(Photo: Harvest Ministries)
As many as 34,000 people heard Pastor Greg Laurie's message on how to start all over again on the second night of the Harvest event at Southern California's Angel Stadium Saturday. More than 3,000 people came forward to accept Jesus, who alone, as Laurie said, can change human beings.
"Tonight there were 34,000 people attending at the stadium and 3,059 made professions of faith in Jesus Christ!" the organizers tweeted late on Saturday, the second of the three nights of the evangelistic event in Anaheim.
"I have a question… do people change?" Laurie, pastor of Harvest Church in Riverside, Calif., asked the crowd as he began his message following gospel music by Flyleaf, Phil Wickham and for King & Country. "Is it impossible for you to change? …Do you need to change?"
You might think if you move to a different place, perhaps to Southern California, you would change and thus be happy, Laurie said. Or, you might think if you get married you'd be happy. Some might even think a change in their appearance would make them happier, he added.
These things don't change you on the inside, Laurie warned. "You can't change yourself any more than a drowning person can save themselves," he stated. "The Bible says the problem is within. The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart… The human heart is deceitful."
But there is good news. "God can change you; He can make you a different person on the inside," Laurie said. The Bible says if you are in Christ, you are a different kind of a person and everything becomes fresh in you, he explained. "That can happen to you tonight, just as it happened to 2,500 people last night."
Laurie told the story of the woman caught in adultery, as recorded in the Gospel of John 8:1-11, which is about a confrontation between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees over whether a woman, caught in an act of adultery, ought to be stoned to death. Jesus shames the crowd into dispersing and demonstrates God's mercy and grace. Jesus says whoever is without sin should throw the first stone, and thus averts the execution.
Laurie also shared about Jesus' conversation with a Samaritan woman at a well, as found in John 4:4–26. The woman from Samaria comes to the well, where Jesus is resting, to draw water. Jesus tells her, "Give Me a drink." The woman is surprised because Jews do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus begins talking about "living water," while telling her that He knows she has had many husbands and is living with a man outside of marriage. Jesus reveals Himself as the Messiah.
"Jesus is here to rescue you tonight from your sin, from your addiction, from your past; He'll do that for you," Laurie told the crowd. If you are wondering if Jesus is true or not, "He will prove it to you, I guarantee that."
"How long does it take to become a believer?" Laurie asked. "How long does it take for you to snap your fingers? ...That's how long it takes to believe… in a flash, in a moment, in an instant."
Jesus promised four things to the woman caught in adultery, Laurie said. "And He makes the same four promises to you."
Jesus promised that her sins had been forgiven, he said. If you confess your sin – agree with God that your sin is sin, He will forgive you, he explained. Her sins were also forgotten by God, he added. Besides, Jesus promised she didn't have to fear the Judgment Day. God will not condemn you; Jesus paid the price for your sins, Laurie said. And she had also been given a new power to face her problems.
God can change you tonight, Laurie stated. Admit you're a sinner, believe Jesus died for you, repent or turn away from your sin, and receive Jesus Christ in your life, Laurie said, explaining how one becomes a Christian. "Being a Christian is not knowing about God, but knowing God."
Laurie's Harvest events are in their 24th year in Southern Calif., and have drawn over 4.7 million people.
On the first night of the Harvest event on Friday, there were more than 28,000 people.
Phil Robertson, the Duck Commander patriarch of A&E's popular show Duck Dynasty, is scheduled to be interviewed by Laurie at the event on Sunday night.
The event is being broadcast live via the Internet at www.harvest.org. Video podcasts and blog accounts of each message are also being made available at http://blog.greglaurie.com/, as well as "behind the scenes" updates from Greg Laurie on Twitter at http://twitter.com/greglaurie and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/harvest.greglaurie.
Apart from the tens of thousands who are attending the event at the stadium, more than 23,000 watched the live webcast on the first night from around the country and beyond. "If I can watch the Harvest Crusade 2013 from Cambodia, why aren't you watching? #socalharvest," reads a tweet by one Kim Lewis.