Resolution 63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan. 14 and July 13, 1723. – Jonathan Edwards
As 2020 prepares to fade away forever – praise the Lord! – I have been thinking a lot about Jonathan Edwards’ 70 Resolutions, which he penned as a young man of 19.
I have them in a little booklet, and I read them fairly often. This New Year’s Eve seemed a particularly good time for me to read the resolutions again.
I have to confess that I’m of two minds about them. To be sure, they’re powerful and challenging. In those 70 resolutions, Edwards really demonstrated how much he loved the Lord, vowing to subject all his sins to immediate examination and repentance, to maintain respectable drinking and eating habits, to wholly consecrate himself to Jesus Christ in all things. Every single resolution is great. All those things Edwards resolved to do are exactly the things I want to do in my own life.
But then, I sometimes wonder, “How many of these resolutions did he really keep? It’s easy to write them. But it’s downright impossible to live all of them out.”
This is the problem with resolutions in general, whether they’re of the Edwards variety or the New Year’s “I really will work out every day next year, really!” variety. Easy to make, hard to keep. Why make resolutions at all, then?
I think I finally know why they’re valuable, after thinking about that question for many years. It seems to me that just by making the resolution, you’re doing something important. You’re acknowledging what you lack, naming what you want to gain and setting your sail in that direction.
As great as he was as a theologian and preacher, Edwards didn’t have to live out all 70 of his resolutions perfectly for us to see exactly what kind of Christian he was. For instance, read No. 55: “Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments.” That’s a very high bar he set for himself. Now, do any of us believe that he really acted to his utmost in every single life situation, every day, considering the happiness of heaven and the torments of hell? Maybe he did, but probably not. These are resolutions, after all — not carved-in-stone accomplishments.
Yet consider Edwards’ enduring legacy: a leading figure in the First Great Awakening, preacher of classic sermons like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” an eminent theologian-philosopher, missionary, Congregational pastor, president of Princeton University and the man who is still regarded as possessing the greatest mind that America ever produced.
How much of that legacy can be attributed to his resolutions as a teenager and his youthful resolve to live all of his life for the glory of God? Perhaps all of it!
Which brings me to 2020. I think many of us are still shell-shocked over what this year has wrought: a global pandemic, hundreds of thousands of deaths, lockdowns, masks, Karens, political tyrants who unconstitutionally shuttered churches but let abortion clinics operate normally, legal fights, riots in the name of “racial justice,” Marxists and anarchists setting fires, looting and killing people in the city streets, businesses driven into the ground, supply chains disrupted, an unprecedented coup against a sitting president, the reveal of a presidential candidate’s corrupt financial ties to Chinese Communists (a story promptly buried and blacked out by Big Tech), the dissemination of vastly coordinated Big Media propaganda to usher in a progressive administration, a banana-republic-level fraudulent presidential election, global elites threatening a Great Reset to end traditional capitalism and possibly prevent future travel without a COVID-19 passport and the potential beginning of the end of the United States of America as we know it. Remember: These are all events that came to us not by accident, but under the good Providence of our holy God.
Are we a nation under judgment? Clearly, we are. Some have said 9-11 was the Lord’s first serious warning to America to repent and the events of 2020 are His second serious warning. If that’s true, I don’t even want to envision what warning No. 3 would look like. But in any case, I don’t see much repenting.
I do know this, though. I’m taking up Edwards’ resolution No. 63 as my own next year (while still wanting to keep his other 69 resolutions!). But No. 63 is big enough to keep me busy. I included it at the top of this blog post. To sum up: If there were only one sold-out Christian to be had in the world next year, and for the rest of my life, I want to be that Christian.
I am not there. I’m so far from being that one “complete Christian” that I almost feel silly citing the resolution. But that’s where I want to go. I want to be totally sold out for Jesus, always. I want to deny myself and follow Him, love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, love my neighbor as myself, exhibit the fruits of the Spirit at all times, live a life of godliness and holiness, live a life of total integrity and put to death in me all the deeds of the flesh that would inhibit my growth in Christ. I want to fight the good fight. I want to finish the race. I want to keep the faith.
Wasn’t that really the point of every Edwards resolution? This is who I want to be as a Christian! This is where I want my life to go!
This is where we all need to go. Yet we also need to face reality as we make that resolution, because much as I pray for a calmer and better year ahead, the year 2021 may require more of us as Christians than 2020 ever did. We may suffer more. We may face more persecution. We may endure hardships we’ve never faced previously.
Will further hardships drive me away from the Lord, or will they strengthen my resolve to be sold out for Jesus and to be that one “complete Christian?” I pray for the latter. I hope you will do the same. But let me pose some hypothetical questions for all of us in advance.
If Joe Biden is sworn in as president, expect the Equality Act to become law. It will potentially strip your church and Christian school and Christian organizations of religious freedom like we’ve never seen before in American history. It will effectively criminalize biblical Christianity in the name of LGBT “anti-discrimination.” Will you follow Jesus, anyway?
If Big Tech ramps up Christian censorship online, exponentially increasing the clamp-down on what ministries and Christian organizations and individuals can say online .. will you follow Jesus, anyway?
If Cancel Culture comes for you because you’re a Christian, and if you lose your job or your family business for staying faithful to Scripture .. will you follow Jesus, anyway?
If you lose a loved one or multiple loved ones to a more virulent strain of COVID-19 in 2021 .. will you follow Jesus, anyway?
If the economy collapses, if global elites get their Great Reset, if the Constitution is shredded, if the things we could never imagine happening just a year ago actually happen .. will you follow Jesus, anyway?
We need to resolve now that no matter what happens next year, the answer to “Will you follow me?” is always “YES, LORD!”
After all, the events of 2021 are still under the sovereign control of the same God who sent His Son into the world to atone for our sins and to defeat sin and death by His resurrection. He is mighty to save, and He’s saved us by His grace! Having known such a magnificent Savior, having tasted the glories of eternal life, having started this ultimate race and fixed our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, why would we even think of dropping out now? We could be the last generation before Jesus comes back. We need to get ready! “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20)
If there were ever a time to be sold out for Jesus, this is that time. So I hope you’ll resolve with me this year to keep going, to be that one “complete Christian” in 2021 … no matter what.
“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.“