Did 800 People get saved at NewSpring?

There has been a stir in our community and in the minds of many others as a result of NewSpring saying that 800 people received Christ at our church in the month of August. Did God save that many people? Yes He did! And this is only the start of how we are seeing God move in our church. August has been one of the most amazing months of ministry I have ever witnessed or been a part of. But I have to admit that I was brokenhearted to see all of the second guessing, and criticism that a small percentage of people expressed about what God is doing at our church.

We are no stranger to criticism at NewSpring, and have learned through the years that if people criticized Jesus, then they will also criticize a church that is following after Him. Tony wrote a great post about this subject last week.

 

 

So why am I writing this post? I am not writing this as a defense of our ministry. I have no desire or need to defend this church. God will defend what He chooses to defend, that is not my job, it is His. It is evident that God is moving here. We preach the gospel at our church and teach the whole of scripture more than any other church I have ever been a part of. I am not writing this to attack any other church or person. People are entitled to their opinions, even when they are wrong. If you have attacked our Church, I want to tell you one thing…we love you. If you belong to Jesus and teach that Jesus Christ alone is the only way to salvation, then we believe we are on the same team. Here is why I am writing this…

1 Peter 3:15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

There have been questions raised about what our church believes and what we are teaching about salvation. I am glad to give a response to that, and to answer a few other thoughts that have been brought up on this subject. We will always give the reason for the hope that we have in Jesus.

Here are some of the questions and concerns that have been brought up:

 

1) What are the steps of Salvation? How does someone become saved?

I start with this, because until we get this down, everything else is irrelevant..

Here is the answer…There is just one step, Jesus has to save them! That’s it. There is no formula or process that someone has to go through. It’s just Jesus. That’s the answer. Anyone that teaches that there is more to it than that is adding to scripture. God draws people to himself. Jesus saves them. People believe and respond to the gift that God gives them.

Salvation – Salvation is a gift from God to man. Man can never make up for his sin by self-improvement or good works. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can man be saved from sin’s penalty. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his life by faith.

This is best seen in this passage:

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

To understand this verse a little more, let’s break down what the definitions of some of the key words mean.

Grace = unmerited favor, an undeserved gift

Saved = rescued, spared from disaster

Faith = belief, trust, commitment of mind, attitude, and action

Ephesians 2:8-9 Paraphrased: For it is by an undeserved gift you have been spared from disaster through belief and trust in Christ aone – and this belief and trust is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by your works so you cannot boast!
God draws us to himself, gives us the faith to believe, and we respond to His free gift and believe in Jesus as being our only way to be saved because of what He did for us on the cross.

Man often tries to make salvation way more complicated than God does. Salvation is a free gift that God offers. All we do is receive that free gift. We don’t earn it, and we don’t have to clean up or go through several steps before we are good enough for it.

Here are a few more verses that talk about this awesome gift God has offered us and how we receive it:

Romans 10:9 – That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Ephesians 1:7 – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…

John 1:12 – Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

Revelation 3:20 – Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

www.carm.org has a great article about this subject here.

 

2) You should not declare that someone received salvation, until after you give enough time to make sure that there is life change.

This is a mode of thinking I have seen several times over the last month that is not entirely biblical. We preached the gospel in our services, people heard the gospel, felt God drawing them and responded and received Christ. Why would we not celebrate and glorify God for what He has done. God saved 800 people in the month of August and you better believe we are going to talk about that!

If you have to wait a certain amount of time to see life change, how long do you have to wait? 1 hour, 1 month, 1 year, 10 years? Who gets to decide how long the specified period is. That concept is not biblical.

In Acts 2 did the disciples tell everyone to wait? No, After Peter presented the gospel, they had 3,000 people respond to the gospel and get baptized. What did Philip do with the Ethiopian Eunich in Acts 8? Philip didn’t say…”yes there is some water, but I’m not going to baptize you until I determine you have life change for 8.2 days first and prove to me that God saved you.” Philip saw the guy respond to the gospel and baptized him! What about Peter in Acts 10. Cornelius’ whole household responded to the gospel. Peter counted them as believers, he didn’t say “I’ll come back next year and see if this message has stuck with you.”

Jesus saves, people respond, God is glorified and his kingdom is advanced. That is what has been happening at NewSpring.

It is ungodly to have the attitude that you are going to consider that the salvations were not genuine until the people prove it. If that is your attitude, you need to understand that it is not your call. You do not get to decide whether or not people are saved. Jesus saves people, and when they respond to the Gospel and believe that Jesus paid for their sin on the cross, and confess that Jesus is God and the only way to heaven, scripture says they are saved.

