Christianity is a resolutions religion. It is about resolving to go in a certain direction. At the heart of our Christian experience is repentance and that is an experience of resolving to and actually changing your life. You realise you are going the wrong way and you turn around. One thing we start to learn immediately is that resolutions are of little or no consequence unless they lead to actuality. But perhaps we hasten on too quickly, we must first establish what a resolution is. Although the word may be defined in different ways, what we are referring to in the instance of this study is “A firm decision to do or not to do something.”
In God’s goodness we have been provided, as Christians, with two sacraments, that is outward signs with spiritual meanings which both involve resolutions. These are baptism and the Lord’s supper. Lets us consider these:-
- Baptism is the initiatory rite of the Christian Faith. When we are converted we are called by our God to be baptised. The baptism act involves a resolution to now live a new life. When we come up out of the water we are committing ourselves to a new life. This I summed up by Paul when he says We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Rom. 6:4). Baptism is a one-off event which we go through at the start of our Christian lives, but it should be an event which we think about every day. Everyday we should be remembering that on June 29th 1986 (in my case) I committed myself to living a new life.
- The Lord’s Supper is the ongoing rite of the Christian Faith. The Lord’s Supper which is celebrated in communion with other believers, is the event whereby we regularly commit ourselves to acknowledging Jesus as Lord. Implicit in the celebration is the resolution to live our lives acknowledging and honouring Jesus as Lord. In the feast we call all other participants (and angelic beings as well) to be witness that we are committed to live lives that honour the One who gave His life for us. Every Sunday, in the Lord’s Supper, we come together in church and we resolve to live in a godly way.
We are aware then that resolutions are part and parcel of our faith. The question we ask now is whether we should be making specific resolutions. Jonathan Edwards the outstanding Christian thinker of the eighteenth century famously made seventy resolutions when he was in his late teens. These can be found here. He prefaced these by saying “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will for Christ’s sake.” He also resolved to read the resolutions once a week.
Edwards, it seems to me gives us a good example in that he personalised Scripture so as to resolve to give his life a godly direction. But how should we go about this?
- Any resolution must be biblically based.
- If you do make specific resolutions bolt them to baptism and the Lords Supper. Use these two biblically established rites to galvanise you to keep your resolutions. They are after all God-given sacraments which assist us towards being established in righteousness. So be always taking your resolutions back to the newness of life commitment of baptism and the honouring of Christ commitment of the Lord’s Supper.
- Whether you write them down or not it seems to me that continually a Christian should be making resolutions. Every quiet time and every sermon heard should be producing resolutions.
- To help keep you accountable in keeping your resolutions it may be good to share them with someone else so that they can encourage you and rebuke you with a view keeping them.
- Resolutions are of a similar ilk to vows. In fact we can say that a resolution is a form of vow. And the Lord says Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfil them (Ps. 76:11a).
Finally here are a couple of resolutions one from the Old testament and one from the New.
- But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Josh. 24:15).
- For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1. Cor. 2:2).
Now they are a good couple of resolutions to start with.