The "Invitation"

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Jeffrey H, Jul 11, 2003.

  1. Jeffrey H

    Jeffrey H
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    Man of us Baptists have an "invitation" that comes at the end of worship service. In my reading of church and baptist history, the "invitation" is a relatively new practice. Some questions come to mind:

    When did this practice begin?
    Why do we do it?
    Is it biblical?
    Has it contributed to "easy-believism"? ("I walked the aisle and got saved")
    Is it a faster way to get people to join the church?
    Should not the sermon itself be the "invitation" to call people to Christ?
     
  2. stevenlynch

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    If there was a better, simpler way to do it... I'm sure Billy Graham would have found it by now.

    I mean...what do you do when you have a few thousand of your closest new brothers desire to enter the Kingdom of Heaven?

    You want to tell them not to come down and find out what it means to be saved?

    Steve
     
  3. gb93433

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    There were 4000 saved in one day in Acts, They had to have had some way of knowing so there must have been some kind of invitation given and a response.

    I think when we preach historical Christianity it is not easy believism.

    We know there are a number who just tell the people to come forward and receive Jesus to get saved so you can have a place in heaven.

    If we tell the people the cost involved in following Jesus the decision that is made is thought through and the likelihood that the person will make a sound decision is greater.

    When a person in the early church was baptized they were then naming Christ as their Lord thereby remouncing the emperor as their lord. The emperoror could have had them executed.

    I personally think that the invitation is to allow for a personal repsonse to God not a manipu;ation tactic to get to go for a swim in the baptismal tank. We know that there are some associations where a pastor has baptized the same person up to five times.

    We are to lead people not manipulate them.

    Once I gave an invitation at the end of a sermon and a lady came forward. She told me that she had been praying al week that she would have ythe courage to come forward. A strong invitation leads to a person who has already taken the courage to come forward and will more likely grow in courage and faith to share with others.
     
  4. ScottEmerson

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    I think that an invitation should just be for people to learn more about salvation. These people should be taken to talk with a person who can answer questions and lead that person to Jesus Christ. I'm definitely not a big fan of the "sinner's prayer" being recited and having people raise their hands to say that they are saved. Something just doesn't sit right with me there.
     
  5. JesusisGod2

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    I believe the first "invitation" was initiated by Jesus himsel in:

    Matthew 11:28 " Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest"

    so this is the example that not only baptist but most churches follow.

    And as far as the sermon itself being the invitation, Jesus made the appeal at the end of His sermon.

    So its safe to say it is part of the sermon, as far as I see it anyway


    Hope it helps :D
     
  6. LadyEagle

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    I'm not a preacher, but if I were, I would never want a service to pass without giving an invitation. I would not want someone's blood on my hands when I stand before the throne because I failed to present the Gospel and give someone an opportunity to receive Christ as Lord and Savior.

    It's probably a good thing I'm a woman and not allowed to preach. Do I hear an Amen? [​IMG] :rolleyes: :eek: :cool: [​IMG]
     
  7. JesusisGod2

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    Amen [​IMG] :D [​IMG]
     
  8. Sola-Scriptura

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    Spurgeon and Martyn Lloyd-Jones are two that I can think of that consciously refused to use the altar call. They felt that preaching should be allowed to do it's full work in the conscience without pressing for a "decision". We are called to make disciples not count numbers of "decisions". We should have preaching that makes them cry out "what shall we do" (Acts 2:37)
    but the plea should not be for a "decision to follow Jesus", but rather that they should "repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15)
    Deciding gives the impression that we are turning our life around and adding a new arrow to our "personal development" quiver. But to embrace Christ through the gospel is not "deciding" to do something, but responding to the convicting work that God by his Spirit has done in the sinner. In all honesty, I don't care if someone runs to the preacher in mid-sermon if that person is under conviction and is placing their trust in Christ.(although, probably out of order)
    But if someone has saving faith in Christ, we need not worry that that person will "get away" because we didn't call them to the front. Repentance in the heart is "coming to the front" in God's eyes.
     
  9. Dr. Bob

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    If Matthew 11 was a sermon, I think we'll have to have a thread defining "sermon".

    Jesus "upbraided" cities for no faith, prayed to the Father (thanking Him for NOT giving the faith to believe to the non-elect) then gave the invitation that He knew would only be received by the elect.

    Preaching? Yup. Calvinism.
     
  10. KenH

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    If the sermon itself is not telling the sinner he needs to come to Jesus in repentance and faith, tacking on a "come to the front" at the end of the sermon is not going to "save" the sermon from being rubbish.

    Anyway, there is nothing special about the front of the auditorium, or the back, or the sides. If a person is lost, they had best repent and believe on the spot where they are and not wait 30 minutes for a sermon to end and walk to the front pew.
     
  11. Dr. Bob

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    The modern "invitation system" is a direct result of really abherrant theology introduced by arminian and semi-pelagian. It is a byproduct of self-redemption, with the action of MAN taking priority over the choices of God.

    About 130 years ago the historic trend of invitations as a part of the sermon and not as an added, psychologically-manipulative, crowd dynamic (ala Billy Graham) began.

    Evangelists, trained in rhetoric and employing devices, stories (tear jerkers) encouraged outward show over inward decision. Charles Finney, Bill Sunday made it an art form.

    My question has always been WHY? Why did our Baptist churches adopt such an unbiblical practice and make it normative? Think dependence on MAN for the response and fruit rather than GOD came from rejection of reformed theology and substituting it with arminianism.

