When in the course of spiritual events, Christians must separate from unbelief, wickedness, and man supplanting God, to retain the privileged titles of sons and daughters of God, the fearful certainty of the coming wrath of God requires that we should declare the causes impelling us to reverence Christ.
These truths are self evident, all people, by birth-nature, are disobedient to the Lord Jesus Christ, and by nature reject their good creator in favor of idols, following Satan himself, and are thus subject to the judgment and wrath of God and are legally due only the right of suffering the painful consequences of sin, death, and eternal separation from God and all that is good in eternal damnation. Correspondingly, Holy God is under no compulsion or obligation to protect any one from the logical outcomes of sinful choices, to offer anyone eternal life, or to save anyone from a just decree of damnation. Except, God the Father for the demonstration of His grace has unconditionally elected His People to receive the gift of eternal bliss with the Lord Jesus Christ from before they were even born having done neither good nor evil. The elect themselves deserve damnation along with Satan himself in the Lake of Fire, but the death of God the son, the Lord Jesus Christ, serves as a substitute for the death they deserve. God the Holy Spirit convinces the elect of their sin, God's righteousness, and the judgment to come. The Holy Spirit also irresistibly brings a response of faith in Christ to his Church. Further, the elect of God only become brothers through faith in Christ and participation in the Church. No work, effort, or choice of man can produce the heart change needed for fellowship with God’s family, but only the grace of God. Finally, those God the Father has elected, that Jesus has died for, and the Holy Spirit has sealed will with all certainty receive the gift of eternal life with Christ and His family. Thus each man's earthly and eternal destiny is absolutely dependent upon God.
Men Declare Independence
Only through grace are men able to declare dependence on the Lord. For every man and woman’s first choice was to be their own god. Satan placed a temptation before Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He whispered, “for God knows that in the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5 WEB). Eve ate, Adam followed, and they thus declared independence from God. The ancient King of Tyre rose to great power and said, “I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the middle of the seas” (Ezekiel 28:2 WEB), yet another declaration of independence from God.
What of us? We all have done the same.
Nations Declare Independence and God Laughs
Likewise the nations plot and scheme for a plan, formula, invention, law, philosophy, ideal, or doctrine that will give them the peace and prosperity they crave. Will the God in heaven grant these cravings with no reverence to his crucified son, Jesus Christ? The Psalmist declares,
1) Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot a vain thing? 2) The kings of the earth take a stand, and the rulers take counsel together, against Yahweh, and against his Anointed, saying, 3) "Let's break their bonds apart, and cast their cords from us." 4) He who sits in the heavens will laugh. The Lord will have them in derision. 5) Then he will speak to them in his anger, and terrify them in his wrath: 6) "Yet I have set my King on my holy hill of Zion." 7) I will tell of the decree. Yahweh said to me, "You are my son. Today I have become your father. 8) Ask of me, and I will give the nations for your inheritance, the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession. 9) You shall break them with a rod of iron. You shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." 10) Now therefore be wise, you kings. Be instructed, you judges of the earth. 11) Serve Yahweh with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12) Give sincere homage to the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish on the way, for his wrath will soon be kindled. Blessed are all those who take refuge in him.Psalm 2 (WEB)
Dependence for Life
Instead we are wholly dependent upon God for the very beating of our heart. God himself gives and takes away life. “...you take away their breath: they die, and return to the dust. You send out your Spirit and they are created...” (Psalm 104:29b-30a WEB). Jesus confronts our restlessness with a simple question, “Which of you, by being anxious, can add one moment to his lifespan?” (Matthew 6:27 WEB). Is it possible to gain independence from God’s authority over our life? No. He alone gives us life, sustains our life, and takes our life.
Dependence for Provision
We are also wholly dependent upon God for life provisions. Jesus teaches, "Therefore don't be anxious, saying, 'What will we eat?', 'What will we drink?' or, 'With what will we be clothed?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things" (Matthew 6:31 WEB). God is faithful to his promise to provide for our needs. “Yet he didn't leave himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you rains from the sky and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness" (Acts 14:17 WEB). Can we gain independence from God for our daily needs? No. Even if were we the richest person in the world we would still need the Lord every day.
Dependence for Salvation
More important than life, food, or clothing is our dependency upon God for salvation. One day each individual will stand before Christ for judgment. But how are we who rejected God to be saved? Romans teaches,
But the righteousness which is of faith says this, 'Don't say in your heart, "Who will ascend into heaven?" (that is, to bring Christ down); or, "Who will descend into the abyss?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.)' But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth, and in your heart;' that is, the word of faith which we preach: that if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes resulting in righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed'(Romans 10:6-11 WEB).
Can we go to heaven to petition for peace with God and calm his anger? Hardly! Can we go to Hell to undo the wrong we have done? Nope. We cannot even make the first step to appease God’s wrath. Instead God invites us to receive by faith that he loves us and his wrath is already appeased.
