The Great Invitation
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus Christ issued an invitation that is open today—the greatest invitation ever offered, because man’s response to it affects his soul’s eternal destiny:
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. This invitation is restated in Revelation 22:17 with different words depicting the same meaning:
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And he that heareth, let him say, Come. And he that is athirst, let him come: he that will, let him take the water of life freely.
How could any man reject the invitation of Christ and the promises He offers to those who will come to Him in complete obedience to his will? Yet myriads, the vast majority of the world’s population, continually reject this great invitation. Perhaps you are among those who have continually rejected this invitation of Christ. If so, this study is designed to persuade you to accept the greatest invitation ever offered to man and to enjoy the sweetest and most precious promises ever given, the sure promises of God through Jesus Christ His only begotten Son.
To whom is the invitation of Christ extended? First, it is extended to the morally good person. You see, morality alone will not save. Therefore, the moral person must still accept Christ’s invitation and obey his will in order to be saved eternally. Cornelius is an example of a morally good man who still needed to hear the gospel of Christ in order to be saved. The angel of the Lord appeared to this good man and instructed him:
now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. Notice that Simon Peter was to tell Cornelius what he was to do. We learn from Acts 11:14 that the angel, specifically, according to Peter’s statement, had told Cornelius that Peter would tell him words
whereby thou shalt be saved, thou and all thy house. That makes it clear it was necessary this morally good man hear the gospel in order to be saved.
Notice what these words of salvation included: Acts 10:47-48, tells us that Peter said,
Can any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized...? Then, verse 48 reveals,
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Cornelius was a morally good man, but he still had to accept the Lord’s invitation and answer his call through the gospel, which told him to believe in Christ as God’s only begotten Son, to repent of his sins, to confess Christ, and to be baptized for the remission of his sins. All who accept Christ’s invitation today must do so in the same way in order to be added to the Lord’s church, or kingdom, and to be saved from their sins.
Again, the great invitation of Christ is given to those who are religious, but religiously wrong. Lydia, the seller of purple in Thyatira, is a perfect example. Acts 16:14-15, tells us,
And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira, one that worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened to give heed unto the things which were spoken by Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. Notice again, here was a woman
“who worshipped God. Yet, she was religiously wrong and had to accept the Lord’s invitation given through Paul to believe, to repent, to confess, and to be baptized into Christ. It is possible to be very religious, but very wrong in the religion we are practicing.
Acts 18:8 also furnishes us an example of a man named Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, who had to obey the gospel of Christ in order to be saved. The verse says,
And Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
This very religious man was religiously wrong and had to be converted to that which was right. Actually, Cornelius, whom we examined as a morally good man, would also be an example of a highly religious man who still had to heed the invitation of the gospel.
The invitation of Christ is given also to those in high positions. Acts 8 tells us of the Ethiopian eunuch, a man described as having great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. The Scripture tells us he had charge of all her treasure. Here was a man who very well might have been completely disinterested in religious matters, but he was also a religious man, having been to Jerusalem to worship. But when Philip preached Christ to this man of great authority, he stopped the chariot at a certain point and said to Philip,
See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
This is a marvelous example of what it means to accept the great invitation of Christ. It is a clear example of conversion to Christ, which must be emulated by every person who would desire forgiveness of his sins and the hope of eternal life. Sometimes those in high positions are blinded to the simple but eternal truth of God’s word. Here was a man whose eyes could see the true value of spiritual things above the material.
But, notice again, the great invitation of Christ is even extended to murderers. On the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ, the great invitation was extended by the apostles to those who had been guilty of murdering the only begotten Son of God himself! Acts 2:22-23 reads:
Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, even as ye yourselves know; him, being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay.
Those who were present on Pentecost when the invitation of Christ was first extended were guilty of crucifying Jesus, and when they cried out in conviction of their evil deed, saying,
Men and brethren, what shall we do? they were told clearly what they must do to be saved. Peter, in verse 38, responded,
Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. These people, who obviously already believed in Christ, having heard the preaching of the apostles, then were told to repent and to be baptized for the remission of their sins. In so doing, some 3,000 that day were added to the Lord’s church, as the kingdom of God was ushered into existence with the preaching of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Finally, the great invitation is given even to persecutors. A most impassioned persecutor of the church, Saul of Tarsus, was met by the Lord himself on the Damascus road, in order to qualify Saul as an apostle to the Gentiles. This man, Saul, had been guilty of breathing out threatenings and slaughter against Christians everywhere. Then, on that occasion, Jesus appeared to Saul and told him to go into the city and there it would be told him what he must do to be saved. The Lord’s appearance did not save him. That appearance was to equip him to be an apostle after his conversion, because one of the qualifications of an apostle was that he had seen the risen Lord. But Saul’s conversion came about in Damascus, when he obeyed the instructions of the Lord which were given through the preacher Ananias, and the instructions were as follows:
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16, KJV). Saul did what he had been commanded to do and became a Christian as a result. From that day forward, this great man of God, who became known as Paul, spent his remaining life in consecrated service to his Master, preaching the gospel and extending the great invitation of Christ to those of his day. His writings, inspired by God and preserved by God’s providence, still speak to us today and guide us in the paths which God would have us follow.
Christ’s invitation is great in that it is extended to all who will come by the way clearly set forth in God’s word: Hear, believe, repent, confess and be baptized.
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