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Keith Phemister
I was talking to a man
whom I pastored, and while we were talking, he made a statement that took me
aback. He said that in our Baptist churches we do many things that are not biblical.
“For instance,” he said, “we have invitations and nowhere in the Bible does it
say for a church to have an invitation. If it isn’t biblical, then I will not
move during the invitation.”
Well, since we are on the
subject, where in the Bible does it say we should have pews? Offertories?
Organs? Pianos? How about Ushers? May I just say that because the Bible is
silent on an issue does not mean it is wrong! In fact, just because the Bible
does not address the issue of a public invitation does not mean that we are
wrong in conducting an invitation.
           I would
even go further and put that notion on the defensive. How about this; if it is
not in the Bible, then why don’t you show me where it violates Biblical
Charles G. Finney was held
as the pioneer of the “public invitation.” For the first time in his preaching
career at Evans Mill, New York, in 1825, Finney conducted an invitation and
asked anyone who would like to give his heart to God to come forward and take
the front seat. On his first attempt, Finney was successful.
Now Finney was not a
Baptist, he was a Presbyterian. I say that because of the belief I have that
what he did was biblical because it stood based on biblical principles.
The reason for conducting
an invitation can rest in the need for recognizing the saved so that the next
step can be easily pushed. How can we really know whom to baptize as part of
the “Great Commission” if there is not an identification of the saved?
A person does not need to
be saved in a church building. There are numerous instances of people in the
Bible being saved in places other than the church.
If you look in Acts 2,
Peter is preaching the very first sermon after our Lord’s Ascension. These Jews were pricked in their heart at the preaching
of God’s Word, and demanded, “What must we do?” Folks who are under conviction
should be told by the preacher what to do.
invitation is the answer to meet the need. The answer in this case was: Repent
and be baptized! I have a simple question to ask all of us. How did they know
whom to baptize that day unless they identified themselves?
          The Bible
says that about 3,000 were baptized. Before baptism, there was salvation.
Identification was necessary. Therein lies a very good reason for an
invitation. Whenever there is preaching, real Bible preaching – there rests a
demand for a decision. I have always been taught that preaching is teaching
with authority, persuading with the intent to make a decision. We have gotten away
from Biblical preaching and become teachers exclusively with the intent to not
“run off the crowd.”
The Biblical principle of
an invitation is evident in the Old Testament as well as the New. In Exodus
32:19-29, Moses came back from the mount, only to find the people having made
the golden calf. There was ungodly music and the people were found naked.
Exodus 32:26 says, “Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp,
and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of
Levi gathered themselves together unto him.”
Would that not be an
invitation to the people of God? Absolutely!
An Old Testament example
of the invitation is found in Deuteronomy 30:15-19,  15“See, I have
set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil: 16In
that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and
to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest
live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither
thou goest to possess it.   17But
if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt no hear, but shalt be drawn away,
and worship other gods, and serve them;   18I denounce unto you this day, that ye
shall surely perish, and that ye shall jnot prolong your days upon the land,
whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.   19I call heaven and
earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and
death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and they
seed may life:”
There is ample biblical principle for an invitation. See
also Joshua 24:15 and I Kings 18:17-21.
The simple truth of the
matter is that preaching demands a decision. There is a difference between
preaching and teaching. In our church, I desire a balance amongst our people. I
want them to get the fire and zeal that preaching gives, but I also want them
to get the knowledge that teaching brings. We need to also be aware that
biblical preaching will include teaching.
When I think of preaching,
I think of II Timothy 4:2 that says, “Preach
the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all
longsuffering and doctrine.”
Doctrine means teaching. Biblical preaching
involves reproving, rebuking, and exhorting. What does that mean? Here it is
broken down for us.
1. Reprove – to charge
with a fault, to excite a sense of guilt
2. Rebuke – to restrain,
to calm, to check
3. Exhort – to call for,
to encourage to obey
So, in conclusion, we see
a preacher is to identify sin, present the need to change, and finally urge one
to make a decision. No wonder our Lord said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

          We are to press them for a
decision. One of the most critical points in presenting the Gospel is what is
called, “Drawing the Net.” For the soul winner it is the invitation. It is the
time after preaching where we invite the sinner to “receive the Lord Jesus
Christ as personal Saviour.”
We must not bow to the
liberal’s way of doing things. The neo-evangelical crowd, emergent church philosophy
or even the seeker sensitive agenda must never cloud our minds. Just stay with
the old paths. We must stay the course and have an invitation.
The liberals blast
confrontational soul winning in the same way that invitations are blasted. All
because we are pressing the appeal to make a decision! 2 Corinthians 6:2 “…now is the accepted time; behold, now is
the day of salvation.”

The same people who claim
that the invitation is unbiblical are much of the same crowd who are consumed
with pride. Pride will keep one from going to the altar to do business with
In no way, shape or form
do I believe one must go down an aisle to be saved. It is belief in Christ
death, burial, and resurrection that saves, not walking an aisle. Sadly, there
may be some who think that walking an aisle is what saves them. Confession does
not save. Confession is for man.
When we confess Christ, we
show man our belief and God is glorified. Romans 10:10 states, “For with the heart man believeth unto
(God sees it) and with
the mouth confession is made
(man sees it) unto salvation.”

Nowhere in the Bible does
it say that confession is necessary for salvation. When Paul addressed the Jew
in Romans 10, he said to them that confessing Christ was essential to note salvation
from man’s point of view.
To the Jew, confessing
that Christ was Lord and not a man would mean a loss of friends, respect,
position and even life (witness Stephen and the Apostles). Even Paul himself,
in Acts 9:1, persecuted those Jews who had confessed Christ.
Yes, according to biblical
principles a public invitation is desired and needed. We will continue to give
an invitation as long as we continue to preach. God give us strength and wisdom
to continue to carry on what we have been taught and never waver.

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