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Is it a Sin for a Preacher to Preach Without Giving an Invitation?Click To Download

It is a horrible tragedy that unsaved people go to church every Sunday, and they are never given a chance to get saved. What a sin it is for any preacher to not make every effort to win the people who come to hear him preach.

God said, "When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. (Ezek. 3:18-19).

It is not enough to preach and then tell people to "mark a box on a card" or "go home and think about it." No preacher in the New Testament ever did that. Paul preached for a decision - a decision on the spot. The Biblical imperative is to get saved now - not some other time.

" . . . behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor. 6:2)

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)

When is God's time for a person to get saved? It's now. It's never later. It's always now.

The Invitation is a way to bring people to a point of decision - on the spot - now - when you are preaching. The mechanics of the invitation may differ from time to time. Regardless of the mechanics, if you are not bringing the lost to a point of decision in your preaching, you are not obeying the Bible.

It is false doctrine and very dangerous to preach and think that people will get saved later, supposedly "in God's time." Later is not God's time. God's time is always now. The invitation gives people a chance to get saved now. The preacher who is doing God's work will always give the lost people in his audience the exhortation to get saved immediately.

Some people will argue that the invitation did not come about until the days of Finney. That is only a half truth. Throughout history, the preachers who were doing God's work always invited lost people to come to Christ on the spot. Asking people to come forward in a service may have become a popular method during Finney's era. However, the calling people to come to Christ has always been a hallmark of preachers doing God's work. The invitation to walk forward is not the issue. The invitation to come to Christ immediately is the issue.   It is false doctrine and very dangerous to preach and think that people will get saved later, supposedly "in God's time."

When John the Baptist came, he didn't perform a "worship service." He preached and demanded repentance. On the spot. Critics of evangelism will say, "But he didn't ask people to come forward." That's not the issue. Whether he asked them to step forward or not (and he may have - we don't have the complete text of every word he said)--he demanded immediate repentance. That is exactly what the Gospel preacher is doing when he gives an invitation as part of his sermon. 

If we expect people to get saved, then the preacher is going to have to obey God and preach for an immediate decision when there are lost people present in the service. To do that, he is going to have to give some kind of invitation. 

The sin of worthless worship

"But we don't do that in our worship service," someone objects. God said worship without obedience is worthless. It is a sin for a preacher to preach to lost people and not demand immediate repentance. What an affront to God to think that we can worship Him and disobey Him at the same time. In church, nonetheless! 

Preacher, remember the solemn words of Samuel to Saul, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice." (1 Sam. 15.22)


Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:


Joshua 24:15-16 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;


1Kings 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.


Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Do you mean Peter wanted to baptize them immediately, too? Do you really think that's Scriptural? Let's see what happened--

He didn't stop with just telling them to get saved. He went on trying to persuade them to get saved right then and there.

Acts 2:40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

Preacher, do you do that when there are lost people in your service? Why not? Don't you want to follow the Scriptures and do everything you can to win the lost?

I used to know a preacher who got saved on the 19th verse of "Just As I Am." Isn't that the modern day equivalent of Acts 2:40?

Perhaps the evangelism critics will take issue with a 19-stanza altar call. Serious believers, on the other hand, will rejoice with the angels of Heaven that a lost sinner was saved (Luke 15:10).

Not only did Peter demand instant repentance, but he also demanded instant baptism. Now that's a novel idea. Yes, it's novel because most churches don't follow this New Testament practice. They make people wait before they allow them to obey God in baptism. What did Peter do?

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

And some preachers think they can improve on God's methods by making people wait before they allow them to obey God in baptism. 

Preacher, do you tell your new converts to wait 6-12 months or more before they can start reading the Bible, going to church or tithing? Then why do you tell them to wait before they should obey God by getting baptized?

Oh, you have your reasons now for telling people not to obey God, and they sound pretty good to you. If God were to ask you, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, why you told your new converts to disobey Him for a while, what would you tell Him?


Acts 26:28-29 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.

