Three Gospel Resolutions, Part 1
About the Guest
Each new year millions of people make resolutions, from the silly to the noble ... and by the second week of the year, most of them are broken or forgotten. Bob Lepine provides the first of three Gospel Resolutions--something worth resolving.
Each new year millions of people make resolutions, from the silly to the noble … and by the second week of the year, most of them are broken or forgotten.
Three Gospel Resolutions, Part 1
Bob: I want you to imagine for a moment that you were sitting down at the table with Jesus and making plans for resolutions for the New Year. What kind of counsel do you think He would give you?
This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, December 30th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We are going to talk today about a new way to think about resolutions for the coming year.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today; thanks for joining us on the—
Dennis: Do you like the speaker on today’s broadcast, Bob?
Bob: How am I supposed to answer that? How do you answer that question?
Dennis: The reason is, folks, Bob Lepine is going to be giving a message that he gave about a year ago, a message about New Year’s resolutions.
Bob: Do you make resolutions? Do you do that every year?
Dennis: Yes. Kind of. Kind of.
Bob: I made a resolution years ago never to make resolutions—
Bob: And I’ve kept that. I’ve stuck with that one.
Dennis: You are going to enjoy this message that Bob Lepine gives here in a few moments. We just wanted to step in here and remind you: We only have two days left to take full advantage of the matching gift that has been established here for FamilyLife Today.
Bob: That would be today and tomorrow that we need to hear from you. Here is what has happened. We had some friends of the ministry back at the beginning of the month came to us and said, “We want to encourage FamilyLife Today listeners to support the ministry.” So, they put up a little more than two million dollars as a matching gift fund. They said, “For every dollar that you receive, you can take a dollar out of the fund.”
Our listeners heard about that and started responding. It was great. Then, we had some other families come along and say, “We want to add to the matching fund. We want to see it grow.” So, in fact, it has now gone up over three million dollars. We are near the end of the month. We haven’t hit three million dollars yet.
Dennis: That is right. That is the challenge to this thing, Bob. It is the largest matching gift we’ve ever had in the thirty-four year history of FamilyLife. So, we are coming to you as a listener saying, “Could you help us take full advantage of more than three million dollars that has been established to come along side FamilyLife Today to keep us on this radio station, to keep us producing resources for you and your family, your marriage and do that with a generous gift here today or tomorrow?” It has to be by midnight tomorrow night.
Bob: Honestly, it is going to be tough to do. It would be a shame not to be able to take full advantage of these matching funds that have been made available. We are just asking folks if you would do whatever it is you can do—if that is a ten dollar donation, a fifty dollar donation, a hundred, five hundred. I mean, some folks can make a thousand or a couple thousand dollar donation that would be wonderful.
We need to hear from you today either online or by phone. Call 1-800-FL-TODAY or make a donation online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Those funds will unlock some of the matching funds for us. We will be able to draw out of that matching fund. We hope to take as much advantage as we can of those funds.
Dennis: We knew when this fund was established it was going to stretch our giving audience; yet, that was what was really in the minds of those who help establish the matching challenge. They said, “You know what? Let’s see if we can’t see a record amount of giving here for FamilyLife Today to really put some wind beneath their wings as they move into the New Year.”
Folks, I’m asking you, “Can you help us?” We sure would appreciate it. For those of you who can’t give, would you pray? Pray that God will grant us favor in battle and that He will raise up those to take full advantage of more than three million dollars here at year end.
Bob: 1-800-FL-TODAY, the number to call or go online at FamilyLifeToday.com. We just want to say thanks in advance for whatever you are able to do. We appreciate your support of this ministry.
Dennis: Now we need to listen to a message that given by a guy that Bob really likes.
Dennis: In fact, his message was really a treat. It was actually given to all of those couples who speak at our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways, our speaker team. It was given a little less than a year ago, early January. I think you are going to benefit from this as you find out about how to make not New Year’s resolutions but Gospel resolutions.
Bob: By this time of the year if you’ve made any New Year’s resolutions, you’ve probably reneged on at least one of them, right? We start out with good intentions in a New Year, but I don’t know how long it takes for you before those good intentions start to fade. Maybe it is because our resolutions are wrongly set. That is what I want to talk to you about this morning.
Jonathan Edwards when he was nineteen years old wrote out a list of seventy resolutions. If you were to read them, you would be struck by how shallow your spiritual life is compared to the depth of this nineteen year old young man. Who in his resolutions, he purposed that he would read these seventy daily for the rest of his life. Now, that would be a resolution I would break right off the top of the bat.
