NT Justification for Invitations

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by richard n koustas, Aug 18, 2006.

  1. richard n koustas

    richard n koustas
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    I pulled these quotes from the following thread: http://www.baptistboard.com/showthread.php?t=32427 . Since I "do not believe invitations are scriptural", i started a new thread...

    is there any evidence that either "invitations" or calls for specific decsions were done in the new testament church? is there any examples (like from the book of Acts) or instructions (like from the so-called pastoral epistles)?
     
  2. saturneptune

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    I cannot think of any New Testement examples to mirror the modern day invitation to become a Christian or join a church while several verses of a selected hymn are sung. Now, when Annias and Saphira were confronted by John and church leaders about lying to the Lord, they could have made a right decision for the Lord. That is not a very good analogy.

    Pauls conversion is certainly not an example of the modern day invitation. God came to Paul and regenerated him. It was all God's doing.

    Although the invitation can be a way to express that God has regenerated you, and therefore salvation in Jesus Christ will follow, the modern invitation also allows for decisions based on feelings, emotions, a friend went up, not on the call of God.
     
  3. 2BHizown

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    We are not 'invited' but actually commanded to believe!

    Peter, in his sermon said, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, or ye shall all likewise perish!'
     
  4. Baptist_Pastor/Theologian

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    I think I understand your issue with the invitation but let me make sure.
    1-You are against the notion that man decides he can be saved.
    2-You are against the notion that deciding for yourself gives people a false sense of security in salvation but they do not have that power.
    3-You are basically against man centered theology.

    If I do not have it then please correct me.

    As a strongly reformed believer let me just say that when we preach the gospel if we give an invitation or do not it does not really matter. The most important thing is that we preach the gospel.

    What strikes me as humorous though is the notion that we as Calvinist often get bent out of shape about the invitation mostly because we hear such flawed theological appeals going forth during that time. However, I believe that if we truly understand the doctrine of predestination then we can have assurance in knowing that nothing is outside of the scope of God's influence and control. We know he is sovereign in salvation and we know his will is going to be done. Therefore, I do not worry about the invitation being man centered because God can use man to draw the elect if he so chooses. However, I am fully aware that I can shout and snort, kick and fuss and not one more person will come into the kingdom than that which the will of the Lord allowed. I also realize I can preach a message and sit down with no invitation and if it is God's will the whole lot of them could come to saving faith. Salvation is a mystery and we do not truly understand the nature of how some believe and others do not. However, if you look at Romans 10 there is clearly present a role for the preacher. If we use Peter's preaching as an example in Acts 2 it certainly appears he gave an invitation to receive Christ after preaching to the crowd. My basic position is that there is no harm in giving one but make sure you do not use unsound theology in the appeal.
     
  5. LeBuick

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    It is my understanding, when one is extended an invitation to discipleship, he is offered by the extention of the right hand of fellowship. When the preacher "opens the doors to the Church" he should stand, extending his right hand which is offereing the unsaved or believing non-member of the Church, the opportunity to accept the right hand of fellowship. When one comes down the isle, he is accepting the right hand of fellowship. This is the first step to joining a Church or "fellowship" (not the body of Christ). This act is symbolic of entering into an agreement or treaty. It is said to go back to the blood covenant where each man would cut his right hand, then shaking, would enter into a blood convenant. In this case, Jesus provides the blood.

    In the below verse, you see Apostles James (Jesus half brother), Cephas (Cephas is Aramaic for Peter) and John accepting Paul and Barnabas into fellowship. This is after listening to Paul and finding grace in his gospel of the uncircumcision in the previous verses. Paul is saying they accepted them by giving the right hand of fellowship.

    Galatians 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

    This of course was Paul being respectful to Peter in front of company because by verse 11 they were in Antioch where Paul confronted him.
     
  6. LeBuick

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    What are some examples of these flawed appeals? Don't most preachers recite scriptures? I say whosoever will, let him come...

    Rev 22:17*And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
     
  7. richard n koustas

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    most of my years were spent in a nonbaptist bible believing church. i have heard scores of 'gospel' messages that did not end in an invitation. the gospel was presented, and that's it. just like, i think, it was done in the nt.

    when i was a youth leader, one of the men in the church hosted a bbq and pool party for the kids. he presented a solid gospel message, and left it. there was another youth event where thousands of kids came. they had a speaker at the end of the day (after sports and music). an invitation was given. a couple girls from my group went forward. i joined them as they went up. what they got from the volunteer counselor was no more than a plug for christian radio.

    now, i attend a baptist church...an invitation, or alter call, or whatever, is extended at the end of each sermon. it almost seems like the effectivness of the sermon is guaged by the number of people that leave theiir seats. i was just wondering if the invitation or alter call, was from the nt and i was missing it somehow...
     
