Romans 6:23– “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Eternal life is only found in Jesus Christ. Our society has been enamored with the doctrine of relativism. In other words, what’s true to you is not necessarily true to me. Many apply this concept to heaven; however, the Bible makes it unmistakably clear that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. For example, Acts 4:12 says, “Neither is their salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Religion without a personal encounter with Jesus Christ will not save the soul.
Eternal life is the greatest gift ever given to mankind. One of my favorite childhood memories was “The Conner Family Christmas” gatherings. I remember walking into the hosting home and seeing a living room full of presents. Our tradition was opening the presents from the youngest to the oldest, one at a time. Some years it took three to five hours to open all the presents. As a child, I enjoyed every second of it! As I look back, I’ve realized none of those gifts are comparable to eternal life in Christ. James 1:17 says it best, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Eternal life cannot be earned by human merits. Good works, baptism, church membership, helping elderly ladies cross the street, giving to the poor, feeding the homeless, sponsoring an orphanage, and donating to a missionary are all great things to do, but they cannot earn eternal life. There is nothing man can do to obtain eternal life, but believe on Jesus Christ. Those attempting to earn eternal life will be sorely disappointed in the afterlife, according to the Holy Scriptures. Eph. 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Have you received God’s gift of eternal life?
My first time going to church camp was after I finished the seventh grade. Throughout my teenage years, it was the highlight of my summer. It’s just something special about unplugging from everything to focus all your attention on your spiritual walk. In those early years of camp, the things I enjoyed most were hanging out with my friends, the road trip with my youth group, playing games and meeting new people. Without fail, every year I would get on a fire for God, but the flame would quickly dwindle after returning home. Ironically, each year the fire grew larger, but when it burned out I drifted further away from God.
After finishing my sophomore year of high school, I knew God had something special in store for me that year at church camp. Interestingly enough, my entire family was going on vacation to the beach the same week my church was going to camp. At first, my parents said I couldn’t go to camp because they wanted me to go with them; however, they eventually changed their mind. I think back to those circumstances and wonder where I’d be today if I would of went to the beach instead of camp. God’s sovereign plan was at work in my life.
The atmosphere at Super Week was unexplainable and the worship experience was unbelievable. It seemed like every sermon was directed to me. I distinctively remember one of the sermons Jeremy Kingsley preached that week. It was about choosing Barabas or Jesus. The conviction of the Holy Spirit fell upon me. I was on the edge of my seat listening to every word he was preaching. My heart was pounding. During the invitation, I knelt at my seat and prayed. I remember praying these words, “God, I’m tired of playing church. Please forgive me of my sins.”
My conversion was different than most people. I did not pray with anybody. I did not pray the sinner’s prayer. I did not go forward during the invitation. I did not raise my hand. I did not talk to a counselor. I did not tell anybody what I did until after camp. In fact, I remember going to a room after the service with my church for discussion and prayer. I did not talk during the discussion and I did not pray out loud.
Although, on a Thursday evening of July 2005 my life was forever changed. Because of church camp, I am a child of God and heaven is my eternal home. The greatest decision I’ve ever made was done at church camp: I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. It is my prayer that God would continue to change lives at church camp like He did mine!
One of the highlights of my trip to Israel was visiting the Mount of Beatitudes. Standing at the top of the mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee was an unforgettable experience. While gazing at the wonderful view, I began to recall Jesus’ sermon on the mount when He said to seek first the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). On top of the Mount of Beatitudes, I was reminded of the importance of making Christ preeminent in my life.
Colossians 1:18 says, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” The word preeminence literally means “to be first in rank or influence.” Christ is to have the number one priority in the believer’s life. Giving Christ the preeminence allows Him to have the greatest influence. Does Jesus Christ have the preeminence in your life?
I’d like to briefly share with you three reasons why believers are called to give Christ preeminence:
Give Christ preeminence because He is God (Col. 1:15). Jesus Christ is co-equal, co-existent and co-eternal with God the Father and God the Spirit. The word image means the representation and manifestation of God. Jesus Christ was just as much God as God is God, and just as much man as man is man. He was fully God and fully man. Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. His purpose was to die on Calvary’s cross to pay the penalty for sin.
Give Christ preeminence because He created all things (Col. 1:16-17). Jesus Christ created all things in heaven and in earth. We live in a designed cosmos not an undesigned chaos! Jesus Christ created all things that are visible and invisible. Jesus Christ created all things to bring glory to His name. Jesus Christ is sovereign over His creation. Jesus Christ holds all things in the universe together by His providential hand.
Give Christ preeminence because He is the head of the church (Col. 1:18-20). News flash: Jesus is the head of the body of Christ! Jesus Christ defeated death, hell and the grave by marvelous and glorious resurrection. Jesus Christ is to rank first in the life of the believer. It’s time to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Does Christ reign supreme in your heart? Jesus Christ contains the divine, authoritative power to restore man’s relationship with God.
Jesus Christ is the image of God, the firstborn over creation, the creator of the universe, the head of the church, the firstborn from the dead, the fullness of God and the reconciler of all things. Is Christ preeminent in your life? Is Jesus number one in your life? Does Christ rank supreme in your heart?