Friday, December 31, 2010

"The Effective Invitation" by R. Alan Streett. Chapter 2

Chapter 2 of R. Alan Street's "The Effective Invitation: A Practical Guide for the Pastor" is entitled "The Theological Content of the Invitation." Street warns us that we cannot preach the Gospel without issuing an invitation to our hearers to respond.  The aim of 1st century preaching was the conversion of the lost.  The invitation is the act of the preacher in exhorting and instructing hearers in appropriating the content of the message (kerygma) in their individual lives.  Streett quotes Roy J. Fish concerning the nature of the Gospel: " is obvious that it represents an offer.  God makes man a concrete offer of forgiveness of sin on the basis of the saving acts of his Son.  Such an offer demands a decision."  Streett is critical of the practices of substituting a trip to the altar or the raising of hands for the inclusion of the theological content of the invitation.  Scriptural models of the invitation all contain theological content.  In Mk. 1:14-15, Jesus preached the Kingdom of God which is entered through repentance and faith. (see also Acts 3: 12-26, 20: 20-21)  Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin, says Streett, but the preacher must clearly define the terms for his listeners.  Repentance must be preached first in the Gospel invitation (Acts 20:21, Heb. 6:1).  The Greek verb matanoeo is translated in English as repent.  It means a change of mind toward someone or something. It denotes a rational rather than an emotional response.  Repentance is not the message of the Gospel, but the intitial response, and its origin is with God, not man.  (Ps. 80:19, Jn. 6:44, Acts 5:30-31, Rom 2:24, 2Tim 2:24-25) Faith is the second component of the invitation. The Greek verb pisteuo is translated as believe, commit, trust.  It means to rely one someone or something.  The noun pistis is translated as faith and the object of this faith is the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Faith is a gift of God (Phil 1:29, 2Pet 1:1, Heb. 12:2, Rom. 10:17), it is more than mental assent (James 2:14) and does not focus on the visible world (2Cor. 5:7, Jn. 20:29, Ge. 12:3, 15:6 and Rom. 4:19-25).

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