Taken from an interview with John Piper ( Presented in 6 main points. Today, point 3)
God is (Point 3)
Third, he revealed himself as absolute, self-existent, independent of all other reality. I think one of the most important verses in the Bible is Exodus 3:14: “God said to Moses, ‘I Am Who I Am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: “I Am has sent me to you.”’” The phrase “I Am Who I Am” is a declaration of absolute freedom from being created or formed or guided or swayed or determined by anything outside himself. Whatever God is or whatever God does, he himself is the ultimate source and cause of that.
Here are some implications of what that revelation means for who God is, that revelation of his “I Am Who I Am.”
1. It means he never had a beginning. Nobody made God. God simply is, always was, with no beginning.
2. God will never end. He is absolute being. If you are being from forever, there’s no place to go outside being. You can’t not be.
3. There is no reality before him. There’s no reality outside him unless he wills it to be and makes it.
4. God is utterly independent. He depends on nothing to bring him into being or support him or counsel him or make him what he is.
5. Everything that is not God depends totally on God. All that is not God is secondary and dependent. The entire universe — vast, vast, vast billions of galaxies — is utterly secondary to God.
6. He is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He cannot be improved. He is not becoming anything. There is no development in God, no progress. Absolute perfection cannot be improved.
7. He is the absolute standard of truth and goodness and beauty. There is no lawbook to which he looks to know what is right. There’s no almanac to establish facts for God, no guild to determine what is excellent or beautiful. He himself is the standard of what is right and true and beautiful.
8. All that God does is always right, always just, always beautiful, and always in accord with truth — that is, himself. It fits. In that sense, it is right and good and beautiful, all things considered.
9. Therefore, God is the most important and most valuable reality in the universe. He is more worthy of interest and attention and admiration and enjoyment than all other realities, including the entire universe.
Now, all of that, all nine of those implications of “I Am Who I Am” — all of that — is implied in God’s word to Moses, “Tell them, ‘I Am has sent me to you.’” You can see the same implications in many other places in the Bible — for example, in the letter to the Romans. This is one of my favorite passages: Romans 11:33–36.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
In other words, God can’t be counseled because his knowledge and wisdom are infinite. God can’t be negotiated with or bartered with or bribed because he owns everything. He can never be put in anybody’s debt. Everything originates with him. He sustains all that is. And the display of his glory, his beauty, his greatness, his value, is the goal of everything: “From him and through him and to him are all things.” Therefore, “to him be glory forever.”
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Providence.