nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:25 ESV)
Our God is totally unlike us. His holiness proves the wide gap. He is infinite in His perfects, immutable in His character and decrees. Simply put, God is God.
One of the attributes of God that gets passed over in many of our minds (and hearts) is God’s self-sufficiency. The verse above is getting at that. The Triune God of the Bible needs nothing from us. He does not lack. He does not experience loss. He is not acted on by external factors. Instead, His perfections are the source of everything else. They all had their beginning in the mind of the only Eternal One, the Sovereign Creator of the universe, the Alpha and the Omega.
God’s self-sufficiency is contrasted with the neediness of the “gods” of the surrounding nations. These gods had to be carried and taken care of, fought for and tended to. Not so with the God of Israel. This is the God who saves those who wait on Him (Isa 64:4). The God of the Bible cannot be carried and will not be served by human hands.
Far from discouraging our worship and obedience, God’s self-sufficient glory drives all of our affection and action in “service” to God. Here are three ways that God’s self-sufficiency serves His glory and our greatest good.
2. Our Salvation
That God doesn’t need us is extremely good news to those who have come to see themselves as we really are – weak, sinful and needy. All other religions require people to do well enough to commend themselves to God. Their “gods” always need their help in this way. But God has saved us completely on His own. Our sin was against Him and yet in His great, free love He chose to save us in such a way that points to His glory alone. Man is not left to help himself. The Bible paints too honest of a picture for that to be the case. Salvation, the gospel, is man debasing and God-exalting. This God who does not lack lacks nothing in His ability to save.
God’s love is free in this way. If God saved because He lacked something would be less than God. He would have to save us in order to fulfill something lacking within Himself. But our God has existed in perfect exuberance forever. It is this God who has saved sinners; not because He needed to, but simply because He wanted to. The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve by giving His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). God freely gave His Son because of the love with which He loved us, all motivated that the glory that He had known before the foundation of the world might be enjoyed by His people. This is extremely good news to those dead in sin and unable to save ourselves. We do not meet a need in God but God wonderfully fulfills every need that we have in Christ.
God allows us to have our greatest need met: to be saved from sin and brought to see His glory as our highest good. This is why the world was made. God alone is worthy, and out of an overflow of His perfection, He created the universe to be an arena for His holiness to go public.
Man’s chief end is the worship of God as He is. God is glorified in the praise of His people. Our lives are lived in worship, not because God needs it but because He is infinitely worthy of it. Our need is to see and savor the glory of God in Christ. We when gather as a local assembly, we come not just to give glory to God but to receive fresh sight and enjoyment of the glory of God. Our lives explode with satisfaction as God lifts Himself up before the eyes of faith, His glory being our highest joy. We glory in the self-sufficient God with all of the praise our hearts can muster.
It has become common to hear people say we are “co-laborers” with God to bring about His purposes on earth. There is a grain of truth in that. God uses means and in His grace He allows us to be those who testify to the gospel of the blessed God.
But what we are in danger of missing is the fact that God is the one completing the work. It will be done. Our role, then, is less of working together with God and more testifying to the work of God in the world. It is God who saves. Our job is to proclaim the saving message of Christ crucified for the sins of the world. This emboldens mission. When we see that it is God that will build His church, we are able to stick with the ordained means for that to come about. It removes tremendous pressure when we see that we cannot “bring the Kingdom.” The King alone can do that. As citizens of the Kingdom, we point others to the King and His saving work.
Missions exists because worship doesn’t. The purpose of the self-sufficient God is to satisfy a people for Himself with Himself. It may seem more man-centered to say that God serves us. The exact opposite is actually true. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. God does not need humans to make Him glorious. He magnifies His own worth by meeting our greatest need: Himself. God is God-centered by being God-centered. In doing so, He works for our greatest good.