“As grace is at first from God, so it is continually from him, and is maintained by him, as much as light in the atmosphere is all day long from the sun, as well as at first dawning, or sun-rising.-Men are dependent on the power of God for every exercise of grace, and for carrying on that work in the heart, for subduing sin and corruption, increasing holy principles, and enabling to bring forth fruit in good works. Man is dependent on divine power in bringing grace to its perfection, in making the soul completely amiable in Christ’s glorious likeness, and filling of it with a satisfying joy and blessedness; and for the raising of the body to life, and to such a perfect state, that it shall be suitable for a habitation and organ for a soul so perfected and blessed,”- Jonathan Edwards, God Glorified in Man’s Dependence.
Dependent on God for conversion? Absolutely. Dependent on God for the opening of our eyes and regenerating of our hearts? Definitely. Dependent on God for saving faith? Yes. Dependent on God for the rest of my life? Yikes. I often want to think that after God has saved me, He now wants me to work hard independent of Him to make myself holy. Though many Christians would never say this and would affirm man’s dependence on God for sanctification (progressive sanctification, becoming more like Christ), i think most of us live, myself included, completely unaware that we are still utterly dependent upon Him to work out and finish what He started within us. Yes, yes! He saves us and calls us to work hard to fight, calls us to work hard to be sanctified, and amen to that. We should strive with every effort to cast off our sin and cling to Him. AND, and it’s a BIG AND, we are to do it in a way that remembers daily that He is the One truly doing all of this within us. We are not passive in sanctification, but neither can we say the works we do are COMPLETELY OUR OWN. No. God’s glory is wrapped up in man’s dependence. If man isn’t utterly dependent, he gets partial glory. Are there good works in our lives? Let us attribute them to God’s grace. Is there a love for holiness and a hatred of sin? Let us attribute it to God’s grace. Is there a desire for Him? Let us attribute it to God’s grace. Let us proclaim with the apostle Paul, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit,” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Christians have been transformed into glory through their union with Christ. God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins,” (Colossians 1:13-14). And yet, though definitively sanctified, we are also being progressively sanctified and will be transformed into a different degree of glory upon entering His Kingdom in eternity. But the Christian’s best hope is not in his own works, or in how he feels like he is progressing in godliness (though that can be encouraging nonetheless), but his best hope is in the God who began the work in him, and promises to complete it (Phil. 1:6). The supreme hope of a Christian is in God, Himself. For “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it,” (1 Thessalonians 5:24). It is in our dependence on God that we find a measure of supreme joy, for in our dependence we experience Him in His fullness and power; we experience His true glory and splendor, His excellencies as Founder, Sustainer, and Perfecter of our faith.