So, here we are: New Year’s Eve, a night to give thanks for the blessings of the outgoing year, a night for praying God’s favor during the upcoming year; a night, of course, when we make resolutions for the upcoming year.
By the end of the night, I imagine, many of you will resolve to stop smoking, lose weight, get fit, organize yourself, or quit drinking. Those are heavy, hefty promises! Will you succeed?
Make no mistake, God rejoices in our good resolves; in fact, He even fulfills our good resolves. Paul wrote in to the early Christians this prayer: “[I] always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12). It is the duty of all Christians to seek God’s power to fulfill our good resolves. That is one reason why we are here tonight.
But we are also here tonight to ponder that the Lord has a resolution too. Let’s have the Lord’s servant Paul describe this resolution:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39).
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). What an astounding resolution! God’s resolve begins with the gift of Christ Jesus. God gave his Son into death for you.
But it doesn’t end there! This one resolution multiplies into an abundance of gifts. If God was willing to give us his own dear Son, surely he will “graciously give us all things.” Compared to the gift of his Son, everything else is pocket change.
Think about all the wonderful things God has resolved to do: to give you the love of parents and grandparents; to provide you with meaningful work, so you don’t have to sit around watching the grass grow; to give you material blessings too many to count—food to eat, a home to live in, clothes to wear, and so on.
Not only that, he is resolved to not leave you alone but to give you to each other. What a blessing that can be. What a blessing you can be—to this person standing beside you and, together, to the people God puts into your lives—your neighbors, your family, your employers, your children, your church.
These are all parts of God’s good resolve, God’s good purpose. But—remember!—they are a pittance compared to the real resolution, the resolution that makes all these other gifts possible and meaningful: “He… did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Romans 8:32).
Tonight, you will resolve to spend more time with your family or quit drinking. And maybe you will make this resolve not just to yourself but to your spouse. Will you have all you need to succeed?
Perhaps we should pause to define success. As God defines it, success does not guarantee you’ll never really have to use your will-power. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never want to touch a drink or a cigarette again. God may give you these things, or he may not. It may depend on whether they will prove helpful or harmful in making you “successful” as God defines it, whether or not they are good resolves.
Success, as God defines it, is that nothing ever come between you and him, that His resolve will never, ever be forgotten. Success, as God defines it, would have you faithful and active in his Church, sharing together, again and again, in the gift of gifts God has given you in Christ. Success, as God defines it, would be that His resolution to you, your Savior Jesus, would be the pride and joy of our life together, and that you would never grow tired of talking to him in prayer, and thanking him for your joys, and asking his help and wisdom with the joys and sorrows we will share together.
So, will you have all you need to succeed—as God defines success? In his gift of Christ, you already do!
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35–39).
All you need to succeed—as God defines success—God has given you, wrapped up in Christ Jesus. He died for your sin; he rose for your justification; he lives to intercede for you, to strengthen you in all your good resolves, to supply you, as God’s man, as God’s woman, as husband and wife, as parents, as workers, as children in the family of our Father. With this as the foundation of your life, be confident that when you leave this place tonight, you leave with all you need to succeed, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.