God’s Words Are Always Sufficient
One of my favorite chapters in the bible is Genesis chapter 15, you can read this short account that has God and Abram in it by clicking here. If you are unfamiliar with the story, I strongly encourage you to read it before going on any further in this post.
I love this story because it is one of many drop-the-mic moments for God. That said, this moment in particular has a bit more nuance and deserves some context building. However, before I do that, I want to lay the foundation for an aspect of God’s character that this story points to. You guessed it, his Holiness.
If you have followed The Good Letters for any length of time, you’ll know that we talk about God’s holiness a lot. The reason we do so is because God’s holiness is so multidimensional in its expression that we could spend 100 lifetimes discussing it and not get close to scratching the surface of His holiness.
The dimension of God’s holiness (which we like to define as the otherness of God characterized by his infinite power and unparalleled goodness) that I want to focus on is His sufficiency.
The Insufficiency of Man
When I use the term “the sufficiency of God” I am speaking about the aspect of His “otherness” that imperatively proclaims that God’s existence is not dependent on any conditions outside of himself. Comparatively, we can look at ourselves and quickly observe that we require a very specific set of circumstances in order to persist as living creatures. That’s a fancy way of saying that if we don’t have food, water, shelter, oxygen, a temperate climate, a strong immune system, other people to grow to harvest and package our food, then we die. And that’s just looking at the basic biological perspective!
From the moment we are conceived in our mothers’ wombs, we need our external and internal environments to be nurtured to an alarming degree, especially as compared to other creatures in the wild. On a natural and spiritual level, all of creation is dependent on God to keep a semblance of order as observed by the natural laws. That leads us to God’s sufficiency which can be looked at from two dimensions.
The Sufficiency of God
The first dimension of Gods sufficiency has to do with his personal sustainability. This is to say that among God’s many infinite riches, which include his wisdom and power he also possess infinite riches of being. Which is to say that His ability to exist comes from within Himself and it is never ending! He doesn’t depend on the sun, or water, or oxygen, or sleep in order to replenish His life force because He is the origin and perpetuator of life force. Some may wonder why he rested on the seventh day of creation. His reason for resting was to serve as an example to us of how as dependent creatures, we do need to rest.
The second dimension of God’s sufficiency has to do with His sufficiency for us. God has chosen to share His infinite nature with us, His creation. When Paul closes out his prayer in Ephesians 3 by saying the following
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
It is clear that we cannot even fathom the immense power and wisdom of God in our limited minds let alone fathom how that power is constantly at work within us quite literally sustaining us.
The story in genesis 15 brings together these two dimensions, both God’s self sufficiency and the sufficiency he freely shares with us, without the need for us to be co-laborers in his infinite grace. He simply requires us to be obedient and let him be sufficient.
He is More Than Enough
So what is Genesis 15 even saying? Great question, it consists of this peculiar encounter between God and Abram. This encounter is all about God reassuring Abram that he will support him and Abram, never being shy with questions, probes God multiple times about how is it possible that he will be the father of a great nation when he doesn’t have any kids. So rather than continuing to use words and illustrations like the stars, God shows up and makes a pact with Abram.
The interesting thing about this pact, is it only requires one “signature” and that is God’s. The Lord tells Abram to gather and sacrifice all these animals and spread their blood between the halved pieces. This ritual was common in Abram’s time and when two people were making a covenant, they would pass through the halve pieces walking on the blood to seal the deal.
God chooses to reveal himself as the smoking fire pot and the flaming torch that pass through the halved pieces while Abram watches. In effect, God swears on Himself that He will see to it that everything he had said would come to pass.
Later in the story of Abram, we find out he does in fact have offspring even though his and his wife’s bodies had been insufficient to produce offspring for at least 99 years. God’s promises are unchangeable by virtue of His sufficiency.