    (BTW, I preached 14 months and gave an invitation in every service. Never an altar call, but always an invitation. Without an impetus to respond, the sermon is merely a speech)
     
  12. John Wells

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    Just before our church's closing hymn, our pastor says something like, "If God's spoken to you today, or if you have questions and want to talk to me, or if you want to start the process for church membership, or you just want to come to the alter and pray, you respond as God leads you!"

    The hymn is usually kept quite short . . . no 15 verses of "Jesus Is Calling!" :D
     
  13. TheGroominator

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    I believe that the invitation serves a very useful purpose. When a person is ready to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior it is sometimes hard for them to know exactly what is required of them to do so. When that person comes forward, the preacher or deacon or whomever is meeting them at the front will ask them the questions that will place the certainty of salvation in their hearts. Instead of walking out wandering "Am I saved? Did I do the right thing?" they will have the assurance that they have the Holy Spirit in their hearts, not because they came forward but because they were led through the plan of salvation according to the Word of God, prayed to God for forgivness of their sins and then publicly proclaimed it with their mouth.
     
  14. ColoradoFB

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    I have been in churches where you keep singing and singing until somebody goes forward just to put an end to the service. [​IMG]

    I suppose you could equate a sermon without an invitation as a sales presentation without asking for the sale. I think it better to be available, but not to play the "with every head bowed, every eye closed, now raise you hand" junk. That is manipulation.

    John, I like the way you describe your pastor handling it.
     
  15. Grasshopper

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    I would not want someone's blood on my hands when I stand before the throne because I failed to present the Gospel and give someone an opportunity to receive Christ as Lord and Savior.

    So their salvation is dependant upon you?
     
  16. Tim

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    Finney wrote that the ability of the preacher is a primary factor in whether people are saved when God's Word is preached. So apparently he believed it DID depend on him.

    Maybe he encouraged the use of "invitations" as a form of self-validation for the preacher? So he would know if his words were "working"?
     
  17. Jim1999

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    Theology aside, we ought always to preach as if it all depends on us, and pray, knowing it is all of God, and in the end all the elect will be saved regardless. For some reason, the whole of scripture indicates that man is the vehicle of God's word, the Holy Spirit the Applicator of the word, and man's response the indicator that God has done His work.

    I can't recall every giving a "soul-saving" invitation or "altar call" in all my ministry. I often asked for a silent moment of contemplation following a sermon,,,followed by prayer and a closing hymn.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  18. Major B

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    Early on in my Christian life, I'd always heard great things about Finney, until one day when I picked up his "Lectures on Systematic Theology." The book was so rank that I was shocked. If Finney were alive and on this BB, he would be among the 5% most liberal theologians here. Example: "Forensic justification is a doctrine of demons." It gets worse after that: he did not believe that children were born sinners.

    After that incident, I read more Finney and came to the conclusion that he was not an arminian, nor was he a semi-pelagian, but that he was a raw out-and-out Pelagian.

    This is the guy who invented the modern invitation system.
     
  19. MissAbbyIFBaptist

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    When did it begain? well I'm thinking Bible days because like someone pointed out, how are you going to be able to know how many were saved otherwise?
    Why do we do it? So people have a chance to get right with God, pray for a need, or get saved.
    Is it biblical? It could be, since the Atuhor of Acts knew 4000 had been saved, but I can't remember anything other than that.
    Has it contributed to easy believisum?
    In some churches prehaps, but if you walk down the isle in my church wanting to get saved, you will be met by someone who knows their Bible, and will be able to give you a clear veiw of salvation.
    And as for getting more members,My church has no desire to gain unregenerate members. No hope is better than false hope, and you're talkin to the girl that spent her childhood holding on to a false profession.
    God used people to get out the gospel. God calls men to preach it. God said He used "the foolishness of preaching." When God's man preaches God's message to people who need it {and if God wants him to preach it, there will be people that need it.} it will work. God said His word wouldn't return void. It always does what GOd wants it to do, wheither we see it or not. I don't win a soul everytime I wittness, and a pastor may not see a convert everytime he preaches, but that dosn't mean God didn't use it. I've sat under many many many many messages on salvation, and I didn't get saved in a church service...but those messages broght conviction, and without those messages, I never would have know my need for salvation.
    I belive the alter call is wondeful. My Grandma got saved during invitation, and hers was definatly real! I have seen lives changed during an alter call. I myself have knealt numerous times to confess sin, to pray for others, to bring a burden. I can't tell you how many times I've pored out my heart on the alter. How many times I soaked the carpet with tears. It was at the alter, during invitation, a year after my salvation, I fully gave God my life. It was their I surrended my life. He already had my heart, but He needed my life too.
    If you don't want an alter call at your church, I don't see as you have too, but I'm very thankful for a chance to get right with God after a convicting sermon, or to pray for a need most pressing. And I'm extremly thankful for those in my church that got saved at the alter.
    ~Miss Abby [​IMG]
     
  20. LadyEagle

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    No, but hearing the Gospel might be. We never know when it might be the first or last time someone hears.

    I remember a story a preacher I know once told us. A man's wife had been praying for years for him to come to church with her, for him to be saved. Finally, at last, after years of prayer, the man came to church. An invitation was given. He did not go forward but stayed back at the pew. He clenched the back of the pew in front of him until his knuckles turned white during the closing hymn and prayer. But he didn't go forward. That afternoon, he had a heart attack. That was his last chance. As far as anyone knew, he never received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. For all anyone knows, he is spending eternity lost.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, those last fleeting seconds as his heart beat for the last few times, he asked to receive Christ, but at this point, only God knows. [​IMG]

    Being "called" to be a preacher, an evangelist, a missionary is a special anointing, not to be taken lightly, I would think. Of course, there are many preachers and pastors, etc. in the world, but not all are called of and by God. To some, it is a calling. To others, it is a profession.
     

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