Dependence for Everything
Jesus compared himself to a vine with us as his branches, a vivid picture that we are dead without him. Jesus said, “I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 WEB). Can a vine branch say, “Enough! I’ve had it with the vine. I’m out of here!”? Can the branch gain independence, pack its bags, and march down the field in search of another vine? No. Likewise we can do nothing apart from the vine, Jesus Christ. That is 'nothing,' 'nada,' 'zilch,' 'zero.' Get the picture? Each man, including me and you, wants independence. God wants dependence.
Interdependence among God’s People
Moreover God wants dependence upon himself and interdependence upon his people. Think of God as the ultimate family man. After all he does call himself our father. Not only does he smile when his children cooperate. He insists upon it. Consider Hosea 11:4 (WEB), “I drew them with cords of a man, with ties of love; and I was to them like those who lift up the yoke on their necks; and I bent down to him and I fed him.” God deserves the credit for the times we have been cared for, fed, loved, and had burdens removed. Wow, God has loved us through people from the time of our birth to this day. Do you think that God is thrilled when we declare independence from him or each other? I think rather that this gets God pretty mad. God is the ultimate family man, building a Christian family. So check your independence at the door.
Independence from Unbelief, Wickedness, Obligation, and Man replacing God
The Scriptures do teach us to be independent in a few ways.
14) Don't be unequally yoked with unbelievers, for what fellowship do righteousness and iniquity have? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15) What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what portion does a believer have with an unbeliever? 16) What agreement does a temple of God have with idols? For you are a temple of the living God. Even as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk in them. I will be their God and they will be my people."17) Therefore " 'Come out from among them, and be separate,' says the Lord. 'Touch no unclean thing. I will receive you. 18) I will be to you a Father. You will be to me sons and daughters,' says the Lord Almighty."2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (WEB)
9) I wrote to you in my letter to have no company with sexual sinners; 10) yet not at all meaning with the sexual sinners of this world, or with the covetous and extortionists, or with idolaters; for then you would have to leave the world. 11) But as it is, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who is called a brother who is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortionist. Don't even eat with such a person. 12) For what do I have to do with also judging those who are outside? Don't you judge those who are within? 13) But those who are outside, God judges. "Put away the wicked man from among yourselves."1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (WEB)
11) ... make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, even as we instructed you; 12) that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and may have need of nothing.1 Thessalonians 4:11b-12 (WEB)
Fourth, Christians must obey God alone in belief and practice,
28) saying, "Didn't we strictly command you not to teach in this name? Behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood on us." 29) But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men.Acts 5:28-29 (WEB)
Christ Depends on His Father
If anyone would have the right to act independently it is Jesus Christ. Yet we read, “Jesus therefore answered them, 'Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise' " (John 5:19 WEB). God the son, Jesus Christ demonstrated perfect dependence upon God the Father. Wow!
Independent / Autonomous Christians and Churches?
If these terms mean independence from unbelief, wickedness, obligation, and man replacing God then all the more! However, if there is a spirit of independence or a cavalier attitude about keeping step with the one church that Christ is building then beware of the God who laughs from heaven! Perhaps to avoid the independent spirit of our age we should call ourselves “Christ-dependent” or “Christ-governed.” Jesus prayed, “The glory which you have given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:22 WEB). Paul wrote, “There is one body and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all, and in us all” (Ephesians 4:4-6 WEB). Jesus promised, “...I will build my assembly, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18b WEB). The church that Jesus is building is the only one that will be left standing. Make sure you are not independent from his church!
The Gospel of Utter Dependence Upon Christ
Thus I repudiate any doctrine that teaches an individual can absolve their guilt or justly deserved penalty of eternal damnation before Holy God through any work, effort, condition, or choice no matter how great or insignificant. Paul warns,
6) I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different "good news", 7) but there isn't another "good news." Only there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the Good News of Christ. 8) But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you any "good news" other than that which we preached to you, let him be cursed. 9) As we have said before, so I now say again: if any man preaches to you any "good news" other than that which you received, let him be cursed. 10) For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? For if I were still pleasing men, I wouldn't be a servant of Christ.Galatians 1:6-10 (WEB)
I instead join the people of faith through the ages who have suffered for the testimony that we have absolutely nothing within ourselves deserving eternal life, but it has been granted strictly as a free gift by the grace of God to all Christ's chosen ones. Apart from the unmerited grace of God we would suffer eternal damnation along with the rest of the non-elect. This I joyfully receive and proclaim.
Pledge of Dependence
Therefore, through Christ, I appeal to Almighty God for the rectitude of these intentions and do solemnly publish and declare to God and humanity that I always was and always will be wholly and absolutely dependent upon the Lord. I am thus absolved from allegiance to anything that opposes our salvation given by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ. For the support of this document, with further reliance upon Christ, I pledge my life, fortune, and sacred honor.
Finally, opportunity to promote this good news is granted strictly as a gift of God’s grace.