  8. pinoybaptist

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    Right Hand of Fellowship

    I pastored a Primitive Baptist Church for two years or so in lieu of a brother who just married and for some reason felt that he needed to resign the pastorate.
    Before that I was a member of the church under his leadership.
    Often he would issue an invitation into membership and/orfellowship with the church under almost the same context LeBuick wrote about.
    I say almost because as Primitive Baptists we believe that when a person comes forward to join the church through baptism and not transfer of membership, then that person is already a child of God not in need of eternal salvation but of a home church where he can go and be edified, nourished, and instructed.
    Many invitations I have heard, however, before I joined a Primitive Baptist church, looking back, were unscriptural (not in the NT either as doctrine or practice of the first church).
    No disrespect to anyone, but that's just the way I see it.
    Jesus Christ IS Savior, and He did what He came to do in accordance with His Father's will, to save His people.
    His redemption work is done, finished, and all that need to be redeemed by His blood were and are redeemed.
    His work is done, and now it is the Holy Spirit working by regenerating, in His own time and choosing, those for whom redemption was completed, and so when a person responds to an invitation to fellowship, that person has been quickened by the Holy Spirit, and has already submitted himself to Christ.
     
  9. pinoybaptist

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    Every now and then my wife and I would go visit with a nearby Baptist church.
    It is not a Primitive Baptist church, it is not even a Reformed Baptist church. It is Arminian out and out.
    But we go there for the music. They sing the Old Songs of Zion, which you cannot say about some of the Reformed Baptist churches we've been to around these parts of Western New York.
    They have a pastor who preaches wonderfully, and is a loving man, and they have a church "worker" with big hands and big frame who often darkens the doors of our house when he visits. He never invited us to join the church, and we feel him to be a very sincere man.
    However, all that being said, almost after every service we come away feeling frustrated because for all the wonderful way Christ was preached crucified, the service always ends up with him being offered almost like a commodity you can either accept or reject, and like his mission failed or fails unless the sinner does something about it.
     
  10. saturneptune

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    The invitation has a certain value to it if it is an instrument to call regenerated people to salvation. Growing up in a Presbyterian church and never having one, its kind of good to know its there. But, over the years, its now easy to understand how the invitation could encourage a profession of faith in Christ based on emotion, feeling, a friend goes up, or you like the speaker.
     
  11. PeterM

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    While I am probably calvinistic in my thinking, I think the practice of an invitation is an "OK" thing.

    The idea that one must "walk an isle" to become a Christian is silly and biblically unsound. That thinking has cause some to believe they are secure because they have walked the isle.

    My thinking is that the "invitation" provides folks with an opportunity to respond to what they have heard in the message or during the week.

    The idea that the invitaion is an opportunity to fulfill the mandate to make one's faith public is also a result of poor hermaneutics. The idea that if we strole the isle and tell the church we are christians has become another item on the Baptist checklist. Living out our faith in the day to day living practices out in the world is the intent. Living unashamedely among all people both inside the walls of the church and outside is the standard we should commending to our people.
     
  12. Baptist_Pastor/Theologian

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    I do not think you are missing anything. I just think that the contemporary church is not a one to one comparison to the NT church, and that is not to the credit of the contemporary church, for it would certainly do well to immulate the NT model. First off the NT church did not have a corporate location. The NT believers meet in each others homes.

    I tend to agree with Buick in terms of the offer of fellowship being an important aspect to the invitation. In a Baptist church the invitation is the time designated for people to join the church.

    Now as to your comments on how people react to the invitation in terms of judging the merit of the service, I think you have a great point. It does cheapen the Holy Spirit's work to what men consider to be the most important aspect of the Spirit's work, when people walk down the isle. However, I do not think that pays significant attention to the true work of the Spirit which is more than a superficial enumeration of decisions.

    Let me recommend a book for you to read if you have not yet had the opportunity. Jonathan Edwards, "The Religious Affections." This book will make you reconsider many things that people falsely believe to be genuine works of the Spirit.
     
  13. Tom Butler

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    LeBuick asked: What are some examples of these flawed appeals? Don't most preachers recite scriptures? I say whosoever will, let him come...


    Come to where? Most invititations I hear equate coming with coming down the aisle to the front. I don't really think that's what it means.

    Seems to me the coming doesn't mean we go somewhere. It is an appeal to turn to Christ as our only hope of salvation.

    Another: "Jesus (or God) is waiting for you here. Come on down."

    Another: "Meet Christ here at the altar." "Come to the altar and pray." What altar? I know there's no real altar, so what is the symbolism here? Lay your life down for Jesus as Jesus laid his life down for us? Does a lost person understand this? Does a saved person understand it. Never heard it explained, ever.

    Maybe that's why someone got upset with the pastor when he closed a service without an invitation. "Why," she said, "how are people going to get saved if you don't give an invitation?"
     
  14. richard n koustas

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    this is more of the type of altar call i was talking about...it seems as if we are to be convicted of something during the sermon, and at the end walk down the isle to pray "at the alter". "What altar?" it looks like a couple carpeted steps to me. i remember only one person that went forward, was baptised a couple weeks later, then we never saw him again...other than that, it may be me, but it seems like the same couple of people, every week, that come under conviction of the pastor, and fold over in the front of the church.

    what ever happened to the "worship" in the worship service?
     
