difficult one as this time I am going to be dealing with the nature of God and I find the deeper more one goes into theology the more one runs the risk of heresy, saying that which you ought not to have said.

It happened in my Systematic Theology class last Thursday as the professor was discussing creation. Now our professor is generally a good and godly man but on this point I had to disagree and while silent after awhile, the laptop I had with me for writing notes was typing furiously in a philosophical discourse against what was being said.

The point was that it was not good for man to be alone in creation. We all agree upon this if we believe the Bible. Man needed fellowship. However it was said that man was made in God's image and could this not point to a need for fellowship on God's part?

Our professor had told us to hear him out if we ever disagree and then raise my hand. I waited and raised my hand and brought out the point of C.S. Lewis and Ravi Zacharias that God has perfect fellowship within himself in the Trinity. I was told I was jumping ahead.

He covered that but I do not really recall how for he did not change his view. God created man because he needed fellowship. I chose to remain silent but I have been dwelling on this thought and the outcomes of such a thought.

To begin with, God is self-sufficient. It was Ravi Zacharias who when applying for ministry under the denomination he was affiliated with at the time received a test from them that started out, "God is perfect. Explain."

I like his response that the only more difficult question he could think of would be to define God and give two examples. He answered it by saying, "God is the only being in existence, the reason for whose existence lies within himself." All other beings look for the reason for their existence outside themselves. God is perfect in that sense alone. He doesn't need a cause.

Might we also remember that God is immutable. Scripture affirms in Hebrews 13:8 that Jesus is the same forever. Even from the very pen of Moses Psalm 90 affirms that from everlasting to everlasting he is God. His very name means that he doesn't change.

Now God and time is also a part of this enigma. For when creation begins time is implicitly involved. In the beginning, implies a beginning. Augustine was asked what God was doing before creation. He would comically reply at times "Making Hell for people who ask that question." but he would also seriously say that it is a nonsense question. There was no such thing as before because time had not been created. In the beginning, time was also created. How can I explain this? I really cannot understand it. I do know that God acts within time but he is beyond time and this must be held as I will come back to this later.

Let us go to the fellowship point. God has always had eternal fellowship within himself within the Trinity. However, if the point is true that God needed fellowship what does this say about the Trinity?

For one, it says that God grew bored and to become bored would mean that at one time God was not bored and this would be a change. Now to change from one thing to another would also mean that God was in time for we could say that before this God was this but now he is this. But God is immutable.

Also, it would make Scripture a lie for in John 8:29 Christ says that he always pleases the Father. This would be to say that at one time the Son no longer pleased the Father and the Father needed to create man for fellowship. This would also imply that Christ cannot provide perfect fellowship. If he cannot do that, then can I trust him with eternal fellowship?

Psalm 16:11 says God has everlasting pleasures in his right hand but how can I believe this if God cannot bring pleasure to himself? If God's pleasures grow old over time are they really everlasting pleasures?

There is also the problem that God is dependent upon man in this case. If God truly needs us, then the wise thing for man to do would be to pull their resources together and say, "Alright God. You give us what we want and we'll give you what you need." In effect, man could hold power over God.

This God I think would be more akin to pantheism. The creation and the creator need each other. God is eternally self-sufficient though and even without the creation he was still self-sufficient.

C.S. Lewis said that man no more diminishes God by refusing to worship him than a madman darkens the sun by writing darkness on the walls of his cell. The point is well true. If God needs fellowship, how many people does he need for fellowship exactly? Is there a point when fellowship is reached and God becomes complete? If this is so, it would mean he was not complete to begin with.

If this God can change, then he is not God. All beings that have ability to change are brought into existence by another. They are contingent upon another for their existence. I am reminded of Anselm's argument that God is the greatest being you can imagine. Which is greater? A God with needs or a God without needs?

The point in class was raised though that if God didn't need man then why did he create them knowing they could also go to Hell forever? Would this truly be an act of love as it is often put?

