In the fast-paced, frantic, and frenetic world of the twenty-first century, our lives are consumed with making rapid decisions. Researchers tell us that the average person makes approximately 35,000 decisions every day. Assuming we sleep from seven to eight hours per day, that’s a whopping 2,000 decisions an hour, or one decision every two seconds. Some of our daily decisions have few long-term consequences, but others set us on a course for success or failure. The choices we make may allow us to achieve our long-term goals or can derail our best plans.

There is one choice, one decision above all others, that will determine not only the entire direction of our lives today and tomorrow but also our eternal destiny. Positive choices are important, but this choice is the most important of all. Good decision-making is critical, but no decision is more critical than this one. Men and women who have made this decision have discovered a new direction in their lives. They have experienced inner peace, a sense of calm, and serenity amid life’s greatest challenges. They have found the secret to lasting change and the strength to make wise choices. In fact, all of life hinges on this decision. The most important decision in life is the decision to accept Christ as our personal Savior and Lord. It is the choice to be filled with His love, redeemed by His grace, strengthened by His power, and guided by His Spirit.

This choice is far beyond conventional religious thinking. It is far beyond a superficial view of faith. It is much more than a formal assent to a church creed or set of beliefs. It is a radical transformation that comes from a relationship with the living Christ. It results from a deep appreciation of the Christ who loves me, died for me, forgives me, strengthens me, and is coming again for me.

from religious formality to a living experience

John Wesley, the famed Methodist preacher, was discouraged. His faith wavered. He didn’t feel he could continue to preach. He was exhausted, and his health was failing. As he contemplated death, he was afraid. His religion seemed inadequate to meet his need.

He disclosed to a friend that he felt he couldn’t continue in ministry. Then, on May 24, 1738, he opened his Bible at about five o’clock in the morning and came across these words in 2 Peter 1:4: There are “given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature.”1 Hope began to dawn in Wesley’s heart. Throughout the day, he contemplated his personal need for a vibrant experience with the living Christ. He was at a crossroads in his life.

Would he give up his ministry, or was there something more God had for him? That evening he made a choice—a decision that radically altered the direction of his life. He decided to attend a religious meeting at the Aldersgate Chapel in London. He had no idea how significant a decision it would be. One of Wesley’s biographers reveals that he attended the meeting “reluctantly.”

John Wesley sat in that simple chapel that night in rapt attention as he listened to a layperson read from Luther’s well-known Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. Later, he wrote these words in his journal: “While he [Luther] was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”2

Wesley’s heart was “strangely warmed.” His burden of guilt was lifted. The darkness that had engulfed his soul gave way to the dawn of a new day. His despair disappeared on wings of hope. His doubt dissolved as faith rose in his heart. In his weakness, he found in Christ new courage and strength. He left the meeting that night with a renewed sense of the salvation that was his by faith in Christ. He left with the assurance of sins forgiven, redemption assured, and the gift of eternal life freely given.

no condemnation in Christ

An understanding of the salvation freely offered by Christ in the book of Romans changed John Wesley’s life, and it can change ours too. It led him from the depths of despair to the delights of discipleship. In Romans 8, verse 1, we read, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” There is no what? No condemnation. The Greek word translated as “condemnation” is a very specific word. It means a judgment against someone, including the penalty following the sentence. It means not only that the person is guilty but also that the punishment for that guilt must be executed. What Paul is saying is that in Christ, we have been delivered from the condemnation of the judgment.

Jesus: Our Savior and Deliverer

Jesus entered the arena of human affairs to fight the battle in common with all humanity. He took upon Himself our nature to identify with us. He came to defeat Satan with no decided advantage over us. In Hebrews 2:17, we read “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

Ellen White, in her book The Desire of Ages, makes this insightful observation: “If we had to bear anything which Jesus did not endure, then upon this point Satan would represent the power of God as insufficient for us. Therefore, Jesus was ‘in all points tempted like as we are.’ Hebrews 4:15. He endured every trial to which we are subject. And He exercised in His own behalf no power that is not freely offered to us. As man, He met temptation, and overcame in the strength given Him from God.”3

Someone has aptly written,

“If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.

“If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.

“If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.

“If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.

“But our greatest need was freedom from the penalty and power of sin, so God sent us a Savior.”

When we come to the end of ourselves, when we fully realize our inability to serve God and, in utter helplessness, look up to Jesus Christ to do for us that which we cannot do for ourselves, and when we surrender every thought and every purpose and every desire and every action and all of our appetites and passions to His absolute control, Jesus takes charge of our lives and sets us free from the power of sin that dwells in our very natures and brings us into conformity to the will of God.

When Christ dwells in us, we are set free from the tyranny and domination of our sinful natures. This is what Paul makes clear to the Romans. Under the old order, it is impossible to do the will of God. We may know what is right, but we do not have the power to do it. We may desire to do the right thing but repeatedly fail because we are too weak to accomplish our desires. We may even want to overcome unhealthful habits and negative attitudes but keep lapsing back to those old habit patterns repeatedly. (See Romans 7:14–25).

Jesus has triumphed over the principalities and powers of hell. He overcame in the weakness of our human nature. Through Christ, we, too, can be victorious. His power and grace are ours as daily we sense that we are His and He is ours. Daily we hunger to know Him better. Daily we discover the joy of fellowship with Him.

the simplicity of the gospel

Jesus faced the full force of Satan’s temptations and was victorious. He lived the life we should have lived. He succeeded where humanity failed. He then took upon Himself the condemnation and penalty of sin on the cross. He “who knew no sin” became “sin for us” (2#160;Corinthians 5:21). “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). To accept Christ simply means to make a conscious decision to receive the salvation He so freely offers. It is accepting by faith His sacrifice on the cross as the atonement for our sins. It is receiving the redemption He so freely offers. It is believing that He loves me, died for me, lives for me, strengthens me, and is coming again for me. It is personally choosing Jesus as my Savior and Lord, the only way to true freedom and happiness.

the door to freedom

An Arab chief tells a story of a spy who was captured and then sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between a firing squad and a big, black door. As the moment for execution drew near, the spy was brought to the Persian general, who asked the question, “What will it be—the firing squad or the big, black door?”

The spy hesitated for a long time. It was a difficult decision. He chose the firing squad.

Moments later, shots rang out, confirming his execution. The general turned to his aide, who asked, “What lies beyond the big door?”

“Freedom,” replied the general “I’ve known only a few brave enough to take it.”

The door of salvation lies before you. Will you walk through it and discover the freedom, the peace, the forgiveness, and the strength that only Jesus Christ can offer? The choice is yours, and it is the most important choice you will ever make. 

Mark A. Finley is a pastor and international evangelist for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the former director and speaker for the It Is Written television program.

1. Bible verses in this article are quoted from the New King James Version.

2. The Journal of John Wesley, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, accessed July 26, 2022, https://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/journal.vi.ii.xvi.html.

3. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press®, 1940), 25.

Life’s Most Important Decision

by Mark A. Finley
  
From the November 2022 Signs