Both Scripture and history provide us with stirring accounts of mass evangelism. Because we can only have total certainty about the genuine success of those mass evangelistic encounters that have been recorded in Scripture, we should give the most careful attention possible to the records of those encounters.
Many scriptural accounts record success in seeing a number of people truly saved (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7; 8:12; 10:44; 11:21; 13:43, 48; 16:15; 16:32-34; 17:4, 12; 18:8). Of these accounts, only Acts 2 and 10 provide us with sufficient information to know that there were many believers present to attest to the success of the mass evangelistic encounter that took place on those occasions.
At Pentecost, Peter and the eleven were present (2:14) when about three thousand people were saved (2:41). The account, however, does not clearly indicate to us that every lost person present was saved; in fact, it seems to indicate that was not the case by saying that “they that gladly received his word were baptized” (2:41), which implies that there were those present who did not receive his word.
At Gentecost, Peter and six other brethren were present (11:12) when he preached to Cornelius and “the many [“his kinsmen and near friends”; 10:24] that were come together” (10:27). While Peter was preaching his message, “the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” (10:44).
These statements thus make clear to us that Peter enjoyed 100% success in this mass evangelism encounter, and that there were seven witnesses to the genuineness of the salvation of every lost person who heard Peter’s message (10:45-48)! The importance of these witnesses being present on that occasion is underscored by Peter’s reference to them (11:12) in his subsequent defense of his evangelizing them (11:4-17).
What’s more, at the Jerusalem Council, when the truth of how Gentiles were to be saved was being intensely debated, Peter referred back to Gentecost when he declared, “God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (15:8-9). God thus was the eight and Premier Witness to the genuineness of their salvation!
Because the Gentecost accounts provide us with this glorious record of many witnesses, both human and divine, to one-hundred percent success in mass evangelism of Gentiles, we who evangelize Gentiles today should make sure that we give this marvelous evangelistic account its rightful place of preeminence in our evangelistic doctrine and practice.