Please give a salvation invitation. Not every week, perhaps (unless evangelism is your spiritual gift, in which case you don’t need this post). Not even every month. I’m not suggesting you set much of a schedule at all. But periodically, as the Holy Spirit leads, or as the calendar suggests, speak to those in your congregation who are not saved, invite them to cross the line of faith, and lead them in a prayer of faith, right there, on the spot.
It is not my objective, in this post, to defend the idea of evangelism, the gospel of grace, or salvation as a “moment” in which a person passes from death to life. I have done that here and here and here. Nor will we engage the calvinist/arminian controversy, except to say…
My hero, Charles Spurgeon preached for conversion BECAUSE he was a Calvinist: “If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” (An excellent article here on Spurgeon’s gospel preaching.)
FOUR BENEFITS OF YOUR FAITHFUL SALVATION INVITATIONS:
1. People will get saved. Over 44 in our services a few weeks ago. Over 35 the time before that. Right away I hear the objections: Those aren’t real! Those people aren’t saved! You’re giving them false hope! If I’m giving them false hope, you, by doing nothing, are giving them no hope. When they look at me with tears in their eyes, when they beam the broadest smile you’ve ever seen, when they take steps of growth and faith, when they enter the waters of baptism… I know it’s real. When the early church had 3,000 professions of faith in a day, they didn’t vet everybody. They just celebrated and moved on. Quit dousing the Spirit’s flame in the icy waters of your legalistic, Pharisaical, sanctimonious, holier-than-thou, judgmental, hypocrisy. If you can’t leap for joy over a person professing faith in Christ, the devil has stuck a stone where your heart should be.
2. Your congregation will feel confident about bringing their unsaved friends. If you preach only to the choir, the choir is all you’ll see. As pastor/ preacher/ minister/ priest, part of your job is creating environments where lost people can hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, we must go to them. But don’t forget the invitation to come and dine: And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. (Luke 14:23). In an evangelistic sermon, you preach solid doctrine, but you DECODE that doctrine into understandable units. When you speak only to the people of God, you speak gibberish to lost people. When you speak to lost people, you bless both the saved and the lost, and the saved will grow increasingly confident to invite their unsaved friends to hear you.
3. Your congregation will be solidified in the gospel of grace. Lance Latham, the founder of Awana, penned a short book before his death: The Two Gospels. In it, he suggests gospel preaching has as much power in the life of believers as in unbelievers. You therefore, my [child], be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:1, NKJV). How will they grow strong in grace unless you preach them the gospel? As your people discover the richness of the gospel — the innumerable angles from which the gospel diamond sparkles — the voice of the Accuser grows stifled even as their assurance, their worship, their courage, their humility, their love for the Savior grows stronger. They will see how the gospel is perfectly suited to every emotional state, intellectual crisis, and spiritual need they’ll ever face.
4. Your congregation will be trained in evangelism. How will they share the gospel if they never hear you preach it? How will they tie the knot if you never show them how? How will they answer objections unless you equip them? You expect them to evangelize in the world, but how can they unless you model it? There is a limitless variety of topics for evangelistic preaching, but like a funnel, the topics always lead through the Cross to a simple prayer of faith. Be consistent in that prayer. For me, it’s simple as ABC: Admit, Believe, Choose. Scores of people in my church have used that same prayer over coffee to lead their friends to Christ. [Here is my sermon on those ABCs and tying the knot, video, audio, and print.]
Paul tells you, Pastor: But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:5, NKJV). Do not be ashamed of the Gospel. Preach it! Teach it! Shout it from the rooftops! You have been given a PULPIT. If the pastor in the pulpit will not be a herald of the gospel, who will? “Preach your sermon and run to the Cross,” said the late evangelist Paul Edwardson.
If there is not a stream of new converts occupying your pews, maybe your theology is not as correct as you think it is.
Heaven watches, the angels cheer, and demons groan in dismay when you follow in that long train of faithful ministers who preach Christ Crucified.
May heaven surround you innumerable friends who found Christ through you.
Praying for souls with you,