We end our assemblies with a brief talk which we call an “invitation.” We never want to miss an opportunity to encourage people to receive the free gift of salvation while they are still living and breathing, before it is eternally too late.
It is accurate to describe this effort as the Lord’s “invitation.” The Bible itself speaks of the gospel in terms of an invitation. Jesus’ parable of the dinner describes a man who “invited many” to a lavish banquet, saying, “Come, for everything is ready now” (Luke 14:16-17). The book of Revelation ends with an invitation, “Let the one who is thirsty come” (Rev. 22:17).
But here’s the thing about invitations—people often feel comfortable refusing them. Perhaps there is a scheduling conflict, or a lack of interest, and one sends back the RSVP card with the box checked, “Sorry, I cannot come.” Even in Jesus’ parable, three invitees offered apologies and said, “please consider me excused.”
Jesus Christ is never going to force Himself on a person. He offers the free gift of salvation (Eph. 2:8-9). He earnestly beckons and calls through His word (2 Thess. 2:14). “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). But He puts no one in a gospel headlock.
Jesus mourns when people “resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51). “You are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:40). “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37).
But there is another aspect of the Lord’s invitation to receive salvation which we should also appreciate—it’s not just an invitation, it’s an obligation!
God not only invites us to be saved, He also commands us to be saved. Jesus speaks as the gentle Lamb of God, the meek and humble Savior, but He also speaks as the head of all things unto the church, the creator and sovereign King.
Here is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among me by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12).
God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed (Acts 17:30-31).
Be saved from this perverse generation! (Acts 2:40).
God commands us to recognize and submit to the authority of King Jesus. God commands us to obey His word and enter the joys of His kingdom. Furthermore, God promises punishment against those who refuse to obey.
He who believes in the Son has eternal life but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him (John 3:36).
Only the patience of God prevents Him from pouring out immediate judgment upon those who refuse His commandments.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance … Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation… (2 Peter 3:9, 15).
But a day is quickly approaching when God’s patience will run out, and judgment will be upon those who do not respond to the Lord’s invitation (or, I should say, the Lord’s obligation).
…dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power… (2 Thess. 1:8-10).
The longer we refuse to confess the name of Jesus and live in His kingdom, the longer we miss out on bountiful blessings that He offers to provide. But, at the same time, we stand in disobedience and opposition to His commandments. Those who are disobedient will not enter His rest (Heb. 3:18). Let us resist His authority no longer, and receive the forgiveness of our sins! —John Guzzetta