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by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, August 18, 2019

“And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased” (John 6:2; p. 1122 Scofield).

Multitudes – great crowds – followed Jesus for a while during His earthly ministry. “A great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles” (John 6:2). This happened many other times. But none of them were there when Christ was crucified. None of them had trusted Him.

That crowd came when they saw the healings. A little later, another crowd came to Jesus. This group was actually processed by the church. Jesus saw “a great company come unto him” (John 6:5). Then they sat down with Jesus and were ministered to! Jesus fed the five thousand men by a miracle (John 6:10). Those men called Jesus a prophet (John 6:14). They wanted to make him king (John 6:15), showing they believed Jesus was the Messiah. Today the new-evangelicals would say they were great prospects, probably already saved! But almost none of them stood with Jesus when He was arrested. They had gone away long ago.

Many evangelistic meetings “process the multitude.” The evangelist preaches his sermon. Hundreds, even thousands of people come forward. They pray a sinner’s prayer. They are counted as saved! But a month later, the churches have not grown, and they may even be smaller!

Over fifty years ago a great crusade was preached in San Francisco. It went on for six weeks. More than 26,000 people came forward and made “decisions for Christ.” But the Oakland Tribune reported that one year later, only 13 of them had been added to any church! (see R. T. Ketcham in “23 Years of Change” by D. A. Waite (Collingswood, NJ: Bible For Today, 1971, appendix III, p. 3); and Bill Rose, Oakland Tribune, Wednesday, December 17, 1958, p. 6-S; see also “Preaching to a Dying Nation” by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr. and Christopher Cagan, 1999, pp. 64-66).

That “multitude ministry” went on for six weeks. Hundreds of people put in tens of thousands of hours of work to make it happen. Twenty-six thousand people came forward. They prayed a prayer. But they weren’t discipled. They never encountered Christ. The process didn’t touch them. Multitude ministry doesn’t produce disciples.

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That kind of ministry doesn’t happen only in an evangelistic crusade. It can happen in the work of a local church. We have tried “processing the multitude.” We went to the schools and the malls and the streets. We brought back thousands of names. We telephoned them, and hundreds of them visited the church. But only a few of them stayed and trusted Jesus. Multitude ministry does not work. There is no substitute for personal involvement – a personal encounter with Christ and discipling them one by one in a local church!

It is much better to bring one person. Bring one person to church yourself. It is better to spend time with that one person, pray for Him, sit with him in church, be nice to him, and stay with him until he trusts Jesus! Running through a process is easier for you. It may make you feel good about yourself. But it doesn’t win anybody. It is better to win one person than to get many names but not win anybody. Tonight I want to show you why “multitude ministry” is wrong, and how we can do better.

I. First, processing the multitude is Biblically wrong.

That’s not how people got converted in the Bible. People trusted Jesus one at a time. That’s the only way anyone can trust Jesus. Let me give you some examples.

A man was “blind from his birth” (John 9:1; p. 1127). Jesus healed him (vv. 6, 7). Now he could see! A lot of people knew this man. Many people saw him healed by Christ, or found out about it quickly. Jesus’ Disciples were there (v. 2). The man’s neighbors knew about the healing and asked about him (v. 8). They brought him to the Pharisees (v. 13). They called the man’s parents (v. 18). Only one man was healed, but a lot of people knew about it.

The man didn’t just get healed. He said to Christ, “Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him” (John 9:38; p. 1129). He didn’t just thank Jesus, he worshipped him. He trusted Jesus and was saved.

Many people knew he was healed. Many people knew he trusted Jesus. But only that one man was saved. His parents didn’t trust Jesus, for they were afraid they would be “put out of the synagogue” (John 9:22; p. 1128). There is no record that the neighbors trusted Jesus. The Pharisees didn’t trust Jesus. Even the Disciples remained lost. None of them were converted until after Christ rose from the dead. Only the blind man got anything from Christ. Salvation came to one person that day, and only one.

Two thieves were crucified on either side of Christ. One of them trusted Him. Jesus told that man, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43; p. 1111). There were other people nearby. But they weren’t saved at that time. Most of them were never saved. The other thief never trusted Jesus. The Roman guards weren’t saved then. Nobody else watching was saved then. Only that one man who trusted Jesus was saved.

Paul and Silas were in jail in Philippi. A jailor was watching them. There came a great earthquake. The prison doors were opened. The prisoners’ bands were loosed. The jailor wanted to kill himself. But Paul and Silas told him the prisoners were still there. The jailor came trembling and asked them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30; p. 1172). They told him, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). Then “they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house” (Acts 16:32). Later he “rejoiced, believing in God with all his house” (Acts 16:34).

Some new-evangelicals think the jailor’s family was guaranteed to be saved. But Paul and Silas spoke the word of the Lord not only to him, but to everyone in his house. The jailor believed – and so did all the rest, “all his house.” Each person trusted Christ on his own. If someone in that family had not trusted Jesus, that person wouldn’t have been saved, any more than the blind man’s parents were saved. Each person must be saved for himself, and discipled for himself.

There has been great harm done by guiding groups of people into a “decision,” whether it be a family, a village, or a large crowd. Most of them don’t understand the Gospel, aren’t convicted of their sin, don’t trust Jesus, and only go along with the others. Paul didn’t do that. He spoke to everyone in the house and made sure they each believed. Yes, more than one person was saved. But each one was individually saved just like the blind man in John chapter nine!

