In our society we hear a lot about independence. Whether it is political or individual our culture highly values independence. And for good reason. There are a lot of good things to be said about independence. In fact, right now we are in an independent bible church, which simply means that we are not officially tied to any denomination. However, despite all the area of our life where we are independent there are times in our lives when we realize just how dependent we actually are. Medical struggles, financial woes, and spiritual trials all work, sometimes in unison, to remind what dependence means.
We have all felt that feeling of utter dependence upon someone else. It is a state that one dictionary defines as “the state of relying on or needing someone or something for aid support, or the like….” Despite all the talk about independence our society is filled with examples of what it means to be dependent:
- For example, many of you will be claiming several dependants on your taxes in the near future. I am sure when Uncle Sam comes knocking you will have no trouble with the definition of dependence.
- Another more extreme example of dependence is seen in the life of a junkie. Without the chemicals found in his drug of choice he is literally incapacitated. He cannot function, his body has become completely dependent upon drugs.
These are two radically different examples, and they both reveal what it means to be dependent. But, as we turn our attention to God’s word, what does it mean to be dependent upon God? Are we supposed to show up to church once a year to declare our dependence upon God like we declare a dependant on our taxes? Or, should we absolutely incapacitated unless we are sitting in a low lit room getting our Jesus fix with our bibles opened and Third Day (or for some of our older saints Petra, or for some of our even more seasoned saints Bill Gaither) playing in the background? I would submit to you that it is probably somewhere in between these two extremes.
I would define dependence upon God as a heart attitude that trusts God more than self. Or to put it another way, you look to God as a source of help in all circumstances. If it helps, a close synonym to dependence upon God is trust in God. The Bible makes it clear that this kind of dependence upon God is a good thing. In fact, Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” In fact, not only is it a good thing to depend upon God, it is wrong not to depend upon God. Several times in Isaiah 22 God’s people are condemned for not depending upon God.
So it is clear that as God’s people we must depend upon God, but what does this look like practically? This morning we are going to explore this very question as we look at Acts 4:23-35. This passage provides us with a glimpse at what dependence upon God looks like practically.
Acts 4:23–35 (NASB95)
23 When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM, 25 who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, ‘WHY DID THE GENTILES RAGE, AND THE PEOPLES DEVISE FUTILE THINGS? 26 ‘THE KINGS OF THE EARTH TOOK THEIR STAND, AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER AGAINST THE LORD AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST.’ 27 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. 29 “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, 30 while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. 32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.
Acts 4:23-35 gives us a glimpse at what dependence looks like by showing us an example of a dependent church. In this passage Luke records for us how the early church dealt with persecution from the religious establishment; they depended upon God. Thus, in this passage we see the need for the church to depend upon God no matter what the situation might be. Specifically, we see 6 traits of a dependent church:
- A Dependent Church God prays. (v. 24)
- A Dependent Church finds comfort in God’s sovereignty (vv. 25-28)
- A Dependent Church boldly proclaims His word. (vv. 29-30)
- A Dependent Church is unified. (v. 32a)
- A Dependent Church gives generously (vv. 32b, & 34-35)
- A Dependent Church trusts God with the results. (vv. 31, & 33)
As we look at each one of these traits over the next week it is important to note that each one of these principles should exemplify our church as well as our own personal lives as we seek to depend upon God in ever situation.