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Is There A Need For An Invitation After The Sermon?

by Glyn Jones

I have been asked (much to my surprise) “why do you preach sermons at the worship of the church? Where does the Bible tell us to preach and teach God’s word?” Sometimes the simplest of things we often take for granted are questioned. (Acts 2:41-42) -“Then they that gladly received his word were baptised: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

(1 Tim. 4:6) - “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.”

(Titus 2:1) - “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:”

There can be no doubt that the preaching and teaching of the Bible to the church and the non-Christian is needed to build up the body of Christ and to proclaim the words that are able to save souls. (1 Cor 14:23-25; 2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 4:2; James 1:21).

I want you to understand that an Invitation is an act of asking or requesting those who have listened to the sermon (regardless of the subject just preached), who may not have become a Christian - those that have not come to the Lord in the way He has asked -to please do so. (I am assuming that there are those present that have not as yet committed to Christ.)

Now I don’t care what you call it, so long as you don’t belittle & are not demeaning as to how one becomes a Christian (becomes saved). The response to the invitation involves obeying some specific commands and if you’re going to be open and clear in your invitation, you must speak up and say what they are. After all, we are to be giving the Lord’s invitation, not asking folks to join some interdenominational family.

Rom. 10:8 -11 - “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Those that are listening to the words about Jesus must believe (Heb 11:6) and they must be willing to confess that faith - (Acts 8:36; 1 Jn 4:15).

Acts 2:37-38 “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, “Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Sinners (even those believing in who Jesus is) need God’s grace and to have God’s saving grace, they must do what Peter tells them to do - they must repent (2 Pet 3:9; Acts 11:18) and must be Baptised (Gal 3:26-27 and Acts 22:16).

There may be need for further teaching about who Jesus is, about repentance (turning from sin), and why one must be baptised, but this will not take long to a receptive hearer; the problem may be denominational beliefs on salvation. So why would anyone claiming to be a preacher of the gospel of Christ wish to not mention what you must do to be saved, while asking you to follow Jesus? If someone in this audience is thinking, “what must I do to be saved?” is it not my duty as a servant of the Lord to make a clear, unambiguous answer to such a searching soul? See Acts 16:28-34 - “But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptised, he and all his, straightaway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”

Some are giving different answers to this question of how to be saved. We have men in the church saying that we are only changing our approach to preaching the Gospel, but brethren, some men are not preaching the Gospel and not telling people what they must do to be saved. When men receive an invitation to come to Christ we must know that God is giving the invitation, not a man who thinks he can change to suit the times or the audience he’s preaching to.

When I obeyed the gospel in becoming a Christian and learning how to follow our Lord, I thought everybody that believed in Jesus all believed and followed the same teachings - even on the one baptism (Eph 4:3-6). It did not take long for that blissful delusion to be rejected, because listening to the Bible leads you away from error. You know brethren, I have not come in contact with men that refuse to give a clear invitation to become a member of Christ’s saved body (you might think I live on the moon); but I just know that when men move away from the Bible - when they start compromising the truth - they will change their beliefs and will change the invitation on how you come to Christ.

I can still hear the words after a sermon that made me want to get baptised. (Mark 16:15 -16) - “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” I cannot remember what the sermon was about, but I know I needed saving from my sin and Jesus told me to be baptised just as surely as he told me to believe, and I immediately responded to that invitation. When you know you’re lost you remember what you need to do.

I suspect that if someone feels uncomfortable about asking those listening to the Bible message to come and confess Christ, to repent and be baptised, and to then continually walk in newness of life - if they can’t do that - they don’t believe the Bible as they should, and such men are not fit for the service of preaching to the lost.

In answer, someone might say “well , we do things a bit differently: we preach the gospel but we present Jesus, not a Church with a set of commands and conditions.” - as if they have found some new rich gospel that properly converts people to Christ. Now I understand that we all have different personalities, and you might like the way I say something and not the way someone else preaches exactly the same thing. Nonetheless, the doctrine, the final outcome, must be the same. If I fail to ask and invite people to come to Christ in the way God commands, I fail in truly converting souls to Christ.

It’s a sin to preach in a fashion that omits the commands that bring lost souls into the Body of Christ (Gal 1:9-10). So why then is there a need to extend an invitation at the end of a sermon?

1. Some may have never been asked before. (Acts 10:33) - “Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” Cornelius was such a man who had not heard, and wanted to know all that God had commanded Peter to preach to him. (Acts 10:47-48) - “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptised, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptised in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”

2. Without obeying, one is not in the Lord’s church. (Acts 2:41) - “Then they that gladly received his word were baptised: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:47) - “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” That’s what Peter told them to do - repent and be baptised. Then and only then can you be added to the one body, the church. (Acts 20:28; Eph 5:23).

3. A preacher should not lead his listeners to think that they can rejoice in God’s salvation without being baptised. (Acts 8:35-39) - “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptised? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptised him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.”

