"For as the Father has life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." John 5:26
Convinced that there is nothing so precious or blessed as a true knowledge of the living God, and equally convinced that much of the church today knows not God, we continue setting forth the various attributes or virtues of God. Of God's many virtues, there are some which are reflected in the child of God who has Christ living in him; love, grace, and mercy would be examples of these. There are others which are true of God alone and never become true of the saint at any time. An example of this category of attributes is set forth in the text quoted above. John 5:26 describes very powerfully the virtue of God called His independence or His self-existence. God is independent; the creature is dependent, and that upon God! As we see what these words of Jesus mean we ought to be humbled and filled with reverence, awe, and a
spirit of worship.
In the fifth chapter of John, Jesus is engaged in controversy with the fault-finding Jews who refuse to believe on Him. If you would take the time to read this chapter you will discover that the controversy centers about the relationship between "Father" and "Son." These two words also appear in the text quoted above; we ought to have a clear understanding of whom these words are truly speaking. Since the truth of the Trinity is not at all under discussion here, it is plain that "Father" refers to the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) while the word "Son" stands for Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, as He walked and talked on the earth. This is the only interpretation that fits those verses where Jesus speaks of God and Himself (see verses 17 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27), and therefore this must also be the meaning in verse 36. Let us keep this in mind: the Triune God in heaven and the man Christ Jesus on earth!
Basic to the Being of God, and one of the fundamentals truths about God that Scripture reveals to us, is that God is completely independent and has no need of anything outside of Himself. Jesus says, "God has life in Himself!" As far as this important matter of life is concerned, we must understand that God has life of and in and through Himself. God does not depend upon any one or any thing outside of Himself for life. Not only does He have life in Himself, but God is life; He is the immortal, living God Who is the Lord of life! Theologians use a term here that means "from-Himnself-ness." IN all His Being and perfections, God demonstrates "from-Himself-ness." God is independent as to mind (Romans 11:34), as to will (Ephesians 1:11), as to love (Hosea 14), and as to power (Psalm 115:3).
There is something else to remember here: God is so independent and without need of any thing outside of Himself that nothing can ever add any thing to God. Creation does not add anything to God. Creation reveals the wonderful glory of God, but it does not add to it. He is independent in glory; in Himself He is all-glorious. The salvation of the Church as a whole, and each member of the Church in particular, does not add to God's great glory! Oh, salvation reveals the wonders of His grace and glory, but salvation cannot increase it! From eternity to eternity God has all glory! Still more, the Lord Jesus Christ in His incarnation, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension, did not add any thing to God either! All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily! That Christ revealed the glory of God to us is wonderfully and forever true! But in so doing He did not add anything to God. How could He? God is unchangeable. Before creation He is the God of all glory, as well as after creation, and He is that to all eternity, of Himself! God is the God of life Who sustains all, but Who is Himself independent of all. He gives to all, but He is enriched by none. We suggest you read Isaiah 40:12-17 carefully at this point. In the light of these exclamations of the prophet, do you think that the sacrifices of bullocks, sheep, and goats by the Israelites in the temple added any thing to God? Did God need those things, was He enriched by them? And what of our service of God on the Sabbath Day in His house, as well as from day to day? Does God need us to be happy, to be complete. to be glorious in perfections and praises? Not at all! God could have gone from eternity to eternity, supremely blessed and glorious in Himself, without decreeing Christ, the Church, creation or any thing. Because, you see, God lives a perfect life within Himself as the Triune, covenant God; He lives, speaks, loves, delights, within Himself as the all sufficient, independent, Triune God!
