“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…” (Excerpt from the Declaration of Independence)
Throughout the 13 British Colonies in America back in 1776, the above-quoted document was read publicly. Before the hearing of the words in this document, the people in cities like Boston, Charleston, and Savannah were (as far as they knew) citizens of a colony of Great Britain. Yet, the document was written days before; declaring that they were something entirely different. They were now citizens of a State that was free and independent from Great Britain. The War would come later for the preservation of this independence. But as far as the writers and signers of this document were concerned, they were already citizens of a free and independent States. Their words said so.
Sure, there were many who on hearing these words thought, "this does not apply to me." Many would stay loyal to the British Crown and reject this offer of American Independence. But this was not an offer, or a transaction, or a deal that said, "if you do this, the new government will do that." This document was a declaration of something that had already happened… "that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States…"
The document is nothing more than paper and ink. What makes these tangible things more than what they are is when they are attached to the words written on them. The words plus the element of parchment and ink equal the Declaration of Independence. The colonists were free before they knew that they were.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is also a declaration. It is a declaration of something that has already happened, “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
It was all gift. Declared by and purchased all by Christ on the cross. This was outside of you and for you.
There are many who hear and are offered this declaration of the gospel in Christ's word, supper, and baptism and reject it as not applying to them. Sadly that is their loss. But it does not stop the declaration of what happened from being true.
Similar to the American Colonists seeing themselves as being set free from the tyranny of Great Britain, we sinners buried with Christ have been set free from the tyranny of sin, death, the devil and ourselves by Christ himself. But there is one striking difference.
The gospel is not a declaration of independence. It is better than that. It is a declaration of dependence. All of what is required of you is given to you as a gift from Jesus Christ. In him you are totally dependent on him for everything.
And he gladly gives it to you.
The gospel is a declaration of dependence on Christ alone. Your salvation, justification, sanctification, eventual glorification are all totally dependent on the action of Christ for you. Every day in Christ is dependence day.