Extending a Public Invitation—The Reasons Why
Proponents of the public invitation greatly outnumber its critics. Why do so many pastors and evangelists feel the need to extend a call to their listeners to appropriate the gospel publicly to their lives?
Men, women and children (who have reached the age of accountability) need Christ, or they will perish eternally. God has chosen in His infinite wisdom to use human vessels to reach these lost ones with the message of His redeeming love. Not only does God commission preachers to carry the gospel to every creature, He also commissions them to issue a call to rebellious men to respond positively to the gospel. The proclamation and the invitation cannot be separated. The Apostle Paul showed the connection between the two when he wrote: “For … it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.… But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:21, 24).
Commenting on this important passage, Dr. Stephen F. Olford writes:
There are two words that sum up the divine process in the invitation of the gospel. The one is the word “called,” and the other is the word “believe.” The one describes the offer of God: He calls; it is His effectual call. The other denotes the response of man: he believes, he commits himself.
Through the proclamation of the gospel, God speaks to hearts (John 16:8; Acts 24:25); through the invitation, He beseeches men to be reconciled to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:20). The gospel presentation demands a verdict. To deliver the kērygma only, without issuing an invitation, is to be disobedient to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19). As Dr. C. Sumner Wemp has said, “We preach not to inform but to transform our listeners.”
R. Alan Streett, The Effective Invitation: A Practical Guide for the Pastor (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 139–140.