Someone may say, “What about the day of Pentecost?” Yes, Peter preached and three thousand men were saved. But that was a time of tremendous revival when God was moving in a powerful way. God brought three thousand men to Jesus – and every one of them trusted Christ just like the blind man in John 9. Each of them trusted Jesus for himself just as if he had been the only one there. Other people in Jerusalem who did not trust Jesus – even if they heard Peter’s sermon – and certainly they all knew about it – were not saved. Each person must trust Jesus for himself and become a disciple for himself.

II. Second, processing the multitude is doctrinally wrong.

The Bible says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him” (Genesis 1:27; p. 5). Again, the Bible says, “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7; p. 7).

God is a person, not a machine. Some Pentecostals think that God is a force. If they pray in the right way, they can make God do something. But God is a Person. Prayer is asking God to do something, not saying magic words. God is a person. He will decide how to answer.

Adam was made in the image of God. Adam was a living soul. Just as God is a person, not a machine, so Adam was a person, not a machine. Adam had a spirit, a soul, and a body. Adam could think. He could feel. He could decide. He had the capacity to know God.

And so we, Adam’s descendants, are people, not machines. Although our spirit, soul and body are cursed by sin, still we in some way can think, feel, and decide, and with God’s grace we can know Him.

Yes, we have names. But we are more than our names. We have numbers given to us, like Social Security numbers. But we are more than those numbers. We have addresses. But we are more than those addresses. To list a set of names and numbers would not capture our personalities and our souls! So how can we capture souls for Christ by moving around names and numbers, working with papers, and processing people like they weren’t people? We can’t.

That goes against what God is – a person. It goes against what man is – a person. To process people only in terms of names and words is like trying to push God through a series of magic prayers and “faith tricks.” It isn’t true.

III. Third, processing the multitude does not work.

Processing the multitude does not work. We tried it for more than forty years. We went out and got the names and phone numbers of people. Other people telephoned them and some of them came to church. But only a few stayed and trusted Jesus. And those few who did get saved had real conversions, not processes. Those who did trust Jesus went through personal struggles about coming into the church, facing their sin, and trusting Jesus. It was the personal encounter that won them, not a process.

Why did we process the multitude? Why do so many churches do that? It gives the illusion that souls are being won, without actually having to win any of them. In some Decisionist churches they proclaim a person as “saved” if he prays a prayer at his door, but never comes to church! We didn’t do that. But we did take refuge in processing to hide from the work of actually winning souls.

We felt good about getting names. We handed in the names. Then it wasn’t our problem. It wasn’t our responsibility. The names had gone out of our hands. Someone else would take care of that. The names were fed into the machinery of the church. It was satisfying. It soothed the conscience. Now the job belonged to someone else. We were off the hook. We didn’t have to face the people. We didn’t have to cry over them in prayer. We didn’t have to spend much time with them if they did come to visit. We didn’t have to get involved with them.

That way is easy. You have to do the work of getting names. But you don’t have to do the real work of getting one person! You can pretend you’re winning souls without actually winning even one person! It feels good, but produces nothing.

Processing doesn’t win souls. The souls of the people weren’t dealt with. Their souls didn’t meet our souls. They heard sermons, but they didn’t encounter Christ. It was all a pushing of papers, a work of names and numbers. And it didn’t bring one person in. Let’s stop doing evangelism that way. Go back and do it the Bible way. Bring one person at a time into church like Andrew did:

“Andrew, Simon Peter's brother...findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus” (John 1:40-42; p.1116).

Bring one person in like Philip did:

“Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see” (John 1:45, 46; p. 1116).

Do it the Bible way! Go out and meet one person. Make sure he is an Oriental – Chinese, Japanese or Korean – someone who can help us build our Asian church in the San Gabriel Valley. Talk with him. Tell him about Jesus. Spend time with him. Don’t just hand in the name and forget about him. Bring him to church yourself. Sit with him in church. Make sure people talk to him. Make sure he has a good time. Then bring him back! Visit him at his home. This takes more work than just getting a name. You have to get involved with the person yourself. That’s more than getting a name and walking away. But you can bring one person in!

Don’t go out and get names – not even ten or a hundred names! Go out and talk with one Oriental. One is fine! If you can bring one Oriental person into the church, that’s more than you’re doing now. Don’t hand him over to someone else. Bring him to church yourself. And be his friend! Be interested in him. Learn about him. Care about him. He’s a person, not just a name or a number. Treat him like a person. You won’t have a hundred names to turn in – but one person is more important than pages of names. Bring one Oriental person and bring him into the church!

The apostate Chan never brought one disciple in. He and his people bring in names, but not disciples! Not one! They never made even one disciple! The ones they have are not disciples. That’s why they have to “steal” people from other churches. They say we are too strict. So their appeal is to make it easy. They are decisionist antinomians. They appeal to the flesh, not to Christian discipleship! May this church love people enough to care for them one by one!

Some of you have not trusted Jesus. For you, salvation is just a process. You learn some words and you say a few things. But that’s not Bible conversion. True salvation is when you, a person, have a trust encounter with Jesus Christ, who is a Person. Jesus died on the Cross to pay for your sin. He shed His Blood to wash your sin away. If you trust Christ, He will save you forever. If you would like to speak with us about trusting Jesus, please come and stand at the front of the room now. Amen.



by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

“And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased” (John 6:2; p. 1122 Scofield).

(John 6:5, 10, 14, 15)

I.    First, processing the multitude is Biblically wrong, John 9:1, 6, 7, 2;
John 9:8, 13, 18, 38, 22; Luke 23:43; Acts 16:30, 31, 32, 34.

II.   Second, processing the multitude is doctrinally wrong,
Genesis 1:27; 2:7.

III.  Third, processing the multitude does not work, John 1:40-42;
John 1:45, 46.