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The Response of Preaching: Why the Gospel Invitation Matters

The Response of Preaching: Why the Invitation Matters

Jerusalem was probably quiet as the Day of Pentecost dawned on those 120 believers who prayed fervently in that upper room. Few outside that sacred prayer vigil could have expected the glorious events about to occur. Then marvelously, God opened the windows of heaven and endued those Christians with the Holy Spirit. The Shekinah fire that had shown gloriously above the Mercy Seat now burned inside the hearts of every follower of Christ. That heavenly wind gave a deafening noise as the glaring light of the celestial tongues of fire spread through that room. Suddenly, supernaturally, unlearned men spoke inexplicably about the glories of God in languages they had never learned. The Great Communicator revealed the Gospel of His Son to the Jews first. He made sure they heard that message in their own, particular dialect. Unsurprisingly, some rogues accused the evangels of being “full of sweet wine.” But Peter, emboldened by the Holy Spirit, rather than denying Jesus, took his stand with the other 11 apostles and spoke out. He proclaimed the Gospel based on several Old Testament texts and concluded by extending a Gospel invitation for his listeners to respond. Luke gives a synopsis of Peter’s invitation:

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2:38–40) 

That was the first Gospel invitation to be extended after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. It gave birth to the church by calling people to repent and turn from sin. Such repentance included simultaneous faith in Jesus’ vicarious death and victorious resurrection. Those who repented and believed would “be saved,” filled with the Holy Spirit, receive “the forgiveness of sins,” and would express their salvation publicly by being baptized. Three thousand souls were ushered into God’s kingdom that day. We know that because Peter preached the Gospel and extended an invitation.

The Response of Preaching: Why the Invitation Matters

Oddly, some preachers today avoid extending Gospel invitations when they preach. That seems so unbiblical and strange. Why tell people about salvation and not give them the chance to receive it? Why offer living water and not invite people to taste and see that the Lord is good? Who has attended a wedding where the preacher failed to lead the couple in their vows? Even so, why should any preacher recoil from the extending of sincere, persuasive Gospel invitations?

Some say they fear manipulation that might result in bogus conversions. On similar grounds, some forbid immediate baptism for new converts to make sure those who respond bear spiritual fruit that confirms the legitimacy of their conversions.