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By Dr. Don Bierle, FaithSearch President
My INVITATION: “I invite you to become a follower of Jesus”
Several years ago a friend shared an experience which revealed the importance of this fourth step of “A 3:15 Response” [featured in the past three issues of the Paraclete]. He was trying to help an unbeliever come to faith in Jesus. Over time he had told his own story of faith; explained the Christian worldview and the reasons it is true; all of this, but without a response from his friend.
Then he brought the unbeliever to one of my FaithSearch Discovery presentations. I always give an invitation to follow Jesus in faith at the end. His unbelieving friend joined in a prayer of repentance and affirmation of faith. My friend asked him why he hadn’t done it before. His friend’s response was, “I don’t recall that you ever asked me.”
Jesus expressed a simple invitation to Philip, “Follow Me” (John 1:43). In fact, He was very comfortable with invitations, such as, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Like Jesus, our invites should be confident, sincere, and meaningful. Depending on the circumstances we might ask: “Do you desire the assurance of eternal life in heaven?”; or “May I lead you in a prayer of repentance and commitment to follow Jesus?”; or “Will you join me as a follower of Jesus?”; or “Is there any reason you can think of why you wouldn’t want to ask Jesus to forgive you and accept Him as your Savior?”
The motivation for your invitation is one of the most important factors. You can feel the passion and sincerity of Jesus for His people when He said, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matthew 23:37). The unbeliever can easily detect whether you love them and care deeply for their temporal and eternal welfare, as opposed to someone wanting to score “religious points” in order to look good before other believers. One way to assure the right countenance for your invitation is that it be grounded in persistent prayer for them.
Other factors in your invitation include the recognition that only the Holy Spirit can do the miracle of conviction in the unbeliever’s heart (John 16:7-11). Do your part, then relax and yield that responsibility to God’s Spirit.
Finally, if you are still reluctant to invite someone to make a faith commitment, check your conviction about the destiny of the lost (Matthew 25:46; Mark 8:36; John 3:36; Acts 4:12). Do you REALLY believe that unbelievers are separated from God forever in eternal darkness? When you do, your invitation will be infused with passion, and with tears, and with urgency!
Pray; tell your STORY; establish your WORLDVIEW about God, Jesus and the Bible; give the REASONS which result in confidence that it is all true; and be ready with your INVITATION.
That’s a “3:15 Response” which fulfills the heart of Jesus.