Nicolás is one of the two founding pastors of Iglesia Familia de la Gracia (Family of Grace Church) in Rosario, Argentina. The church was planted in 2010, and Nicolás spent the better part of 2011 studying at the Ministerial Academy in Lima, Peru. Here he shares the stories of three young people whom the Lord recently saved.
Florencia is a young woman, the wife of one of the members of our church and mother to a young and charming little girl. We have known her for two years and have had many evangelistic conversations with her. In truth, I think we shared the gospel with her as extensively, clearly, and passionately as we could. But, nevertheless, despite our attempts to “force her to enter,” she did not manifest at any moment any evidence of spiritual understanding or sensitivity to the Word of God. She seemed, in a very strange and extreme way, kindly indifferent to even the most terrifying and shocking truths of the gospel.
But, after we had fired all of our bullets and had resigned and left behind any expectation of being able to see her embrace Christ, something sudden and marvelous happened. On a Sunday just like all the others, during a service when Florencia was present, the Lord manifested Himself to her in the preaching of the Scriptures in such a powerful way that she broke into weeping in the midst of the congregation and was unable to contain or bear the conviction of sin that she was experiencing. The sermon was on justification by faith from Philippians 3:9. Really, the sermon was less of an exhortation and more of a teaching lesson in which I determined to exposit with a lot of detail what it means that we are saved not merely by the death of Christ but also by His life.
It was then that the eyes of Florencia’s heart were opened; she was pierced by the sword of the Spirit. In an instant, all that she had heard about the gospel became more real than the floor on which she was standing! In the midst of her tears and conviction of sin, she left the room; when she finally returned and we spoke with her, she said to us, “How could I have been so blind? How did I not see it before? How is it that I could have heard so much about Christ without being affected? Not only did I not love Him—I hated Him! And yet, there He was, loving me. We are saved only by His righteousness. All of our good works are a filthy rag before His holiness. We don’t have anyone else to whom we can go; we don’t have any other Savior but Jesus Christ. I want to proclaim the gospel! I want everyone to know how marvelous He is and how it is that men and women can be justified by God Himself!”
It would be very difficult for me to forget her face full of tears of repentance, of emotion, of joy, and of new life. Since that joyful Sunday, it has been so evident that she “saw” Christ and that she “entered” the Kingdom of God! All of us have been impacted by her conversion, especially her husband, who had shared the gospel with her time and time again. What is impossible for men is possible for God. Glory be to His blessed name!
Jose and Laura
Jose and Laura are a young couple that came to our church not long ago. Neither of them is from Rosario, but they live here now because of their university studies. Their history with us is pretty short. Almost within a month of being with us, Jose began to express serious uneasiness about his salvation. In his own words, he told Pastor Ariel, “Christ is everything for you guys, but He is not everything for me.” But in a very similar way to Florencia, one great Sunday, something happened. Jose was impacted during the first part of our Sunday meeting, the time that we devote to prayer together for revival. Hearing the prayers of some of the brothers in the church that were hungry for more of Christ, he was profoundly convinced of his own misery and of his deserved condemnation—so much so that under great anguish he cried out to Christ to rescue him.
Later, during the preaching, the Lord came to him through the exposition of the Scriptures and opened his eyes in such a way that he could see his urgent and absolute dependence on Christ for his salvation. As he heard the preaching from Philippians 3:10 on our need to know the enlivening power of Christ’s resurrection, Jose surrendered himself completely to Christ, confessed his inability to save himself, and cried out to be raised from spiritual death. As the musicians led us in music after the sermon, as he told us later, Jose was able for the first time to truly praise the Lord with all of his being. Jose’s praise to God was the cry of one who had been reborn!
Days later, Laura had an experience of conversion. Together with Jose, she decided to listen to our radio program, in which my wife Andrea was sharing her testimony of how the Lord freed her from the deceit in which she found herself as a false convert and how He saved her with His strong hand. Laura identified herself with Andrea, and she realized that she was in same place Andrea was before her conversion. But she began to resist the conviction of sin and appealed to her supposed personal righteousness before God: “I am not that bad; I am not lost.”
But Jose, now that he viewed things with new eyes, began to explain the gospel to her and to plead with her to not be superficial and to not excuse herself, but instead to confess her need of a Savior. Finally, Laura surrendered. She recognized her lostness, and she was broken and humbled before God. She cried out to Him to be saved from condemnation and from the power of sin. Today, despite the fact that only a month ago Jose and Laura were slaves of sin, both are manifesting the desire to follow Jesus no matter the cost. They want to be members of the church; they want to know the Lord Jesus; they want to serve Him; they want to live in the fullness of the Spirit. Oh, how worthy it is to serve the Lord and to be a servant to men! It is worth it all if only to see one more sinner repent and be washed in the blood of Emmanuel!