Posted 1/11/19

I'm not much for the typical new year's resolution, for many are made and few are kept for any length of time. But, when I hear the word resolution I think most often of Ben Franklin. Many of his …

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I'm not much for the typical new year's resolution, for many are made and few are kept for any length of time. But, when I hear the word resolution I think most often of Ben Franklin. Many of his quotes would make great resolutions for a new year and would be worthwhile to abide by daily.  

I will look at a couple of his quotes momentarily but first I want to mention another Benjamin Franklin, often called the "Pioneer Preacher" (West, Earl,  "Ben Franklin, Eye of the Storm", 1984).   

This Franklin would be the great, great nephew of the patriot and statesman of the Colonial Era. He was born February 1, 1812 and died on October 22, 1878. "He developed into one of the most powerful proclaimers of the ancient gospel ever known on American soil. He quoted scripture voluminously and was a gospel preacher in everything the term implies" (West, Search 1, 102-03). "With tongue and pen he had fought the good fight"( West, Eye 336). "The favorite theme of his writing and the sole theme of his preaching was the plan of salvation and a plea for that simple gospel and the restoration of the church according to the apostolic pattern (Garrison, W.E.-An American Religious Movement, 1945).

Now a couple of Ben Franklin, the patriot, quotes and the biblical connection. 

"Be at war with your vices and at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better person." Webster defines vice as an immoral habit or practice, or evil conduct.  I think we can all think of things that would fit under this category.  

Evil conduct could include "works of the flesh" as listed in Gal 5:19-21. Being at war with one's vices could certainly include not yielding to temptation.  I Cor 10:13 ... "but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" or "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).  

Matt 22:37-39 tells us we "must love the Lord with all heart, soul and mind and second to that, love thy neighbor as thyself". If this is done we will truly be at peace with our neighbors.  And then, how do we become a better person? James 4:14-17 tells us that life is like a vapor, appearing for a little time and then vanishing away, thus the need to spend our time doing good according to God's will and not boasting about our deeds. Why? "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not to him it is sin" (vs 17).  Or, "What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul"? (Matt 16:26).  

In II Pet 3:10-11 considering that judgment will come as a thief in the night, the question is asked "what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness" concerning that day. Living the Christian life makes one a better person each day.

The second quote of Franklin reads like this; "How  many observe Christ's birthday!  How few his precepts". "Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently (Psa 119:4).  "Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way (Psa 119:104).  Precepts are God's word or the gospel or the faith; all terms that can be used interchangeably. And this word of the Lord "endureth forever and this is the word by which the gospel is preached unto you (I Pet 1:25). 

Therefore, we are to keep Gods precepts, through which we get understanding and which is the gospel, once delivered and complete with no further additions (Jude 3). Through study one is able to distinguish between God's precepts and unauthorized commandments of men which would result in vain worship (Matt 15:9). 

 Christ's birth was important but what was most important was his death which we are commanded to observe every first day of the week (Acts 20:7, I Cor 11) and which many do not, due to a lack of respect for God's commandments. We need to "search the scriptures" (Acts 17:11) to make sure everything we do in worship is justified by scripture; if not it most likely needs to be omitted.

In closing, if we live by the inspired word, resolutions are unnecessary. Remember these words; "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Col 3:17) and "If any man speak let him speak as the oracles of God..." (I Pet 4:11).

Ted Craven is a member of the McArthur Heights Church of Christ and can be reached

at tedcraven@bellsouth.net.