Chapter Five: “The Self-existence of God”
“‘God has no origin,’ said Novatian and it is precisely this concept of no-origin which distinguishes That- which-is-God from whatever is not God. Origin is a word that can apply only to things created. When we think of anything that has origin we are not thinking of God. God is self-existent, while all created things necessarily originated somewhere at some time. Aside from God, nothing is self-caused.” (pg 25)
God is the “Uncaused Cause”, or the “Uncreated One”. If you say that God created everything, then you’ll want to ask: “Then who or what created God? Where did God come from?” Or, if you don’t believe in God, you still have to ask: “Where did the universe come from? The Big Bang. Okay, but what caused the Big Bang?”
As soon as we start trying to figure out eternity, we will frustrate ourselves. “If God already existed forever before He created the universe, why did He wait forever to create the universe? But if He waited forever, then He’d still be waiting wouldn’t He?”
We want God to fit into our understanding, and into our scientific processes, but He refuses to do so.
“Yet how He eludes us! For He is everywhere while He is nowhere, for ‘where’ has to do with matter and space, and God is independent of both. He is unaffected by time or motion, is wholly self-dependent and owes nothing to the worlds His hands have made.” (pg 26-27)
God has no origin.
“To think steadily of that to which the idea of origin cannot apply is not easy, if indeed it is possible at all. Just as under certain conditions a tiny point of light can be seen, not by looking directly at it, but by focusing the eyes slightly to one side, so it is with the idea of the Uncreated. When we try to focus our thought upon One who is pure uncreated being we may, see nothing at all, for He dwelleth in light that no man can approach unto. Only by faith and love are we able to glimpse Him as he passes by our shelter in the cleft of the rock. ‘And although this knowledge is very cloudy, vague and general,’ says Michael de Molinos, ‘being supernatural, it produces a far more clear and perfect cognition of God than any sensible or particular apprehension that can be formed in this life; since all corporeal and sensible images are immeasurably remote from God.'” (pg 26)
So at this point we can all agree that it’s not possible for our finite minds to understand God who is infinite in His existence as an uncreated Person. Then why bother to waste time on studying this concept?
“It is not a cheerful thought that millions of us who live in a land of Bibles, who belong to churches and labor to promote the Christian religion, may yet pass our whole life on this earth without once having thought or tried to think seriously about the being of God. Few of us have let our hearts gaze in wonder at the I AM, the self-existent Self back of which no creature can think. Such thoughts are too painful for us. We prefer to think where it will do more good – about how to build a better mousetrap, for instance, or how to make two blades of grass grow where one grew before. And for this we are now paying a too heavy price in the secularization of our religion and the decay of our inner lives.” (pg 27)
“…because we are the handiwork of God, it follows that all our problems and their solutions are theological. Some knowledge of what kind of God it is that operates the universe is indispensable to a sound philosophy of life and a sane outlook on the world scene.” (pg 27)
We strive to attempt to understand the nature of God (even though we know we will fall very short of accomplishing that) because we are not pragmatists in our relationship to our Creator. The solutions to all our problems will be directly tied to who God is.
“For this reason the self-existence of God is not a wisp of dry doctrine, academic and remote; it is in fact as near as our breath and as practical as the latest surgical technique.” (pg 28)
“Man is a created being, a derived and contingent self, who of himself possesses nothing but is dependent each moment for his existence upon the One who created him after His own likeness. The fact of God is necessary to the fact of man. Think God away and man has no ground of existence.”
As humans it is sinful for us to be selfish, since when we are selfish we expect everyone else, including God, to put us at the center of the universe. Only with God is selfishness a good thing. God demands that all creation looks to Him, and worships Him–the greatest gift that God can give is Himself.
“…in God, self is not sin but the quintessence of all possible goodness, holiness and truth.” (pg 29)
God is the only one who depends on no one to exist. Every created thing depends on God, moment to moment, to sustain their existence.
“The natural man is a sinner because and only because he challenges God’s self hood in relation to his own. In all else he may willingly accept the sovereignty of God; in his own life he rejects it. For him, God’s dominion ends where his begins. For him, self becomes Self…” (pg 29)
“(Man) is willing to share himself, sometimes even to sacrifice himself for a desired end, but never to dethrone himself.” (pg 29)
As we sit on the throne of our own lives even our good works are nothing more than an extension of our own selfishness. The only solution is to acknowledge that we are nothing more than a breath of air (Psalm 62:9; Psalm 78:39; James 4:14), and are not, in any way whatsoever, capable of sustaining our own existence–only God can do that, and He does not share that ability with anyone. We must acknowledge that we sit on a stolen throne, and be willing to do whatever is necessary to set things right.
“However painful, it is precisely this acute moral consternation that produces true repentance and makes a robust Christian after the penitent has been dethroned and has found forgiveness and peace through the gospel.” (pg 30)
“To save us completely Christ must reverse the bent of our nature; He must plant a new principle within us so that our subsequent conduct will spring out of a desire to promote the honor of God and the good of our fellow men. The old self-sins must die, and the only instrument by which they can be slain is the Cross. “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,” said our Lord, and years later the victorious Paul could say, ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.'” (pg 31)
Below are two teachings by Dr R C Sproul on the law of causality, and self-existence. They are two of many teachings Sproul gives in a series on Apologetics called “Defending Your Faith”. I highly recommend downloading and listening to that entire series. Also if you like philosophy I also recommend downloading Sproul’s series “The Consequences of Ideas”.
The Law of Causality from harleyandmakara on Vimeo.
Self Existence from harleyandmakara on Vimeo.
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