Today we celebrate American Independence Day, commemorating the day the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The American colonists had legally separated themselves from the authority of the British Crown on July 2, but the Declaration formally laid out the reasons for the colonists’ separation from England.
As important as this day is in the life of our great nation for our independence, I pray we will be reminded to declare our utter dependence upon God . . . and not only this day, but every day on this side of heaven.
Jesus spoke of our need to recognize our dependence on Him:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:1-5)
As a pastor, I often meet Christians who believe our dependence began after Adam and Eve sinned against God. They are mistaken! Before Adam and Eve’s dreadful act of cosmic treason in the Garden of Eden, they were totally dependent upon God for everything! Their divine design was one of utter dependence upon Omnipotence. They were made by God for God, and they were never to live a single moment independent from God. Self-reliance and self-rule were never a part of their divine design; rather, it was the fruit of their terrible rebellion against God, when they greedily grasped for autonomous rule apart from their Creator and Sustainer.
The serpent spun his slick lies and convinced Adam and Eve to seek their independence from God and live above and apart from the One who created them and was sustaining them. Tragically, they immediately found out just how dependent they were upon God! Only now they were dependent upon God for His mercy and forgiveness, which they received in the promise of a Savior.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel….And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (Genesis 3:15, 21)
God would have been totally justified to strike our rebellious parents dead right on the spot to satisfy His holy justice . . . but He did not. What God’s justice required—payment for in full for their sin and ours—God’s grace provided for in the giving of His precious Son, Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve were dependent upon God for life prior to sin and they were dependent upon God for life after their awful sin through God’s grace and the cross work of Christ.
When was the last time you considered just how dependent you are on God? Most people immediately reflect back on a season of struggle, suffering, or sorrow and how dependent they were upon God to get through it. But what about the times in life when the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the clouds are fleecy? We have a tendency to forget about our dependence upon God in seasons of plenty and prosperity.
Regardless of where this finds message you, your next breath is dependent upon God. The next beat of your heart is dependent upon God. Your hearing, eyesight, and the circulation of your blood are dependent upon God. If God were not upholding you right now, life as you know it would cease. This is true, not only for every person who has ever lived, but for everything that was ever created. Everything in the cosmos was created by God, for God, and is totally dependent upon God. The universe exists as a holy hymn for His glory. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands: (Psalm 19:1).
So on this Independence Day, let us all be reminded of our total and utter dependence upon God, “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
The Bible makes it clear that the person who is most aware of his or her dependence upon God is the one who is most often pursuing God through prayer. The more you feel your need for Him, the more time you spend in prayer to Him. If your prayer life is short or shallow, you can be assured your sense of dependency upon God is short-circuited.
Scripture is full of examples of saints who were sold out in pursuing God through prayer. The model, of course, is our Master, who was in constant communion with His Father in heaven. Here is one of my all-time favorite verses:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35)
“Prayer for God’s help” John Piper says, “is one way that God preserves and manifests the dependence of his people on his grace and power. The necessity of prayer is a constant reminder and display of our dependence on God for everything, so that he gets the glory when we get the help.” Dependence is a good thing, when we place our dependence upon God, and our prayer life is one of the best indicators of just how deeply we sense and show our dependence. Our Lord modeled it for us, and we are to continue in daily, heartfelt prayer and supplication.
What better time than now, as we Americans celebrate Independence Day, to declare and celebrate our utter dependence upon the righteous, self-sacrificial, and benevolent rule of our Gracious God!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!