Stylos is the blog of Jeff Riddle, a Reformed Baptist Pastor in North Garden, Virginia. The title "Stylos" is the Greek word for pillar. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul urges his readers to consider "how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar (stylos) and ground of the truth."
Image (left side): Decorative urn with title for the book of Acts in Codex Alexandrinus.
Monday, January 27, 2014
The Ministry of Invitation
Note: Below are notes from my Sunday afternoon message on "the discipline of inviting non-believers into the meetings of God's people."
The Ministry of Invitation
Luke 5:18-20; John 4:28-30; 1
CRBC January 26, 2014
We are continuing a short series on personal ministry.How can a believer be useful in kingdom
work?In what ways can he lawfully serve
How can a believer be engaged in evangelism?One way is through the often neglected
ministry of invitation, that is, the spiritual discipline of inviting unbelievers
into the meetings of God’s people so that they might (1) be exposed to the
witness of God’s people, (2) be under the preaching of the gospel, and (3)
through this be placed before Christ himself as he is present in his gathered
people and as he speaks through the reading and proclamation and through the
singing of his word.Compare:
Ephesians 4:20 But yehavenot so learned
Christ; 21 If so be that yehave heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth
is in Jesus:
Hebrews 2:11 For both he that
sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause
he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 Saying, I will declare thy name
unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee
[citing Psalm 22:22].
need also to note that God has particularly ordained the preaching of the
gospel to be the means of convincing and converting sinners:
1 Corinthians 1:21 For after
that inthe wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it
pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that
To demonstrate the significance of this ministry of
invitation I want to look at three NT passages:
of the paralytic in Luke 5:18-20:
Luke 5:17 And it came to pass
on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors ofthe law sitting by, which were come out of every town of
Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the
power ofthe Lord was present to heal them. 18 And, behold, men
brought in a bed a man which was
taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him.
19 And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because ofthe multitude,
they went upon the housetop, and
let him down through the tiling
with his couch into themidst before Jesus.
Notice:There was a man who was paralyzed and could not
move.He had friends who had compassion
on him in his circumstances, and they sought means to bring him and lay him
before Jesus.They knew that his best
chance for healing was to place him “into the midst before Jesus.”
woman at the well in John 4:28-30:
John 4:28 The woman then left her waterpot, and
went her way into the city, and
saith to the men, 29 Come, see a
man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? 30 Then they went out ofthe city, and came unto him.
that this woman did not go as a preacher or teacher.She went as an inviter.She had the power of her own personal experience
of Jesus.By her invitation men came to listen
to Jesus for themselves.
the fruit in John 4:39-42.
3. The description of worship in the church at
Corinth in 1 Corinthians 14:23-25:
1 Corinthians 14:23 If
therefore the whole church be come together into one
place, and all speak with tongues, and there come inthose that are unlearned [idiotai:unskilled or
untrained], or unbelievers [apistoi],
will they not say that ye are mad? 24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned,
he is convinced of all, he is
judged of all: 25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face
he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
the specific purpose of this passage is not to provide a model for how to do
invitation evangelism, but it is to advocate for prophesy given in intelligible
utterance versus speaking in tongues in unintelligible utterance.However, we should not overlook what the
passage teaches us about how evangelism was done in the early church.It assumes the following:(1) the whole church gathered in one place
(i.e., this is not the lone preacher going to stand on the street corner); (2)
the unlearned and unbelievers were invited into these gathered meetings (i.e., these
people came to the church’s gatherings, rather than the church going out to
them); and (3) these unbelievers came under conviction of their sin and were
converted to become worshippers of God as they heard the gospel intelligibly
proclaimed in an explicitly Christian assembly.From this we might surmise that the normative way for the church to do
evangelism is (1) to gather publically to worship, especially on the Lord’s
Day; (2) to invite unbelievers into our assembly; and (3) to preach
intelligibly in hopes that the unconverted in our midst might come under
conviction and be saved.
1.We are to see the ministry of invitation as
one of the ways we might be lawfully and profitably involved in personal
2.We should bring our children to worship to hear
the preaching of the word.This is one
reason we do not need “children’s church.”
should strive to invite and bring our unsaved relatives and acquaintances to
hear the preaching of the word.
CRBC membership covenant we pledge “to seek the
salvation of our kindred and acquaintances.”
4.We can place Bible passages, good Christian
books, and audio recording of Christians sermons and teachings in the path of
non-believers (physically and electronically through email and social media),
but we should not neglect the power of the physical gathering of God’s people.
5.We should not necessarily expect an immediate
result (though God can work miraculously if he so chooses) but we must be patient
and understand that for some God in his sovereignty is concealing the truth
(cf. Luke 18:34:“And they understood
none of these things: and this saying was hidden from them, neither knew they
the things which were spoken.”).Still
we can and should offer, we can invite, and we can pray.