The day began with rain, yet we continued to pray and believe for God’s favor. About an hour before we were scheduled to begin, the clouds parted, and the sun shone through. It was a beautiful beginning to what would become one of our greatest nights under the Tent.
The first two nights had been amazing, but we knew God had something more for Bakersfield. What we discovered tonight is that we were fighting a spiritual war and the victory we had obtained on those first two nights produced great rewards on this, the third night of the crusade.
After a wonderful time of worship, Mario began by asking if the people believed there is a hell, and that there will be a day when every lost soul will stand before God. He then told the true story of Bishop James Pike of Grace Cathedral, an atheist who led his church while he was an atheist.
Bishop Pike was invited one day to speak to a group of pastors. These pastors were upset about him being there. Bishop Pike said, “Many of you are angry with me because I tell you there is no hell. But you are hypocrites, because if you believed there was a hell, everything you do in church would be totally different.” He told them, “I’m not the only one who doesn’t believe in hell. If you believed in it, you would be preaching with great urgency and clarity—to keep the people from going there.”
This is why Mario, during his over 50 years of ministry, has never apologized for preaching the truth of the Gospel of Christ.
Mario then began talking about the thief who hung on the cross beside Christ. He shared how it had been weighing on his heart all afternoon while he was alone with God. And God revealed the curse that is holding people: the bad experiences they’ve had in church. The wounds that have been inflicted on those who have grown up inside the church.
The thief on the cross saw a disfigured Gospel. And in a way, most American’s have been given a disfigured Gospel. The slick late-night preacher gives you the keys to hell, not heaven. He doesn’t preach a Gospel that puts you under conviction, that doesn’t tell you what Jesus did for you when He suffered crucifixion on your behalf.
There are Christians who are not serving God today because of what they saw in church. Instead of seeing a Gospel that consisted of love and truth, they saw denominational disputes, and doctrinal fights. And it is time to stand up and tell them they have heard a disfigured Gospel.
The thief didn’t see the works that Jesus had done. Neither did he hear the words spoken by the Son of God. He had heard about Jesus but had never heard Him. He had heard what Jesus had done, but he had never seen Him.
Mary saw a resurrected Christ, but the thief only saw a wounded and broken Man. The thief only saw what the religious leaders of their time had done to Him. They thought they were protecting their Temple and their people, but they didn’t realize they were destroying the only Being Who could save them and set their people free.
They were so busy looking for a messiah who fit their vision that they totally missed the Messiah Who fit God’s vision. And in so doing, they beat and disfigured the One Who came to make them whole.
Luke 23:39, “Then one of the two criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’”
Mario then added that there are two groups representing the ‘thieves’ who are in the Tent tonight. Both have gone to church; both have been hurt. Some are genuine victims of religion; others are using their bad experiences in church as an excuse to live their own way. Two thieves: one blasphemes and the other is honest.
Luke 23:40, “But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?'”
When the thief looked at Jesus hanging on the cross, it would have had no effect if he had only seen the tortured body—the disfigured Gospel. But then he looked into the eyes of Jesus.
Mario unashamedly said, ‘You are putting people into hell when you preach a disfigured Gospel. The real Church of Jesus is a Church of love. The real Church of Jesus is not in it for the money, and cares about souls being saved.’
He then quoted something Woodrow Wilson said:
“The proof that the Gospel is divine, is the preaching it has survived”
The true Gospel is so strong, so powerful, that even when the thief was himself undergoing torture and on the brink of death, when he looked on another Man who was likewise mistreated, when he looked into the eyes of Jesus, it broke through all that, and reached his heart. His response was, “You are the Son of God. Remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.”
Christ does not want to give you a list of hollow rules to live by. He wants to give you NEW LIFE!
The one thief said, “If that stuff was real, you wouldn’t act that way.” The other said, “I know what religion is like, but I know there is a real Jesus with real love for me, Who wants to get me over my hurts and my past and all my pain.”
What he heard Jesus say echoes in eternity, “This day you will be WITH Me in Paradise!”
Mario said a reporter had once asked him the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian. The answer is simple, he told him: ‘When you are not a Christian, Satan has a right to every part of you. And he gives you hell to go to hell on. Jesus gives the Christian heaven to go to heaven on.’
Then, as he does each night, Mario invited those who wanted to be set free and receive this gift of true Salvation, to raise their hands. Then he asked them to stand and then come forward.
And he was soon surrounded by a crowd of hundreds of precious souls receiving forgiveness for their sins and eternal life. They came to be redeemed by their Savior, and to look beyond the disfigurement of religion, into the eyes of Love.
The crowd filled the entire area in the front of the Tent. It is such an amazing sight, and it fills my heart with joy every time I see it: seeing my brothers and sisters come home to their heavenly Father. As these wonderful new saints made their way out to be ministered to, the worship team sang the song, “A New Name Written Down in Glory.”
What happened next was truly miraculous. As God’s power for healing began to flow through Mario and as His fire began to burn throughout the Tent, there was a rapid succession of healings taking place. Mario would point to one section and call out 20 or 30 different people and their needs. He then had them all stand up, and then had those around them pray for them. Then Mario moved to the next section and did the same thing.
In the first section there were three people with heart disease; four with diabetes; four with neuropathy in the feet; two with migraines; three with lung disease and COPD; one with glaucoma; one with a bad skin rash. Two who had been in car accidents; one who had damage to their jaw, neck and leg. Another who had damage to their lower spine that was causing excruciating pain.
All of them stood up and everyone around them laid hands on them and prayed for them.
In the next section there was healing for: arthritis of the hands; five with heart disease; eight with respiratory illnesses; three who had asthma; a young boy with asthma and hyperactivity who will no longer need medication to control his behavior; five who had migraines; some with diabetes; two with a lower spinal disc that often goes out; and one with sciatica.
Again, Mario had them all stand up so everyone around them could lay hands on them and pray for them.
Three people with cancer were called out. Lung cancer, throat cancer, and stomach cancer.
Mario then reminded the people that this was all the work of Christ. It was His doing and not of any man.
Someone with an unidentified stomach issue was called out. It was an allergic reaction affecting digestion that could prove fatal, but they were healed.
If you couldn’t be there last night, you still have one more chance. Wednesday night, March 15th, will be the final night of the Bakersfield event.
If you live too far away to make it, you can watch it on the livestream, but if there is any way you can make it, I will strongly urge you to do so. There is nothing like being in the midst of God’s people and experiencing the power of God first-hand!