There are certain names of God which reveal His independence most vividly, names which only God has and which the creature could never, never bear. We have in mind "the Almighty One", "the Highest One", "the Lord of Hosts." Each of these names reveals that God is above all else, and is not
dependent in any way upon any thing outside His Being. But undoubtedly the name of God that reveals the greatness, glory, and independence of God most clearly of all is the name JEHOVAH (I AM or I AM THAT I AM). When God says of Himself, in fact names Himself, I AM, He very truthfully and confidently asserts that He rests for Being upon no one but Himself, exists before all things, and all things exist through Him. When God says, "I AM", He confidently asserts that He has need of nothing, but by and through and of Himself, IS! It is true, the name JEHOVAH has tremendous significance for our election, redemption, preservation, trust in God's promises, for all the life of the covenant of grace. But we must understand that God reveals himself as He does in all our salvation exactly as He is in Himself, so that first He is JEHOVAH in Himself and then He is JEHOVAH in all our salvation!
We ought to be struck, now, by the fact that we creatures differ radically from God on this matter of being. God is independent; we are always dependent, and our dependence is upon Him. Oh, we can be so proud! We can live sometimes as if we had no need of God, as if we were the captains of our futures and the masters of our own destinies, as if we have things pretty much in control. We can behave ourselves sometimes as that rich and foolish man in the parable of Luke 12 who said, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many year; take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry." In our self-sufficiency we think that we can take care of ourselves. We make our plans sometimes without a thought of God, and without saying, "If the Lord wills and we live."
We do not only depend upon God for air to breathe, for food to eat, for strength to labor, for jobs to perform, for safety in the midst of dangers, but there is something more basic that we are missing! We depend upon God for our very being and existence. God has the ground of His Being in Himself; we don't. The ground of our existence is in God. Paul writes in Acts 17:28 that "we live and move and have our being in God." Such is our dependence upon God that if He were to remove His upholding hand, we would not merely die but we would cease to exist and disappear!
In John 5:26 Jesus goes on to say that just as the Father has life in Himself "so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." this is astounding! this is amazing! We must think into this as deeply as we possibly can. God has given to the Son, that is, to the man Jesus Christ, to the Holy Child born of the virgin Mary, the gift of life in such a way that Jesus has life in Himself; the only Man of whom it is ever possible to say that! God gave life to Jesus as the Head of the Church and as the Mediator of the Covenant in order that Jesus might fully and beautifully reveal the Father! Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Due to this bestowal of God, Jesus has become a life source, a life center in Himself; thus, also, He has life to give! Of this Paul writes to Timothy, saying that Christ "hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." The immortal God, the King eternal, is invisible. But He reveals also this aspect of Himself by giving Christ to have life in Himself!
Do you see Jesus as the Lord of Life? Do you hear Jesus speak through the preaching of the gospel each week? In verse 25 of John 5, Jesus says, "Verily, verily I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live." The voice of Jesus, because He has life in Himself, is able to raise the spiritually dead unto life! these words of Jesus anticipate His death and resurrection, when he laid down His life that He might take it again. See also John 11 where we read of Jesus calling Lazarus from the dead, John 10:28 where Jesus says literally that His sheep shall never perish because "I keep on giving them eternal life," and Galatians 2:20 where Paul exclaims that he lives because Christ lives in him.
That God has life in Himself as the independent God, that He has given life to Christ that He might be the life source of His people, has several humbling implications of the believer. First, what a great, good, and wonderful God our God is! He had need of nothing, nothing can ever be added unto Him, He lives a perfect life within Himself ... how glorious God is! And the other side of it is, how small, insignificant, dependent we are! God doesn't need us, but we need Him! God gives and never receives; we receive and never really give.
Secondly, it becomes us, then to confess this dependence upon God, to live consciously out of Him. You can give yourself over, body and soul, to such a God without any reason to fear. Blessed is the man who looks away from himself, from governments and all human institutions, and looks to God the fount of every blessing.
And finally, that God is independent and self-existent is the foundation of all worship of God! Let us never think that God is altogether such an one as we, but rather let us always acknowledge Him as the high and lofty One Who is excellent in praises and Marvelous in Being. Having life in Himself, He is the source of our life in Christ! Let us worship at his footstool!