Interview with

Founder & Teacher,

Audio Transcript

God is all-sovereign, all-powerful. And he is all-happy in himself. He lacks nothing. And he wants things from us. So, does he need us or need what we can give him? Matthew is trying to put these pieces together in his email to us today. “Pastor John, hello and thank you for your ministry,” Matthew writes. “Early in your wonderful book Providence, on page 43, you talk about how God has full glory. We don’t give him any glory he doesn’t inherently possess already. What God creates is never essential to God. That seems to be the point of Acts 17:25. So, we ascribe glory to God, ‘the only God,’ and we ascribe that glory to him ‘before all time’ — before creation even existed (Jude 25).

Considering this, does this mean if we glorify God by enjoying him, we can say that he created us not because he needed anything from us, but that he created us solely to share in his delight of delighting in himself? In other words, God’s self-delight in himself seems to have nothing to do with his neediness, but it is the greatest gift conceivable to the creation! That God is self-sufficiently happy, in himself, is the best news in the world for us to hear. Am I following your line of thought here? If so . . . wow!”

Wow, indeed. And Matthew is following me.

  1. God is self-sufficiently happy in himself.
  2. God created us not because he needed anything from us. He has no needs, no deficiencies.
  3. He created us so that we would share in the delight that he has in himself.

On those three points, he’s tracking perfectly with what I think and what I believe the Bible teaches. As Jonathan Edwards put it, “It is no deficiency in a fountain that it is prone to overflow.” But what Matthew is really following here is not so much me as the Bible. So, let me try to sum that up.

Self-Sufficient God

We read in the Bible that God the Father says he loves the Son with pleasure. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). God the Father takes pleasure in God the Son. And in John 14:31, the Son says, “I love the Father.” So, in the fellowship of the Trinity, there is an eternal mutual love — not the kind of love (this is so important to get) that loves in spite of defects, the way God loves us, but the kind of love that is only delight. The Father and the Son find in each other the totally satisfying reality of a perfect, all-glorious God.

“The eternal happiness of God in God is the foundation of our eternal happiness in him.”

In 1 Timothy 1:11, Paul refers to the glory of our happy God: makariou theou, “blessed God.” It’s not the kind of blessedness that is translated “praise” or “honor,” but rather “happy,” the same as in the Beatitudes — the “happy God.” It belongs to God’s nature from eternity to be perfectly happy in the fellowship of the Trinity. That’s the foundation of saying he has no needs. He did not create us to meet any needs or to make up for any deficiencies.

Act 17:25 says, “[God] is [not] served by human hands, as though he needed anything [How clear can that be? He doesn’t need anything], since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” Mark 10:45 says that the Son of Man did not come into the world to recruit servants to meet his needs. “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

And Psalm 50:12–15 says,

If I were hungry [God says], I would not tell you,
     for the world and its fullness are mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
     or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
     and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
     I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

That’s the glorious dynamic of God’s self-sufficiency. Did we notice, as we heard Psalm 50, that in that text (and in Acts 17:25 and in Mark 10:45) the effect is such good news? The effect of God having no needs — that is, being self-sufficient — is the basis of his meeting our needs. That’s the glory of talking about this.

In other words, God’s self-sufficiency is the basis of grace, the overflow of grace, which is why Paul says in Ephesians 1 that everything is done to the praise of the glory of his grace (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). Because grace is the apex. It’s the highest point of God’s God-ness. He spills over. His self-sufficiency is the basis of his grace, his love.

Glorifying by Enjoying

Now, I think we need to just pause and let that sink in, Tony, because I think a lot of people hear us — you, me, Desiring God — talk about God’s self-sufficiency, and they feel like we’re dealing in some high-level, obscure, irrelevant, theological speculation about the nature of God that has no bearing on our daily lives. Good night! How absolutely wrong is that?

When the Bible speaks of God’s infinite, ultimate self-sufficiency, it ties it together with God’s being a generous, gracious, overflowing, need-meeting God. So, in Acts 17:25, the fact that God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything” leads to this: “He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” And in Mark 10:45, the fact that “the Son of Man came not to be served” leads to this: “[Instead, he came] to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” And in Psalm 50:15, the fact that God doesn’t need to be fed by anybody else leads to this: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you.” And that next phrase in Psalm 50:15 ties it together with the glory of God. It says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

In other words, the giver gets the glory. The one who meets the needs of others gets the glory because it shows his overflowing fullness. When Isaiah 43:7 says that God created us for his glory, it means God created as the overflow of his fullness, the overflow of his greatness, his beauty, his worth (we call it his glory), so that his glory would be our all-satisfying treasure. That’s how you glorify an infinitely valuable treasure: by treasuring it, by treasuring it above everything else, by being satisfied in his self-giving revelation above everything else.

God did not create to become glorious. He created to share his glory for the enjoyment of his creatures. And wonder of wonders, our enjoyment of the all-glorious God is the very means by which his glory shines most brightly in the creation. The eternal happiness of God in God is the foundation of our eternal happiness in him. And our supreme happiness in God is the seal that we put on the supreme worth of God’s glory, which is why we never tire of saying that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.