Do you ever find yourself in a devout frame, with clear notions of the gospel and another world? I know what you’re thinking… who says devout frame? What are you, from the 1700s? No, but a whole lot of people—who are now living in light of the gospel with Christ in heaven—were alive on earth struggling to live in light of the gospel during the 1700s. Many of their words are still encouraging in 2012. I don’t know about you, but I love the encouragement of our brothers and sisters who have gone to be with Christ. I am so thankful for their pursuit of God and the legacy of dependence on Christ they have left. One of my favorite “dead” guys (he will rise again with Christ) is Jonathon Edwards. At just 18 in 1722 Edwards began to pen what have come to be known as the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. His resolutions have been a consistent source of encouragement in my life. To read what Edwards wrote at the age of 18 stirs a desire to live in such a way that would leave a legacy for Christ.
One of his resolutions, #18, (“Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world”) has stirred my heart over the last year again and again. What does it mean to live so at all times, as I think best in my devout states? You know those moments, the ones where the purposes of Christ are clear, where His desires are your desires? I am sure there have been many, but I remember a few. I remember sermons where the preaching of God’s word has stirred my affections to resolve to change; times of meditation on the Word that have given me such clear, and yet over whelming, thoughts of who God is and who I am before Him. But what comes of those thoughts? What comes from that moment of clarity on the grace of God? What allows a man like Edwards, or people like us, to not just have moments of clarity, but lives of purpose? What allows us to live in light of the gospel? Or as Paul says walk worthy of our calling?
How did Edwards have such thoughts of clarity and resolve as such a young man? I think it was his love for the Word of God. Edwards’ resolutions are encouraging but mostly because they reflect a heart that was changed, by the grace of God. Through the means of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, Edwards resolved to live as a man of the Word of God. How do you live when your thoughts of the gospel were clear?
How do we put off sin and put on righteousness? (Ephesians 4:20-24) How do we put away sin and live by the Word, not merely a hearer but a doer? (James 1:21-24) When you feel your heart fleeing from loving your spouse, you go back to God’s clear design in marriage and the intentions it stoked in your heart. (Ephesians 5:22-31) When you find your heart turning to wrath against your children, you remember your intentions when you meditated on God’s desire and example for loving fathers. (Ephesians 6:4, Matthew 7:11, Hebrews 12:5-11) When your heart becomes cowardly and seeks to “just be nice” rather than share the Gospel, you remember your intentions when the great commission and the blessing of proclaiming the Gospel was most clear to you. (Matthew 28:19-20, Romans 10:14-15)
How many clear thoughts are we missing? If we are not men and women of the Word, dependent on the Spirit, we can never be men and women of resolve. The power to live as we resolve, comes from the grace and the work of the Gospel, as we rest on the promises of His Word.