The Aseity And Infinitude Of God Part I

Absolute Infinite Life

One day Jesus was traveling in Judea beyond the Jordan river. Large crowds followed him, along with Pharisees who questioned him on the law of God and the children he blessed.  One rich young man asked Jesus a question which demonstrated a great deal of ignorance. He asked: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16). Eternal life is what every human being was designed to long for and seek after, though as sinful and corrupted beings, we run after true life opposite from where it truly lies. Jesus’ sum response to the man is for him to sell everything and follow him, since Jesus is infinite and absolute in and of himself (the aseity of God), and thus, the source of eternal life (Matt. 19:21).

In this article I will argue that, as Christians, we must hold to these two attributes of God (his aseity and infinitude) in relation to how Scripture defines them for the sake of knowing God in how he has revealed himself to us. I will also argue that they are necessarily connected to each other in essence. My argument is that we are to understand that only a God who is absolute life, in and of himself, and infinite in every respect, has the power and will to give true salvation to his creation by his Word alone to his glory alone. Though these two attributes are very distinct and clearly taught in Scripture, they are not alone, nor left to each other, but will typically be found along with the simplicity, immutability, eternity, and the goodness of God as well; I will argue why these are necessarily connected as well.

God’s Aseity

Aseity comes from the Latin term “a se” meaning “of himself” or “from himself”. The God of the Bible declared himself to be a se when he made himself known to Moses through the burning bush on God’s mountain in Horeb by saying “I AM WHO I AM,” (Ex. 3:14). By attributing to God that he is completely of himself we know that he is self-satisfying and therefore, independent of everything. “God is self-existent, that is, he has the ground of his existence in himself.”[1]

On God’s aseity, Herman Bavinck, a Dutch Reformed professor from the early 20th century, elaborates saying: “When God ascribes this aseity to himself in Scripture, he makes himself known as an absolute being, as the one who is in an absolute sense. By this perfection he is at once essentially and absolutely distinct from all creatures.” [2] English Puritan Stephen Charnock teaches in his works on aseity: “God is of himself, from no other…. God hath no original; he hath no defect because he had no beginning. He was before all things, and, therefore, depends upon no other thing.” [3]

God is an absolute being in the fullest sense. He is life itself in every sense of the word, therefore, he is self-sufficient and self-existent. God is the life by which he lives eternally always. He is all that he is through himself and through no other. [4] God almighty is who he is in and of himself. [5]

God’s Infinitude

When we say that God is infinite we mean that God has no limitations in every sense. He is infinitely holy, good, just, merciful, perfect, powerful, knowledgeable, etc., (Job 11:7-9). God is free from all restrictions. [6] Indeed, he cannot be restricted or limited by anything because he is the eternal creator of all things. Time, space, and matter were all created by God, therefore, none of his creation can contain this great and infinite God. “He is infinite in his being and perfections,”[7] meaning that God’s nature cannot be limited, nor can any limitation be assigned to his essence. The whole infinite counsel of God is so deep and vast we cannot know it fully as Scripture testifies to us, thus, it is incomprehensible. For his perfection, eternity, and immensity are infinite and absolute in his essence of being.[8]

However, when we ascribe “infinite” to God we do not mean it the same as we would with the word “space”. Space is infinite, it cannot be measured in whole and yet it can be limited and contained. God cannot. Theologian Charles Hodge expounds that: “When, therefore, we say that God is infinite, we mean something; we express a great and positive truth.” [9] God is infinite because God is all since he created all and, as Solomon prayed: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27).

God’s aseity and infinitude are related to each other in that God cannot be all that he is in and of himself if he is not absolutely without limit and unable to be bound by anything. Moreover, God cannot be infinite in every aspect without being self-sufficient, having life to the fullest in all that he is. A being cannot be the perfect and absolute being if this being is limited by anything outside of himself. Therefore, God must be and is a se and infinite necessarily; because he is a se and infinite he is the One true simple, immutable, and eternally good God over all. Amen amen.

In Part II of this series I will break down further why and how they are related to each other. Could God be a se and not be infinite? Could God be infinite but not a se? Since God truly is both, what does that entail?


[1] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1958), 58. 

[2] Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, ed. and trans. William Hendriksen (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1978), 145. 

[3] Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979), 1:321. 

[4] Anselm, Proslogion, iThe Major Works, ed. Brian Davies and G. R. Evans (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 12. 

[5] The Baptist Confession of Faith & The Baptist Catechism (Birmingham, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2012), 2:1. 

[6] Berkhof, Systematic Theology59. 

[7] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology: Volume 1: Theology (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 380. 

[8] On perfection: Job 11:7-10; Psalm 145:3; Matthew 5:48. On eternity: Psalm 90:2; 102:12; Ephesians 3:21; 2 Peter 3:8. On immensity, God cannot be contained: 1 Kings 8:27; Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7:48, 49. Yet he holds and sustains all: Psalm 139:7-10; Jeremiah 23:23, 24; Acts 17:27, 28. 

[9] Hodge, Systematic Theology, 382.

 

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1689 Reformed Baptist believer in the One true God of everything. Loving member of the local and visible Reformed Baptist Church of Kansas City, MDiv student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and lover of reading the authoritative Word of God.

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