“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor 9.8).
The doctrine of divine sufficiency is a glorious doctrine, whose rays extend far into the domain of Christian usefulness and consolation. In his commentary1 on the Westminster Larger Catechism, Thomas Ridgley notes that divine sufficiency may be considered from two angles.
First, God’s “self-sufficiency” refers to God’s sufficiency in and of himself. God’s “self-sufficiency is that whereby he has enough in himself to denominate him completely blessed, as a God of infinite perfection.” God possesses infinite riches of being, wisdom, goodness, and power in and of himself (Gen 17.1; John 5.26; Rom 11.33; Eph 3.16). Because he possesses these unfathomable riches in the perfect knowledge and love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt 11.25-27; John 17.24-26), God is the “blessed” or “happy” God (1 Tim 1.11; 6.15).
Second, God’s “all-sufficiency” refers to God’s sufficiency for us. God’s self-sufficiency is not self-enclosed or self-absorbed, but opens itself up as a treasure trove in the presence of our needy condition. Accordingly, God’s “all-sufficiency is that, whereby he is able to communicate as much blessedness to his creatures, as he is pleased to make them capable of receiving; and therefore he is able not only to supply all their wants, but to do exceedingly above all that they ask or think, Phil. iv.10 and Eph. iii.20.”
The doctrine of divine sufficiency is useful, according to Ridgley, “To induce us to seek happiness in him alone: creatures are no more than a stream, but he is the fountain; we may, in a mediate way, receive some small drops from them, but he is the ocean of all blessedness.” The failure to put the doctrine of divine sufficiency to use manifests itself in several ways, such as when “we are discontented with our present condition” or when we search for blessings, whether through lawful or unlawful means, “as though God were not able to bestow them upon us in his own way.”
Finally, the doctrine of God’s sufficiency is a source of strong consolation “under the greatest straits and difficulties” to which we are “exposed in this world.” Because the eternally happy God wills to make us happy in him, and because he has all sufficiency in and of himself to accomplish his will for us, believers “have warrant from God . . . to encourage themselves” in times of great physical and spiritual distress “that they shall come off victorious, because his grace is sufficient for them, 2 Cor. xii.8, 9.”
1. Ridgley, Thomas. “The Perfections of God.” In A Body of Divinity:Wherein the Doctrines of the Christian Religion are Explained and Defended, Being the Substance of Several Lectures on the Assembly’s Larger Catechism, Volume 1, 127-129. Philadelphia: William W. Woodward, 1814.
This article first appeared on Reformation 21