The Harvest 2016 crusade in Georgia began with Pastor Greg Laurie telling 4,000 people that Jesus' assurance, "Don't let your hearts to be troubled," as found in the Gospel of John, is still relevant to them. At the end of the message, the megachurch pastor led 363 people in prayer to invite Christ into their lives.
Speaking at Infinite Energy Arena in Duluth, Georgia, on Friday, Pastor Laurie cited several reasons why many Americans could be troubled today, including due to the threat of violence by the Islamic State terror group and aggression from Russia apart from many personal anxieties they have.
"There's a God in heaven who loves you," the pastor of California's Harvest Christian Fellowship assured the audience on the first day of the free, three-night event, held for the first time ever in Georgia. "No matter how many sins you've committed, He will forgive you, and you can change your eternal address tonight, if you put your faith in Jesus Christ."
Laurie, who has authored over 70 books, then read from John 14:1-6, "'Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.' Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?' Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"
Jesus said this to His disciples after telling them that He was going to be betrayed by one of them, Laurie said, explaining that the passage speaks to stressed-out people in three ways even today.
One, believe in what God says in His word, the pastor said.
Most Americans believe in God, and atheists are a vocal but tiny minority, he said, and asked "but do you believe in Him in a personal way?"
There are times when we have reasons to worry, just as the disciples had after Jesus died on the cross, the pastor pointed out. But "Jesus took the worst tragedy and turned it into the greatest victory," he added, referring to Jesus' Resurrection.
God can do the same for us today – turn our tragedies into victories, Laurie said.
Two, if you're a believer, you'll go to heaven.
Heaven is not like "a long church service," the pastor said. "Heaven is a real place for real people to do real things. It will surpass your wildest dreams."
Everyone will die sooner or later, but those who believe in Jesus know with certainty that their last breath on earth will be the first in heaven, Laurie told a cheering crowd.
Three, Jesus is coming back again to the earth.
Those who are following Jesus would be happy to know that He is coming again, but others would hope that He doesn't come anytime soon, the pastor explained.
Laurie said all roads lead to God, as one day everyone will stand before God Almighty giving account for their lives. "But there is only one road that leads to heaven and that's Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again from the dead."
We will never be good enough to deserve heaven; even one sin is enough to keep us from heaven, Laurie underlined.
Jesus died for the whole world, but "He died for you," he told the crowd.
We need to repent; we have been walking away from God, and now we need to walk towards God, Laurie said. We also need to invite Jesus into our lives, and do that right now, he added.
In addition to the 4,000 people who attended Harvest Georgia in the stadium, an additional 4,000 people watched the event online.
Harvest Georgia includes music from Chris Tomlin, Lecrae, THIRD DAY and Phil Wickham.
More than 5.6 million people have attended Harvest events since 1990, with over 476,000 of them making professions of faith.