These 800 people did not earn their salvation and they don’t have to do a legalistic dance or performance for anyone else to prove that what happened is genuine. Jesus radically changed them, and the same God that drew them to Himself and will continue to draw these people to Himself give them a desire to grow spiritually and change the things inside of them. He will do it the way He wants and in His time! God is either sovereign or He is not.

If you don’t believe that God saved them, I would love for you to talk to those people and tell them that their salvation is not genuine. I have talked with many of those people over the last 4 weeks and was able to baptize several of them and hear their testimonies on Sunday of how Jesus changed them. Here are a handful of stories we heard…

We talked to the Married couple in their 60’s that have been in church all of their lives and saw what religion had to offer. They came to church and heard the gospel for the first time and Jesus has completely changed them. They are getting baptized this Saturday.

We received an email from a lady this week who had been inviting her family members to church for years. Her family members have been getting saved one after another over the last several months. One of them has been dying of bone cancer, and was unable to come to church. She went and presented the gospel to him and he accepted Jesus and knows he is going to heaven now.

I talked with a Married guy in his late 20’s who always thought he was saved because he went to church. Jesus messed him up during Perry’s second message in the Illuminate series and Jesus has provided what he was missing in his life.

We talked with a college student who had been praying for her dad to receive Christ for years. Her dad accepted Christ at NewSpring, and a few days later he passed away. She is so thankful that her dad came to church and heard the gospel and responded to it before he stepped into eternity.

I got an email from Claudia, the girl I baptized Sunday after church. She said, “Jesus came into my life on the 25th of August and I HAD to go public yesterday!” Jesus changed her life and no one can say otherwise.

There is one common denominator in all these stories…and that is Jesus. Jesus changed their lives. We don’t have to wait to see life change…we are already seeing it!

3) Is repentance necessary for someone to become saved.

I have heard several sources say that people can’t get saved at chruches like NewSpring, because we don’t challenge peple to repent.  Is repentance necessary?  Yes it is!  We teach and believe this, but we teach biblical repentance at NewSpring (I will explain what true repentance really is and how it relates to salvation in just a second). I have seen many comments recently about how people can’t get saved in churches like ours because we don’t tell people to repent before they receive Christ. The problem with many of the people that are teaching this is that they don’t have a biblical definition of repentance. They are teaching a repentance that is different from what is in scripture and are adding steps to salvation. Based on their definition, you have to get cleaned up and then when you change everything you are doing that is wrong, you are able to come to Christ. That is very interesting because from what scripture clearly teaches, you can do nothing to earn your salvation. Why do some people teach that you have to be clean enough before they can come to Jesus and be set free? Jesus does not want you to try to clean yourself up. He wants you to completely surrender to Him and let Him change your life and draw the things out of your life that are not pleasing to Him

So what is biblical repentance?

 

www.gotquestions.org has a great article on this subject. Here it is.

Question: “What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?”

Answer: Many understand the term “repentance” to mean “turning from sin.” This is not the Biblical definition of repentance. In the Bible, the word “repent” means to “change your mind.” The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19). Acts 26:20 declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” The full Biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.

What, then, is the connection between repentance and salvation? The Book of Acts seems to especially focus on repentance in regards to salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). To repent, in relation to salvation, is to change your mind in regards to Jesus Christ. In Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38). Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus (Acts 2:36) to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah, to faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior.

Repentance and faith can be understood as “two sides of the same coin.” It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection, or repentance from ignorance or disinterest – it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ, to faith in Christ.

It is crucially important that we understand repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God pulls that person to Him (John 6:44). Acts 5:31 and 11:18 indicate that repentance is something God gives – it is only possible because of His grace. No one can repent unless God grants repentance. All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a result of God’s drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. God’s longsuffering leads us to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), as does His kindness (Romans 2:4).

While repentance is not a work that earns salvation, repentance unto salvation does result in works. It is impossible to truly and fully change your mind without that causing a change in action. In the Bible, repentance results in a change in behavior. That is why John the Baptist called people to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). A person who has truly repented from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ will give evidence of a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:19-23; James 2:14-26). Repentance, properly defined, is necessary for salvation. Biblical repentance is changing your mind about Jesus Christ and turning to God in faith for salvation (Acts 3:19). Turning from sin is not the definition of repentance, but it is one of the results of genuine, faith-based repentance towards the Lord Jesus Christ.

God thank you for what we have seen you do and for what you are going to continue doing at our chruch.  Thank you for drawing and forever changing 800 lives during the month of August.  You are an awesome God and you alone are mighty to save! 

 

 

 

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