4. When someone is being urged to repent and be baptised , they should be made aware of the urgency and need to obey the invitation. (Acts 16:30-34) - “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptised, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house..”- (Acts 22:16) - “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptised, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

5. An invitation should be given to let everyone know that the gospel is personally appealing to them to obey it. That God is asking them, for God wants all to be saved and is waiting for them to respond. (1 Tim. 2:3-5; Tit. 3:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).

Is it a doctrine to give an invitation to repent and be baptised to those that are not saved members of Christ’s body? True, it is not stated that you must give an urgent invitation at the end of every sermon, but to fail to urge men to come to Christ in the way he has set down, (be it during the sermon, afterwards or talking to them privately, as in the case of Apollos), is a clear failure to follow the Lord’s commands and the apostles’ teachings and examples. Peter told his listeners to repent and be baptised for the forgiveness of sins. Philip the evangelist preached Jesus and instructed about baptism into Christ. Cornelius wanted to hear the message and was commanded to be baptised. So was Paul, and he had no hesitation to tell the uninformed about baptism by the authority of Christ in Acts 19:1-7. If preachers have difficulty in inviting men to become Christians in the way the apostles did, then they are not inviting men to Christ, but something else.

I am not suggesting at all that at the end of every sermon every example of conversion is read and examined, but if you as a preacher are doing your work right and you want people to be saved, you need to point out the need for faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, confession, and baptism, because it is essential that the lost hear this if they want to get to heaven. When we are preaching Christ crucified, it requires a response. (1 Cor. 1:18) - “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” It requires that men see Christ as the risen Saviour. It follows that people must be made aware of what they must do to be saved. I am happy to be presenting this lesson because it is a practice of my own to offer an invitation to Christ, and is very much appreciated by the brethren at Townsville.

The message of the Kingdom and work of Gods servants is one of an invitation (Lk. 14:15-24) (Matt. 22:1 -14) - “And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parable's, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Here we find that it is God Himself giving the invitation to come to a wedding feast because it is the Kingdom of Heaven that is being compared to this King’s invitation. This tells us clearly that when we are preaching the Gospel it is always an invitation to come to God’s feast as in vs. 8-10, where his slaves were doing the inviting and gathering of guests. There is equality in God’s reward to those that follow Him. But just as God has called all mankind to work for Him, many choose not to do so. We know that it is JUST A FEW in comparison.

If you were to receive an invitation by someone who loves you dearly, say for your mother’s 70th birthday or your brother, sister or daughter’s wedding, what would it take to say “I can’t go”? What kind of reason would you give?

Example: I don’t have the time, my work is demanding my attention, or would you just plan to do something else to conflict with the date of the invitation. If I truly love the person giving this invitation, I would do my best to be with them at the dinner or wedding they wish me to attend. I would have to be extremely ill in hospital not to come at the invitation of a loved one.

1. There must be a desire - If you make feeble excuses , it shows you care little about the one inviting you, who is wishing for your presence.

2. There must be an organising in your life, so that when others ask you to do something else, you say “No I can’t, I promised my daughter or mother I will be going to be with them.” We understand that we must set a date and keep it - keep to our priorities - even though other seemingly important things might demand us to change our plans to come.

3. Then there must be a compliance with the request on the invitation, that is, the inviter wants a reply. (It’s no good saying “I would have wished to go” but not reply to the invitation) A time is set, a place, and a form of dress which is appropriate for the occasion.

If I turned down an invitation to my daughter’s wedding, would I not be seen as cold and uncaring? What kind of heart then turns down an invitation to come to a wedding of God’s own son? A very important King has given this invitation.

Preachers of the Gospel must make sure we tell people how to reserve a place at this wedding feast (just like any invitation you would get today). The right time is now. All of us are indeed the invited but do we realise the urgency of making a reply? 2 Cor. 6:2 - “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” (Heb. 3:13) - “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

We need to tell them to change their plan in life - to repent and avoid worldly clashes with such an event (Acts 26:20).

We need to tell them the place: That is in Christ’s Body, the church. We need to urge people to be members. Acts 2:41 - “Then they that gladly received his word were baptised: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Eph. 5:30 “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.”

We need to tell them to dress in the appropriate clothes: This involves having our garment washed in Christ’s blood and living in the way Christ wills. (Gal. 3:26-27) - “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ.” (Rom. 13:14) - “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” (Col. 3:1-11; Rev. 7:14; 3:5; 19:7-5)

Like any invitation, the gospel message demands a response. We must realise that we are giving an invitation for a very important King - it’s God’s invitation. If a preacher of the Gospel fails to make clear how souls can comply with God’s invitation, that speaker is not giving God’s invitation. Souls will not be saved by hearing a man-made invitation. How would anyone be able to go to a wedding if he did not know such things as who it was for, where it was to be held, and what time? Brethren, people need to know what to do to be saved.

Consider that God is pleading with us: Acts 2:38-40 - “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”

An invitation at the end of a sermon is the speaker urging and pleading with the lost to come to Christ in the way God has asked. The gospel demands that men respond, the preacher should also urge this. The Apostles and other preachers always took the opportunity to tell the seeking listeners how to be saved; we must do the same if we are following Christ, and are His servants.

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