In this eighth installment of my series on “A Baptist New Mexican,” I explore the sixth spiritual characteristic: he or she invites people to follow Jesus, recruiting them into God’s Kingdom. In past columns I have explained how each characteristic builds upon those that come before it. Though not absolute, they do tend to follow a sequence or order, stacking one upon another.
In the last issue, I described how one of the things a Baptist New Mexican does is share the Gospel. It was part of the larger activity of sharing truths from God’s Word. That sharing reached beyond repeating a learned presentation. It meant explaining the Gospel so it makes sense to someone else. After doing that, inviting someone to follow Jesus – recruiting them into God’s Kingdom – makes sense.
Having already explained the Gospel, how does a Baptist New Mexican invite someone to follow Jesus? It is as easy as inviting a friend to the rock climbing gym or inviting a fried to have lunch with you. Most people regularly extend a variety of invitations to others.
As a Christian grows into a Baptist New Mexican, he or she becomes a spiritual invitor, a host or sponsor of a new believer – a spiritual guide. His or her spiritual invitations solicit responses, clarify confusion and anticipate salvations. Real, heart-felt, spirit-stirred invitations are exciting and powerful moments for both invitors and invitees. That happened to an invitor named Vince and a lost person named Kevin Parker.
Invitations solicit spiritual action. Invitations do more than suggest, they solicit spiritual action from hearers. Invitors distinguish between explanations, suggestions and invitations. They want people to experience more than knowing what they should do. An explanation tells facts, describes their meaning and highlights their significance. Suggestions and applications describe how a person should use biblical truth. Gospel presentations include a description of a response, but that description is not an invitation. Invitors go one step further. They solicit a response from a person. They ask for an action, for a decision. Anything short of that is not an invitation. It remains merely a suggestion. Invitors solicit spiritual action.
Invitations dispel spiritual confusion. When explaining a response to the Gospel, a Christian may say, “To receive eternal life, you must believe in Jesus, trust that He died to pay for your sins and will forgive them, repent of your sins and desire to obey His instructions and commands.” Invitors eliminate the nagging question that follows, “What do I do now?” Despite clear explanations, lost people – just like those in the Bible – need to know the next step. They need a guide.
Invitors answer that question by leading people to action. Invitors guide people to actually believe, trust, repent and obey. They are those guides. When lost people want to take spiritual steps that they cannot understand, invitors dispel spiritual confusion. They say, “If you want to be saved, do this, right now. Are you ready? I’ll help you. Will you follow Jesus?”
Invitations anticipate salvation. Invitors extend Gospel invitations with expectation. They believe God’s Word is living and active. They believe God’s Spirit convicts. They believe Jesus is drawing all men to Himself. Their invitation puts their own belief into practice, just like their invitation calls on lost people to believe and take action. Invitors draw confidence from God’s truth, not from themselves, their experience or their training. All of those things help, but they know God wants to save people. No matter what happens, they know God’s Word was active; His spirit convicted; and His Son drew that lost person. They anticipate salvation because of God, His story and His promises. Those things allow invitors to be patient and silently wait for an answer - with expectancy.
Invitors feel urgency. Lostness troubles invitors. They know where it leads. As a result, urgency drives them to tell the Gospel, explain it and invite people to respond. Because God put urgency in their heart, the goal of their Gospel presentation is the invitation. They do not go out just to tell the Gospel. Instead, they go out to invite people to follow Jesus. Telling the Gospel is how they get there. They want to invite people to become like them: saved sinners following Jesus to Heaven.
So, as Baptist New Mexican’s grow in their faith, they grow into this characteristic. They become invitors. They solicit spiritual action from lost people. They dispel spiritual confusion. They anticipate salvations. They feel urgency. They go out inviting people to follow Jesus. The Gospel gets them there.
Note: This series was written for The Baptist New Mexican the news journal of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. It's ten descriptions apply to any Baptist Christian, not just Baptists from New Mexico. This is article 8 in the series.
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Crossing the Lines
The ideas behind this blog emerged from my study and preaching of a message I titled "A Single Step." It was an unexpected message out of Philippians 2:12-18. I'm the one who was surprised. I had a whole different idea of where the sermon would go. Then, I got into the text and followed it. That led, eventually, to the response by individuals after the message. God worked in me and in our congregation. He's still at work.
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