I not only can’t read my resolutions every day but to have seventy of them would just kind of load me up. I’m a simple guy; so, I’m going to suggest to you this morning what I think are three resolutions that need to be our daily resolutions. Not just in the new year but probably for the rest of our lives, three new life resolutions.
Most resolutions that we make are either a pledge for some kind of self discipline or they are a pledge for some kind of moral improvement. Now, I’m not against self discipline, and I’m not against moral improvement. In fact, self discipline: we are to discipline ourselves, Paul tells Timothy, for the purpose of godliness. 1Timothy 4:7 “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.”
The word for discipline there is gymnadzo. It means go to the gym. It means that you are to be in the spiritual gym on a regular basis—on a daily basis—for the purpose of godliness. If you want to be more like God, you have got to go to the spiritual gym. So, I’m not against moral improvement, and I’m not against discipline.
In fact, there are some things that are right about that. It is God’s will for each of us to be more and more conformed into the image of Christ. Moral improvement and self discipline are a part of how that happens. It is the desire of every person who really loves Jesus to want to know him more and to look more like him. So, it is the right motivation to want that to happen.
Hebrews 12 says that there is a peaceable fruit that accompanies righteousness. We long for peaceable fruit in our lives, don’t we? I mean, we long for our lives to be full of peaceable fruit. Hebrews 12 says that accompanies righteousness. So, if you want peaceable fruit, the pursuit of righteousness is the pursuit of peaceable fruit. So, there is no problem with moral improvement.
I’m a little concerned because I see some people today, especially young people, who tend to equate the desire for righteousness or moral improvement with legalism. They look at the desire for holiness; and they go, “Man, look, I’m free in Christ, okay? I have freedom in Christ; so, don’t trip me up with all that legalistic stuff.”
Well, here is what we need to know: Freedom in Christ is not freedom from holiness. God did not set you free so you don’t have to be holy. That is not what freedom in Christ is about. Freedom in Christ is freedom from slavery to sin. Freedom to obey Christ, which you didn’t have before you came to faith.
So, a person says, “Man, I’m free in Christ.” Isn’t it great you are no longer a slave to sin? You are now a slave to righteousness. That is what your freedom in Christ is all about. Hallelujah! Galatians 5:13 is a key verse. It says, “You were called to freedom, but do not use your freedom to gratify the flesh.”
There are—and I’m picking on young people. I guess there are grownups who are like this too, but I just see a lot of young people today “I’m free in Christ.” Yes. You are free in Christ. Do not use your freedom to gratify the flesh; you are free in Christ to love and serve Him and others. That is what you are free in Christ for. Then, it goes on to say, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
So, I believe that for many the impulse behind moral improvement and self discipline is reflecting the way we were created to live—to live righteously before God, holy, righteous lives that honor Him, give evidence of His transforming grace in our lives. I think that is a good impulse, but I want to suggest to you this morning that I think many people—many of us—pursue moral improvement in a way that is not founded on the centrality of the Gospel and the reality of the Cross of Christ.
Here is what I mean by that. For some, the approach to moral improvement falls right into the middle of the Galatian problem. You remember when Paul challenged the church of Galatia or in the regions of Galatia. You remember this? All of the New Testament letters begin with a commendation: Paul saying, “I thank God always in my remembrance of you” except the Galatians letter. He doesn’t thank his God always in remembrance of them. Why? Because they’ve lost the Gospel.
Said, “I don’t have time to thank God. I’ve got to get to the urgent issue. You foolish Galatians, I don’t care if an angel comes in here preaching another Gospel; you don’t buy it. He is an anathema.” He gets to Galatians 3, and Paul says, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” Then he says, “Having begun in the Spirit, why are you now trying to perfect in the flesh?”
I think many make these resolutions for moral improvement for self discipline and what they try to do is they try to perfect in the flesh what was begun in the Spirit. I’m going to talk about what I think that means and why I think that is a problem here. Some New Year’s resolutions are a pitiful attempt to be perfected in the flesh.
I’m going to resolve; I’m going to try harder; I’m going to do better; I’m going to clean up my act; I’m going to use my strength; I’m going to do the best I can to live a better life. That is a Galatian problem.
If Paul was here this morning and we were saying that he would say, “You foolish people who has bewitched you?” The kind of pursuit of moral improvement—one of the other reasons this is a problem, this kind of pursuit of moral improvement is because it evidences a confident in the flesh. If it succeeds—if you say I’m going to my best to improve morally and you do, guess what that leads to? Pride. I can do that. I can do other things. If you try and fail, what does that lead to? Condemnation.
