Thursday, March 14, 2013
The Vision (3/14/13): The Ministry of Invitation and an Upcoming Opportunity
As I read through the New Testament I am struck by the numerous references to what we might call “the ministry of invitation.” What is “the ministry of invitation”? It is the practice or discipline of encouraging and inviting people whom you know and meet to attend the Lord’s Day worship gatherings of God’s people where Christ is present and where Christ is preached. It is a form of evangelism with which all God’s people can be engaged. Consider a few Biblical examples:
· As Jesus “preached the word unto them” in a private home that was filled to the point “that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door,” four faithful men lowered their paralyzed friend through the roof so that he could be in the presence of Jesus (Mark 2:1-12).
· Andrew told his brother Simon, “We have found the Messiah.” Then John records, “And he brought him to Jesus” (John 1:41-42).
· Philip told his friend Nathaniel that he had found the one about whom Moses prophesied, Jesus of Nazareth. He then told his friend, “Come and see” (John 1:45-46).
· After meeting Jesus, the Samaritan woman at the well went to her village and invited her neighbors to come and hear Jesus: “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (John 4:29).
· When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth about their worship practices, he exhorted them to be edifying in their gatherings so that if “one that believeth not, or one unlearned” is in their midst, “the secrets of his heart” will be made manifest and “he will worship God” (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). This assumes the early believers were inviting unbelievers and the “unlearned” to be present in their gatherings so that they might come under the influence of Christ as he was preached in the Scriptures.
When a Christian invites someone to come to Lord’s Day worship in the gathering of God’s people, he is inviting that person to be in the presence of Christ as He is spiritually present in the assembly of the saints (Matthew 18:20). He is inviting that person to listen to Christ as He speaks in the Scriptures that are read and sung (Colossians 3:16). He is inviting that person to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him as He teaches (Ephesians 4:21).
Let me offer a practical challenge: The last Sunday of this month (March 31st) is “Easter Sunday.” As a Reformed congregation we do not follow the “holy-days” of the so-called “Christian calendar.” We do, however, observe the weekly gathering of God’s people for worship of the risen Jesus on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week. Many non-believers and even backslidden Christians are open to attending worship on days like Christmas or Easter. Can you begin now prayerfully to consider someone you might invite to “Come and see”? If that person is unwilling to attend our congregation (due to distance or for whatever reason) might you encourage him to seek out another Christ-centered church in his area? Let’s pursue the ministry of invitation as we have opportunity.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle