Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47, NKJV).
Once every 4-8 weeks, I give an invitation for attenders to receive Jesus as their Savior — to “be saved” as Acts 2:47 terms it.
This past weekend was one of those weekends, and what a powerful response! We identified 49 people who received Jesus as their Savior. That is awesome! I am so humbled and grateful that God would allow undeserving ME to be part of a great team of people who lead others into his kingdom. That brings us to over 2,000 professions of faith in the last 5 years!
It was especially cool coming on the heels of 42 baptisms the previous weekend.
I thought it would be good to describe what I see when we do this.
First, I preach. That’s essential, because it’s the message of the Cross of Christ that contains the saving power.
But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, (1 Corinthians 1:23, NKJV).
Then we go to prayer. I invite the audience to bow their heads and close their eyes. I do this to create a quiet space for prayer, and for God’s Spirit to speak. I usually say so.
Next, I give a brief synopsis of the gospel, maybe 4-6 sentences. “Jesus had you personally in mind when he went to the Cross. On that Cross, he paid for every sin, and every obstacle that keeps you from God. Because of Jesus, the gift of life is absolutely free. It is yours for the taking, and yours for the believing.” I don’t belabor it, because I’ve already preached it.
Then I offer a sample prayer, and invite people to echo that prayer to God in the quietness of their own heart. That prayer always follows the same pattern: ABC
A stands for ADMIT: God, I admit I need you. I have not lived up to your standards, I haven’t even lived up to my own standards. I fall short, and I can’t get to you by my own power. God, I admit I need you today.
B stands for BELIEVE: God I believe Jesus is my one and only way to you. I believe he is your Son. I believe he died on the Cross, and rose again, for me. I believe he paid for my sins when he died on the Cross. I don’t understand how it works, God, but I’m telling you as best I can that I believe Jesus is my way to you.
[A and B are primarily functions of the mind. This is the objective, analytical part of faith. The next part is an act of the WILL, and this is utterly essential for salvation, however you word it, because faith is an act of the WILL, in response to the gospel truth in the MIND.]
C stands CHOOSE. So God, right now, I choose to receive Jesus. I embrace him as my only hope for time and eternity. I also choose to turn away from all other confidences. Not my religion, not my good works, not my anything. Just Jesus. I choose Jesus alone. And I’m asking you as best as I can, for Christ’s sake, right now, please save me, God.
After that prayer, I give an assurance that God has never rejected anybody who has come to him through faith in Christ.
Then I mention that there’s a celebration in heaven for every lost sheep who comes back to the Shepherd. And I suggest that we’d like to celebrate too. I promise not to embarrass anyone or single them, out. But I ask them to tell me right then and there in a simple way.
I ask them to lift their head, and look at me. My friend, Tim Ramsden, taught me how to do this. I was always nervous, and Tim was the Yoda of this kind of invitation. It works for me; I’m comfortable with it.
That’s when the cool stuff, the glory, the power… happens.
I wish you could see what I see.
- Some people are smiling the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. They light up the room, and they’re eager for me to see them.
- Others are weeping. It’s that powerful and real. Salvation is the power of God. People being saved is the sign and wonder that really counts.
- Sometimes they’re shy… and this is mostly men. They freeze their head so their neighbor doesn’t sense their movement, and they lift their eyes only, and wait for me to notice them. This is awesomely cool, and I understand.
- A lot of kids get saved, and they’re always excited.
- I’d say about 75% are males. This is also highly cool, and against the averages, I think.
- In come cases, it’s a whole family or a couple or a whole row of seats. That is so entirely amazing I can’t describe it. Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, AND YOUR HOUSE.” It’s so dang biblical, it’s great to see it happen before my eyes.
- Pierced, tatooed, shaggy, mostly young, but senior citizens too. Very cool.
- This past weekend, in the Classic service, a gentleman fought to open his eyes. I watched him… the internal struggle was that great. Finally, he looked at me, and smiled. I acknolwedged him. And he got up of his own accord, came to the front, knelt down, and crossed himself. I made sure some of our best prayer team counselors talked w/him. His name was Emil, and he was totally psyched.
In each case, I say something simple like “Welcome to God’s family” or “He loves you” and move on to the next person. I try to keep count, because people count.
Then I pray for them and the whole church. We celebrate God’s power in Christ.
Last, we stand, and by applause welcome the new members of God’s family. We give them a bible, and a card w/the ABC prayer explained and amplified.
I can’t claim that every person who responds is sincere. I can’t see hearts. But I can tell you that what I see is real, and it is powerful, and it just like the book of Acts. This is the power of God, and this is the power we should seek.
Praise God for 49 everlasting souls who stepped across the threshold of faith last weekend. Thank God for Jesus, who keeps on saving. And a huge thank you to the massive team of people who works so hard to make this happen.