It’s 2014! You’ve made your resolutions and so far they have been tested in little ways: resist sweets? Check. Go to the gym? Check. Read the Bible? Check. You keep your eye on the prize and hope to look back next year without regret. In my last post, I wrote how the greatest need of man is not to improve himself, but for himself to be saved by God. We are born enemies of God, think about that: you need God’s permission to even breathe, but He gave you breath so that you may know Him and live for Him.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:5 ESV)
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)
You need redemption in Jesus, and His power to live out that reality every day. You need salvation before resolutions, but that’s the exciting part: it introduces you into a new life that includes new resolutions, ones based on the work of Christ. These last three posts hopefully lay out three themes:
1) Revolving (life continues on, but why?)
2) Resolving (the resolution of life: to glorify God). And today’s
3) Reflecting (on the promises of God).
Today, the culture has made acronyms for just about everything. YOLO (you only live once) is a key example, as it declares that your life will end shortly and you need to take risks. It assumes this world is all there is. That once your dead, life ceases permanently. Some philosophers used to say that life is really treasured when you experience the, “reality of final experience,” where you encounter your mortality and realize there is meaning in life. However, this is a godless worldview. Where does this meaning come from? How do we know that we only live once?
That’s the problem: we need a standard. You can only measure bad by knowing what is good. Humans cannot give ultimate standards because all of us are human (duh). There must be a reality above us that descends to us the standard of good and exists in a way that is higher than ours, a Person whose existence is greater and more meaningful (Creator of the world, of morality, of humanity, etc). God is the standard, therefore the, “final experience” can only come from encountering this God. He has made Himself known in the Bible: His word written through men to speak on our level. He is triune, perfect, and manifoldly beautiful. This God revealed Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ, who took on a human existence and died in the place of sinful man so that they could be forgiven and reconciled to a sinless God (Jesus is also God and a member of the trinity). Everything was created, including you. In other words, God’s the most awesome, Divine Person (not human. Deity) who is bigger than us.
As Christians, we know this gospel. We know that the gospel should impact our lives right now. We have redemption right now. God is faithful right now, but to what end? Living for the moment doesn’t always work, because it can lead to us depending on how we feel right now. There needs to be an anchor to hold down the right perspective of what is really there. You’re not always assured of the gospel, often times we forget it.
There is much talk today about discovering, “God’s purpose for your life,” and living out “His favor” in your school and job. There’s so much more to life than what your career is supposed to be; life is about God’s plan for history which includes your career, family, church, etc. The pillars are missing to hold up our confidence. We need an eternal goal to reach for, so that we won’t let the present push us back and forth. We need an eternal perspective, or as John Piper writes, a proper view of “future grace.”
Why is this so important? Let’s take a look at the final two reasons why I believe people make resolutions:
3) (New Years is) not just a fresh start or a chance to look forward, it’s also a time to change your habits. Instilling new and exciting things into your daily routine. Improving your character, and making sure your life revolves around the right things. Becoming a better you. Progress.
4) Having an end game. It’s not just about what you did yesterday or what you will do tomorrow, but also how you want your life to end. What is the end for which man created the New Years list?
The two key words are character and continuance. Surely, God doesn’t want us to live our lives like a two-act story: Sinner born into sinful world -> Child of God in heaven, leaving the middle part up to us. This would mean that God doesn’t care about our present struggles with sin or what we do, like a train going to a set destination but what happens on the way is up to us. He’s working in us now, but not for the purpose of now. Gods purpose is for eternity.
The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3, that everyone’s work will be tested at the judgement. The judgement will happen after we die, and God will determine whether what each Christian has done is eternal or temporary. Wood or straw, building material that lasts or is useless. It’s not a judgement that determines whether we are saved, but rather, what each Christians reward is. Every Christian will be allowed into heaven, but not every Christian will receive certain rewards in heaven. What you do matters, that’s the point. You can’t just say that it matters, you need to understand why.
God is not just going to save you and let you into some pearly gates (though they do exist). He’s making, “all things new (Rev. 21:5).” Our souls aren’t the only things that will be redeemed. He’s going to reshape the earth and the universe and take away sin, tears, death, and cast Satan into Hell. Hell will still exist, but for each believer, we will be allowed into a new heaven and earth, not some mystical place in the sky. So, imagine breathing, but on a new earth with clean air and no sin, with Jesus and fellow believers for eternity. Don’t you want to take others with you? God is calling so many people to Himself, won’t you be His instrument?
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. (Isaiah 65:17 ESV)
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:5-7 ESV)
Jonathan Edwards was an interesting man. He was a theologian and pastor during the great American revivals of the 18th century. His sermon, “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God,” is still read in schools today. It’s the sermon that sparked a great revival. What many people don’t know about Edwards, is that he was a man who took living for Christ passionately and seriously. Dead serious. He looked at his life and wrote out resolutions, things he knew he knew he needed to do, in order to obey God and enjoy Him. Yes, enjoy God.
Take a look at a few of his resolutions at the bottom of the page. The question I have for you is: will you resolve to live yourself completely on mission for Christ? Will you surrender your weakness and ask God to be your strength? Will you strive with all your might to love God and know His word this year, and every year?
Until next time, peace in Christ
Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence.
Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.
Resolved, To be continually endeavouring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the forementioned things.
Resolved, If ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
Resolved, Never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God, nor be, nor suffer it, if I can possibly avoid it.