Sunday, August 9, 1998

Making the Most Important Decision

This message comes from Luis Palau, a world-wide well-known evangelist who dedicated his life long ago to Christ and to bringing people to Him.

As Christians we can all look back to the time in our lives when we made a commitment to Jesus Christ. I made that crucial decision while attending a two-week summer camp in the mountains of Argentina. Charles Cohen, one of my professors at the boarding school I attended as a boy, organized the camp each summer. My tent counselor's name was Frank Chandler.

Every night of the week during summer camp, Mr. Chandler would wake up one boy, get him out of bed, and--with a Bible in one hand and a flashlight in the other--take the boy outside. There, under the stars, he would sit down with the boy and lead him to faith in Christ.

Even though I felt guilty for my sins and knew I needed to make a Christian commitment, I didn't want to face up to the issue with anyone. But eventually every other boy had talked to Mr. Chandler. When he came into the tent that last night of camp, I knew why!

I pretended I was asleep, thinking he would go away. It didn't work. "Come on, Palau," he said, "get up." I didn't know it, but this was going to be the best night of camp. We went outside and sat down on a fallen tree.
"Luis," Mr. Chandler asked, "are you a Christian or not?"
I said, "I don't think so."
"Well, it's not a matter of whether you think so or not. Are you or aren't you?"
"No, I'm not."
"If you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell?"
I sat quietly for a moment, a bit taken back, and then said, "I'm going to hell."
"Is that where you want to go?"
"No," I replied.
"Then why are you going there?"
I shrugged my shoulders. "I don't know."
Mr. Chandler then turned in his Bible to Romans and read: "If you confess with your lips, Luis, that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart, Luis, that God raised him from the dead, you, Luis, will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved" (Romans 10:9-10 RSV, adapted).

He looked back at me. "Luis, do you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead?"
"Yes, I do," I replied.
"Then what do you have to do next to be saved?"

I hesitated, so Mr. Chandler had me read Romans 10:9 once more--"If you confess with your lips, Luis, that Jesus is Lord . . . you will be saved."

Mr. Chandler put his arm around me and led me in prayer. I opened my heart to Christ right there, out in the rain, sitting on a log, in a hurry. But I made my decision. I was only twelve years old at the time, but I knew I was saved. I had eternal life because Jesus Christ said, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:28).

I could hardly sleep, I was so excited about committing my life to Christ! After all, it is the most important decision anyone can ever make. When you think about it, compared to receiving eternal life, no other decision is nearly that important.

C.S. Lewis said it well: "No man is ready to live life on earth until he is ready for life in heaven." Together let's proclaim the gospel wherever the Lord leads so as many people as possible can be ready.

To Pursue

  • Ask God to give you an opportunity to share your testimony with a fellow Christian this week.
  • Then, ask the Lord to give you boldness to share it with someone who doesn't know Christ yet.