So, when you try for moral improvement whether you succeed or whether you fail, you are lead to sin. So, to pull yourself by your own boot straps as it were and try to improve yourself spiritually can lead to corrupted spiritual fruit. Catch this: if you think to yourself—this is a subtle thought that is in the back of our minds—there is a subtle thought that says, “If I can become a better person, God will become more pleased with me.”
You need to understand that that is a denial of the Cross of Christ. That is a false Gospel because what you are thinking when you think that is that somehow God is pleased with you on the basis of your performance not the finished work of Christ, not the righteousness of Christ. If you are thinking even subtly that your performance merits the favor of God that is a dangerous, heretical, damnable lie.
So, instead of making New Year’s resolutions for moral improvement or self discipline, I want to suggest three new life resolutions that we need to make and keep. I believe these resolutions need to mark our lives as I said not just in the New Year but throughout our lives.
First of all, we need to daily, consciously reaffirm the Lordship of Christ over our lives. That is resolution number one. Daily, consciously reaffirm the Lordship of Christ over your life. Declare it. Secondly, we need to daily, consciously repent. Thirdly, we need to daily, consciously re-believe the Gospel. Reaffirm the Lordship of Christ, repent, and re-believe the Gospel as a daily discipline, consciously doing that.
I believe that if we want not just this year but the rest of our lives to have real change and real moral improvement, these resolutions are the key. Now I’m going to unpack these for you. This is nothing new for you. You’ve heard this before. I think these resolutions may sound simple and self evident; but to live them out as a daily, conscious focus in our lives is, I believe, transformational for every one of us.
That first resolution to reaffirm the Lordship of Christ over our lives is really a reaffirmation that He rules, He reigns, and He has the right to call the shots. It is a daily acknowledgement that He is God and you are not. It is a daily reaffirmation that first of all is built on the fact that there is a God and He is our Creator.
You understand the principle: what you create is yours. If we were here arguing intellectual property law this morning, we would argue the fact that what is your created work, you own. No one else can own it. You control it. You decide what it can and how it can and can’t be used, what happens to it.
Well, God is our Creator, we are His intellectual property. He owns us. It is His decision how His intellectual property gets used. He has made us for Himself. We are His. We are not our own. We have been bought with a price. Life is for Him, it is about Him. He designed it. He rules over it. Our existence belongs to Him. He gives us life. He gives us breath so that we can enjoy, we can do what He created us to do which is to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.
Now, when you repent and believe the Gospel for the first time when you get saved or you are born again or you become a Christian, give your life to Christ whatever expression you want to use for it, what happens in that moment is that your life is repurposed. Your life is taken from the wrong purpose that you have assigned to it, and it is repurposed to what the original Manufacturer’s design for it was. That is what happens when a person passes from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of Light.
The calibration—well, it is like this. You take your car in to get the wheels realigned, right? What has happened over time as you drive your car is that wheels have started to move so that they are not pointed in the right direction. The realignment puts it on that machine and calibrates it so that they are now pointed in the direction it was designed to point in. So, that the tires will last longer.
When we come to faith in Christ, there is a—Dennis has said for years—a spiritual wheel alignment that takes place in your life that recalibrates your life to what the original purpose for it was. What I am suggesting to you is that recalibration is not a once for all recalibration; but that daily acknowledging, re-acknowledging, reaffirming the right of God to rule over your life is the recalibration of your life to His purposes. It is a reaffirmation that He is in control and you are not, He is God, His purposes rule and reign and yours don’t.
When you are reaffirming the Lordship of Christ over your life every day, you are acknowledging that there is a natural drift in your life away from His purposes and plan. That is the natural drift of your life every day. It is the flesh. We need to re-acknowledge His right to rule and reign and to hold sway over our lives. It presupposes that we agree that the Manufacturer knows best how our lives ought to be calibrated.
So, resolution number one: re-acknowledge the Lordship of Christ, His Kingship, His ownership over your life. Now we say that, and we all confess Jesus is Lord. Functionally, is that how we live?
I was watching the Cowboys and the Eagles—was watching the game. It occurred to me as you watch professional football games. It is really interesting. Before every play is run, there is a gathering of a group of multimillionaires on both sides of the ball. Have you ever thought about this?
