Can You Truly Count How Many Got Saved?

I’ve never matched Peter’s success at Pentecost,
but I did save the same kid at youth group 3,000 times.



Pentecost was by far the most productive evangelistic meeting in the Bible, outside of Jonah in Nineveh. It is certainly the largest revival in the New Testament.

Pentecost is often held up as a model, a comparison to make you feel pathetic about your terrible ministry.

There are reports from time to time about massive evangelistic revivals and thousands coming to the Lord. I am skeptical. I just am. I can’t help it. I wish I could believe that your thousands of people who got saved at your revival truly got saved, but I’ve been around awhile now and I’m skeptical.

I know 3,000 got saved when Peter preached because God said so in the Bible. God did not make any pronouncements about how many got saved at your revival. The test of time makes those numbers look ridiculous. Does Christlikeness show up in those lives? Usually it doesn’t.

People are fixated on numbers. I think we love hearing about Peter’s great success at Pentecost because it feeds our numbers obsession. We think the effectiveness of a revival or an evangelistic opportunity is proven by how many got saved.

If no one got saved then “the Spirit did not move.” If many people got saved then you know “the Spirit was moving.”

I disagree. The Spirit moves all the time. Even “failed” evangelism, by which I mean no one got saved, is still better than no evangelism, and quite frankly, still might work for a more non-obvious reason.

Bottom line is this: the guy I lead to the Lord 3,000 times is just as important as the 3,000 individuals Peter saved on Pentecost. The Spirit may be moving in both cases.

Most ministers will skip the opportunity to talk with the guy who has been saved 3,000 times for the brighter lights of revival crowds. We base the expenditure of our time and energy on what the payoff is. It’s like the priest of Micah’s who took off when the tribe of Dan came calling. Why serve in a guy’s house when you can serve a whole tribe? (That’s in Judges 17-18 by the way.)

I think we hold up Peter’s response on Pentecost as our goal, anything short of that is a failure. Here’s the thing: Peter never duplicated that event. In fact, none of the apostles did. Pentecost was a special event; it was the coming of the Spirit with power. It created a big response.

The bottom line is that I don’t know who is saved. If you claim to have saved 3,000 souls, I don’t know. How do I know that? If I claim to have finally saved the guy after the 3,000th time telling him the Gospel, I still don’t know.

God is the judge. Don’t compare your supposed results to other’s results. Don’t fixate on numbers. Preach the Gospel. Love people. Pray. Let God do the judging. He’ll do His job; we should do ours.



And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel?
–Judges 18:19

2 thoughts on “Can You Truly Count How Many Got Saved?

  1. “Coincidentally,” the prayer of the day in the other book I read in the morning (Wisdom from the Margins, compiled by William G. Britton, which btw I commend to you) was this:

    “Abba, as much as I hate to admit it, I like the sound of applause. Help me, whether I choose obscurity or have it thrust upon me, to submit myself to its good work in my life.”

    Have a beautiful, even if obscure, day.


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