The argument fails to understand love though. God gave man in the garden the choice to love him or not and how man responded would not diminish God or alter him in anyway. Our nation of America was founded so people could have freedom to worship. We did not start by building jails but we created the possibility for people to abuse freedom.

Also, by Anselm's argument, existence is by far better than non-existence and the creation of Hell itself is an act of love. For man to be with God forever who he would despise and hate would be evil for that man. God gives the man what he desires. The man who goes to Hell desires to be in a world where he is in charge.

It was Peter Kreeft who said that the number one song in Hell will be "I did it my way!" It has also been said that pride is the number one religion in Hell. Materialistic Humanism will find its ultimate fulfillment in Hell. It is not God's character that is brought into question by Hell but it is what is affirmed. The affirmation is that God is holy and we are to be as he is. This cannot be done without his Son.

Let me state at that point that while I am saved I realize like Paul that I am nowhere near perfection. In fact, the more I ponder on such a topic the more inadequate I feel to write upon it because I know I have many shortcomings in my own life but it was Dostoevsky who said there had to be an afterlife to fulfill the commandment to be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect for we could surely never reach it in this life.

God needs nothing. He doesn't need you. He doesn't need me. Christ said "Apart from me you can do nothing." He did not end, "Apart from you, I am a very lonely deity so please worship me." We are dependent on him. He is not dependent upon us.

When we come to Christ, we have nothing, we give nothing, we can do nothing. We can do nothing to please God. We cannot meet any desire of God. We cannot make God complete. It has been said that you cannot get something for nothing. What is more amazing is not that from God we get something for nothing but we get everything for nothing.

We come with our soul. Our soul is like the broken pieces of the potter's shop in Jeremiah 18. The shards we bear in our soul deserve to be tossed like trash for trash they are but instead we offer them and are given everything.

Worship then is not for God's benefit. God will not be slighted if we do not worship him. When God offers love, it is not he that hurts if we decline his offer but it is we who hurt. We are the losers in the deal.

Picture for instance if Bill Gates came to you and offered you a million dollars for nothing. He has enough money, if you do not accept, you will lose out. If you do accept though, he has not really lost anything. You are the one who is blessed.

Our whole being reaches its potential in worship. In Heaven, we will eternally be at this full potential. C.S. Lewis again said one of the saddest things in Heaven was that Lucifer was surrounded by all that was good and right there and thought only of his own prestige.

We will not be like that in Heaven though for we would have all chosen to be there. We will meet the ultimate fulfillment of our desires for if our desires cannot be met by this world then they must surely be met by a world to come.

In Heaven, man will find his full potential reached. He will find perfectly fulfilled worship. Heaven is a reward described for the benefit of man and not for God. Man will be benefitted by Heaven. God will have fellowship he may desire from us but it is not a need.

We must make it clear that desire is not equal to need. I am a single man and I would very much desire to be with a charming young lady. However, that is not a need. I will not perish if I do not have this desire met.

There are also other levels. One may need food but one may desire a chocolate bar instead. God may have desires but he does not have needs because he has all fulfilled within himself in the Trinity. There alone is everlasting fellowship. That fellowship brings everlasting joy.

One day, it will bring everlasting joy to us if we believe. Perchance now it is time to realize that we come to God with nothing and are nothing but he loves us anyway. Perchance one might still wonder why God created. Love is the only answer I can think of.

Can I fully explain this? I cannot but I think having no explanation really is better than having an explanation that contradicts evidence. I do not know the methods God used to create this world but I do know that I don't accept theistic evolution.

I do not accept theistic evolution because I find the evidence for evolution lacking and rather than accept a theory I don't believe is true, it is best to say, "There is a way and though I do not understand it entirely I will leave it at that."

I cannot fully explain the creation. I do know though that God does not need for from everlasting to everlasting he is God and he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I will leave with the same reply. Love. Can I explain it? No. But I will leave it at that and in eternity, perhaps I will understand or perhaps even the explanation is too great for me to ever understand. Let us leave it at that.

Comments? Suggestions? Thoughts? Questions? (Insults were due yesterday.)

God bless

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