These multimillionaires on both sides of the ball get together and through the helmet of one of the multimillionaires instructions are sent from somebody who is paid much less than him on what he’s supposed to do next. Then, he tells everybody else what they are going to do. Then, they get up, and they run the play. When the play is over, they all huddle up and say “What’s next?” The low paying guy tells them what’s next; and then, they all go out and do it.
From time to time, the quarterback will come up and he has been given permission by the coach to audible and make a change in the play. For the most part, seventy plays a game the millionaires are being told by the lesser paid guys what to do, and they are running the plays. How often do we huddle up? How often do we in our lives stop and say, “Okay, Lord, what is the play? What do I do? What do you want?”
This is not the case of the millionaire asking the lesser paid guy. This is the place of the creation asking the Creator, “Lord, what’s next?” Huddle up. Do you huddle up in the Word, in prayer with others who love Him to find out? Then, how often do you get to the end of the line and say “I’m calling the play” instead of running what God’s told you to run?
There is a little song we used to teach our children when they were little and having a grandbaby brings some of these things back to life, right? Mary Ann used to teach them to sing “Good Morning, God. This is your day. I am your child. Show me your way.” You don’t have to be two to sing that or four or seven. We ought to all sing that every day: “Good Morning, God. This is your day. I am your child. What is the play? What do I do?”
Dennis: Well, we’ve been listening to a message given by co-host of FamilyLife Today Bob Lepine. You know, it really is a timely message, Bob, of challenging people here as they start a new year to surrender afresh to the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Maker, the Master, the Creator of the Universe, Jesus Christ. As you just said in that little song that Mary Ann used to sing to your kids, “Show me the way Lord” and let me get on with the play.
Bob: It is really an issue of lordship. Who is in control? Who is in charge? Who is calling the shots in your life? Honestly, we have to daily wean ourselves away from the impulses of our own flesh from the impulses of the culture around us that is trying to pull us in its direction—
Dennis: No doubt about that.
Bob: From the temptation and lies of the enemy who wants us to be disconnected from God. So, we have to be purposeful, intentional about going to God and saying, “I am your slave. I’m here to do your work. What is it you’d have me do today?” That is not just a thing you do at the beginning of a new year, and then it lasts you all year long. It is a daily, moment by moment surrendering of self to do the will of God in your life.
Dennis: Bob, you will remember an interview you and I did shortly before Dr. Bill Bright’s death. It is one of our favorites that we have ever done here on FamilyLife Today. This really is a part of his life message. Being a bond slave of Jesus Christ, moment by moment walking with Him in total, absolute surrender saying, “Not my will but Your will.”
I think as you move into a New Year reaffirming the Lordship of Jesus Christ is probably the best resolution you can possibly make as we move into a new year filled with new opportunities.
Bob: If any of our listeners have not read CJ Mahaney’s book—it is just a little book—The Cross Centered Life, they ought to make a New Year’s resolution to read that book because it will turn your focus to where, I think, where our focus ought to be as we head into the New Year. Of course, we have got the book at our FamilyLife Today Resource Center; so, you can find out more about the book online. FamilyLifeToday.com is the website.
Come to our website and find out how you can have a copy of CJ’s book sent to you. Let me also mention the message you’ve heard today is available as an MP3 download on FamilyLifeToday as are all of our daily programs. If you want to go back and search topically and find programs we’ve done on subjects that may be of particular interest to you, look through the website FamilyLifeToday.com.
The audio files are available for free download. You can sign up to receive FamilyLife Today as a podcast. If you have an iPhone, you can download the iPhone App for FamilyLife Today from the App Store on your iPhone. That way FamilyLife Today is always available at the push of a button. Goes back for a couple of weeks; so, if you missed a program, you can find a recent program and listen to it as well.
Quickly, let me remind our listeners of what you shared at the beginning of today’s program, Dennis. Today, tomorrow the last two days you can make a year-end donation to FamilyLife Today and help us take advantage of the now more than three million dollar matching gift fund that has been established. We are down to the wire. Frankly, we need to hear from as many listeners as possible today and tomorrow.
Let me ask you to do whatever you can do if it is a five or a ten or a twenty dollar donation that would be a help. So, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call us at 1-800-FL-Today and make a donation over the phone. If you can’t make a donation, pray for us that we will be able to take full advantage of these matching gift funds, that we don’t lose out on the funds that have been set aside for this matching gift. Let me just say thanks in advance for whatever you are able to do in support of this ministry. We appreciate your partnership with us.
We want to invite you to be back with us tomorrow when we are going to hear part two the message on three Gospel centered resolutions for the New Year.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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