Chapter 3 of R. Alan Streett's "The Effective Invitation: A Practical Guide For The Pastor" is called "The Public Invitation--Is It Biblical?" Streett points out that the early Church, when it evangelized, always issued an invitation to repent and believe. But this was not all; the Church's invitation also exhorted new converts to witness to their new found faith through the public act of baptism. Streett provides a biblical case that to be in right relationship with God one must acknowledge in public their alligience to God. After Adam and Eve sinned, in order that God could clothe them in animal skins indicating their righteousness through blood sacrifice, Adam and Eve had to come out of hiding. When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai and discovered that Israel had made and worshipped the Golden Calf, he stood in the entrance of the camp and said, "Who is on the Lord's side?" All the sons of Levi then gathered themselves around Moses (Ex. 32: 26). In Joshua 24, Joshua declared, "...choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Josh. 24:15) The people responded that they would serve the Lord. Joshua wrote their words in the Law of God and memoralized the event by setting a large stone under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. This stone was to be a witness against the people if they denied God (Josh. 24: 26-27). When Elijah proved that the Lord is God, the people publicly proclaimed that the Lord is God and obeyed Elijah by executing all the prophets of Baal. The people obeyed despite the fact that Jezebel was a Baal worshiper (1Kings 18). According to Streett, the greatest Old Testament example is the public repentance of Nineveh in response to Jonah's preaching. New Testament examples include the public responses to Jesus by Zacchaeus, the woman with the blood disease, the sinner's confession in Jesus' parable of the publican and the sinner and the Philippian jailor in Acts 16. The Great Commision includes the public act of Baptism.
Streett points to the gift of exhortation (Rom. 12:8) as evidence of scriptural support for giving a public invitation. The word "exhort" comes from the Greek word "parakaleo." "Para" means to the side; "kaleo" means to call. This word, meaning to call to one's side, to call for, to summon, appears 108 times in the New Testament. Rom. 10: 9 states, "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." The word confess comes from the Greek word "homologeo," meaning to say the same thing, agree with, assent to a thing. In relation to salvation, the mouth confesses what God's Word says about the subject. It is presupposed that the truth has already been embraced by the heart. As we confess to the Lordship of Christ (Mt. 10: 32-33, Mk. 8:38), Jesus Christ, the High Priest of our profession (homologeo, Heb. 3:1) confesses to the Father that we are indeed beleivers.
Chapters 4 and 5 will be considered together.
All scripture quotations from the NKJV.