Read the ministry of Paul in the Book of Acts. Read about Lydia, the seller of purple and the Philippian Jailer. Paul always demanded instant repentance of his unsaved hearers. He didn't have them singing "Just As I Am" or "Almost Persuaded," and he didn't ask them to walk down a church aisle. But he did preach for results. He preached to get them saved on the spot, and multitudes of people did get saved on the spot. That is nothing less than an invitation to get saved.

You don't have to turn the Sunday morning worship service into an evangelistic rally every week to get souls saved in your services. You can make a quick run to Calvary from any verse in the Bible. You are responsible to God for doing it whenever there are visitors present (unless you know them, and you know they are saved). We've seen a lot of people get saved in  just about every kind of sermon - even sermons on tithing.

I remember being in a Baptist camp meeting in Michigan one time when a lady got so much under conviction that she came forward to get saved during the offering! The preacher sensed that the Holy Spirit was moving in a very unusual way during the service, so he invited other people to come forward and get saved. A total of 6 or 7 people got saved during the offering that day. How did they know about getting saved before the preaching started? Because they had come before, and that was enough to make them know that they needed to get saved.

The man of God must preach for results - the salvation of souls and the mobilization of God's people.

Remember Paul's admonition to Pastor Timothy -

"Do the work of an evangelist." (2 Timothy 4:5)


Give People a Chance to Respond
by C. Sumner Wemp

  The president of a large sales company said to the pastor as he was walking out of the service, "I would hire you in a minute. You made your product, salvation, attractive, you told how to get it, but above all you gave us a chance to sign on the dotted line, you gave an invitation."

  We must preach for a decision. We should demand a verdict. We have to give an invitation for we know if the devil has one minute he will snatch away the seed that was sown in the heart of everyone who hears you (Matthew 13:19).

  The world and the church has so stereotyped invitations that many are afraid of invitations. This ought not to be. An invitation does not have to include" coming down the aisle" or "coming forward." The invitation should be to "receive the Lord Jesus as your Savior" (John 1:12).

  The simple and effective way to do this is to have everyone bow their heads at the conclusion of the message. Invite anyone not sure they are going to heaven, and now understand that the Lord Jesus suffered and died on the cross for their sins and who want to receive Him, to pray right then and invite the Lord Jesus to come into their heart and save them. So you will know who did and can follow-up, get them to look up at you and catch your eye so you will know who received Him.

  Years ago, I did this in a church in the Chicago area. Eight years later I was back in Chicago and preached one Sunday. After the service, a lady came to me and said, "Eight years ago you preached in a church an hour from here. I had to come tell you what happened to me. You asked us to pray in our heart to receive the Lord Jesus. I did that and looked up at you. I was not use to a church giving invitations and did not confess Christ that day. I was truly saved and my life was changed. For years I have wanted to thank you and let you know how God saved me that day." Well Glory! That is what it is all about. Don't let the devil talk you out of trying to get folks saved at every occasion.

  At my father's funeral I preached and gave an invitation like that and over 30 people prayed and looked up at me indicating they had received the Lord Jesus that day. A funeral is a vital place to give an invitation and then follow-up on those who look up at you.

  At wedding rehearsals I have seen as many as three people to receive the lord Jesus. At many banquets, socials, events of all kinds, I have done this and seen many respond. Not once have I had a back lash from doing this. If you are gracious and let them know you will not embarrass them or point them out and do not betray their confidence, people will not object or get mad.

  As I was looking at some new cars, a salesman approached me and began his sales pitch. When he finished I said, "I have a better deal than that to offer you." Rather surprised he said, "What's that?"

  Graciously I told him I wanted to offer him a trip to heaven and the good thing about it was the enormous price had already been paid in full. Carefully I gave him the gospel and said he could invite the Lord Jesus into his heart right then. It was obvious he was listening intently. In a few minutes I asked if he wanted to pray to receive the Lord Jesus. He said, "I already have." As usual my response was tell me about it. He said, "While you were talking to me I was so convicted, I knew I had to do it right then and I did!" He gave every evidence he understood it and was saved. Give people a chance to sign on the dotted line.