  15. LeBuick

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    Sorry I didn't finish the invitation, come freely drink the water of life.


    @Baptist_Pastor/Theologian and pinoybaptist I agree, the invitation is to the Church fellowship and to be a disciple (student) of Christ. Coming does not equal salvation but I believe the same about the physical baptism. It is when one is baptized with the holy spirit that they are actually saved.
     
  16. StraightAndNarrow

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    Mat 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

    Mat 8:22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

    Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.


    Mat 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.


    Mar 2:14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the [son] of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.

    Mar 8:34 And when he had called the people [unto him] with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

    Mar 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.


    Luk 5:27 And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me.


    Luk 9:23 And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.


    Luk 9:59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.


    Luk 18:22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.


    Jhn 1:43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.


    Jhn 12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will [my] Father honour.
     
  17. Tom Butler

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    LeBuick said, Sorry I didn't finish the invitation, come freely drink the water of life.

    That helps to clarify what it means for the "Spirit and the Bride say come..."

    But tone of many invitations or altar calls is that the water of life of which you are urged to drink freely can be obtained down at front.

    I have no problem with invitations that appeal to those who which to make public their confession of faith in Christ to come forward and give testimony of their conversion. But for goodness sake, please don't vote on them then and there.

    I also think an invitation can be worded to invite those who believe God is dealing with them about their salvation (or any other matter), to remain and see the pastor or other counselors after the service has ended. Same thing if they desire to join the church by letter.

    In no case should an immediate vote take place on membership without some counseling or questioning privately by the pastor and/or deacons, and definitely not without their recommendation.
     
  18. LeBuick

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    I'm not sure I follow your logic here, we are voting them in the Church? Not the body of Christ, the aggregate body that fellowships in the building. It is the one place sinners ought to feel welcome and membership should be given as freely as it was received. That's like not letting sick people in the free clinic???

    Matthew 10:5-8 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
    6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
    7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
    8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

    Why deny someone a chance at something that is plentiful and free?
     
  19. John of Japan

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    Forgive me, but most of you folk seem to have a pretty hazy idea of the invitation. It is not just having folk come down front while the piano plays 92 stanzas of "Just As I Am." The invitation can take many forms. Here in Japan, since my church is so small, I usually just ask them to pray where they are for a minute, and take it to God. That is an invitation to act on what they have just heard. However, one time a few years ago there was a man I knew needed to make a public profession of faith, ala Romans 10:9-10, so I gave a "come on down" invitation. He is now the best Christian in my church!

    An old time Baptist preacher named Faris Whitesell wrote a book in 1945, 65 Ways To Give an Evangelistic Invitation. The great R. G. Lee wrote the foreward. To give you just one example, the first invitation Whitesell gives is to respond later, perhaps by making an appointment with the pastor. You have to agree, there is nothing high pressure about that.

    If you want a more recent book, check out The Effective Invitation by R. Alan Streett (Revell, 1984). The front cover has a recommendation by W. A. Criswell, said recently by someone on the BB to be a Calvinist. (I commend you Calvinists on this thread who see that the invitation can be Biblical, though it is sometimes abused.) Streett gives clear historical evidence that the invitation goes back much further than Finney, the usual suspect. For example, he talks about the preaching of John Chrysostom (347-407), Patrick (390-461), etc. He documents the fact that in the 12th century Bernard of Clairvaux would ask for a show of hands after his messages.

    Concerning how the NT church did it, look at Peter's words in Acts 2:38-42--"38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized 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. 39 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. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls."

    If that isn't an evangelistic invitation, I don't know what is. Sure, no organs were playing, but it was an invitation for folks to trust Christ right then and there. Meanwhile, the other disciples, the "personal workers," were going through the crowd speaking to folks in their own language and exhorting them to trust Christ.
     
  20. tinytim

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    If you're wanting an example of the way an invitation is given today in churches from the NT, you will not find it...

    The main reason? There were no church buildings in the NT. No aisles to walk down. No pews to set in. They met in homes... it was more personal. Oh and most people were saved outside the meetings, not in them. why?

    Well put yourself in their shoes. A sinner could have "ratted you out" if they did not accept Christ as Savior. They could have went to the authorities and told them about your little "cult" And you could have been killed.

    So anyone they brought into the worship service, they made sure was already a Christian. So why would there have been an invitation, if they already knew everyone there was saved?

    But times changed, and church buildings were built, and pews were brought in, and people got comfortable, and forgot where they came from. And got lazy. No longer do we go to the streets for converts, we wait in our pews for them to come to us.

    Is an invitation wrong just because it is not commanded in the NT to be given? No more than the other things we do on a Sunday morning that are not mentioned in the NT. Bulletins, choirs, Microphones, pulpits, the altar, indoor plumbing, musical instruments, a prelude, postlude, doxology, Sunday School, birthdays, anniversaries, announcements, etc. are not mentioned, but are used for God.
     

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