DALLAS — Pastor Greg Laurie shared his powerful Gospel message on God's grace and salvation through Jesus Christ with an overflow crowd of 19,000 at Dallas' American Airlines Center and Victory Park Sunday for his first Harvest America in the Lone Star State. Along with the overcapacity crowd, a total of 3,900 host venues throughout the country (1,200 of them churches), watched the livestream event.
Laurie, the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside and Harvest Orange County in Irvine, California, revealed that while it might surprise some people, he believes all paths lead to God, whether one is agnostic, atheist, Christian, Jewish or Muslim. But he emphasized that while everyone will meet God, only those who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will enter heaven.
"I believe all roads lead to God. I don't care if you're a believer, agnostic or an atheist. I believe whatever road you're on, you will get to God one day and you will stand before God one day. All roads lead to God. But only one road leads to heaven, and that's the road through Jesus Christ," Laurie asserted.
"Your soul lives on in the afterlife. Everyone is going to die. You decide what you will do with this life, and you decide where you will spend the afterlife. I hate to break it to you," he said, "but there are only two choices: heaven or hell."
With the Scripture John 14:6 displayed at the front of the stage in the arena: "Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," Laurie explained, "Heaven is not the default destination for everyone, but for Christians, the forgiven people."
"The hope of heaven — that's for believers only, those who follow Christ," he asserted, adding that everyone who accepts Jesus Christ into their heart as their Lord and Savior and acknowledges their belief in Him before others will receive the gift of eternal life.
"Jesus said: 'If you acknowledge me before people, I will acknowledge you before my father and the angels in heaven.'"
He continued: "It doesn't matter what sin you've committed, or what you've done. You want to get to heaven? Get on the narrow path that leads to life. … Only God can change a life; only God can forgive sins. But only you can open your heart; only you can believe. ... Repent, turn from your sin, and receive Christ into your life."
Believers in Jesus Christ, he added, have these assurances: heaven is a real place; if you're a Christian, you're going to heaven; everyone will have a new body in heaven; people will be reunited with their loved ones; and Christ is coming back again.
Laurie also emphasized that, "Jesus said you have to be born again," and cautioned, "it's possible to be in the church and not have a personal relationship with Jesus."
Speaking about the second coming of Jesus Christ, Laurie emphasized that with daily reports of terrorist activities and fatal diseases such as Ebola, everything is "happing in real time before our very eyes."
"We're living in the last days. Jesus said, 'I will come and receive you into myself,'" Laurie added, noting that it's OK to be a skeptic. Being a skeptic, he said, could be one's first step to becoming a believer.
"When Christ came into my life (at age 17), it turned a skeptic into a believer," said Laurie, who spoke about his journey to Christ after having witnessed the redemption of his friends who had become Christians.
In his Gospel message, Laurie also shared his family's greatest heartache, when in 2008 his eldest son, Christopher, 33, died in car accident. Expressing how he felt his struggle wasn't just getting through the day or the week, but getting through the next 15 minutes, he said, if words could kill, he would've died on the spot after learning about his son's tragic death.
Laurie said he asked God for His love, support and guidance, and told those gathered for Harvest America: "God came through for me, He will come through for you."
Music performances at Harvest America in Dallas included for King and Country, Phil Wickham and Mercy Me.
Laurie is expected to return to Texas in 2015 where Harvest America will be held at Globe Life Park, better known as Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Those who want to learn more about Harvest American or to make a monetary donation to support Harvest America can do so at HarvestAmerica.com.