In Defense Of The Public Invitation

Below are notes to a sermon preached Sunday evening, Oct. 7, 2001, at Gospel Light Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia. For more outlines, including a zipped file of all of my 1999 and 2000 sermon outlines, click on the link at the bottom of this note, and go to our website:


Scripture Reading: Luke 8:43-48

Text: Luke 8:45

Luke 8:45 And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?

Introduction: Since our church started in May, 1986, we have concluded each service on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, as well as all special services such as revivals and Bible conferences, with a public invitation. Some people call it the “altar call.” Billy Sunday was known for calling it, “hitting the sawdust trail.” Over these years, we have ALWAYS had people to respond at the invitation, with EVERY service ending with people on their knees before our Lord.

Occasionally someone will object to the use of the invitation. I have never heard this objection from anyone at our church, but I have heard it and read it from others.

I understand that we do not have a clear-cut example of an altar call at the close of a service in the Bible. However, there is little in the Bible that prescribes exactly how a church service should take place. There is also nothing in the Bible about nurseries, air conditioning, public address systems, testimony services, and the like.

On the Internet, the only objections I read about the public invitation were written by Five-Point Calvinists, men and churches who are NOT evangelistic, and who do not have a burden for the lost.

Tonight I want to give you a few reasons for our maintaining a public invitation in our services.

We always have a public invitation after preaching because of:


I realize that I preached an entire message on this subject this morning, so I will be brief in my opening remarks. Let me remind you that after God spoke to Job, He demanded that the man respond to Him:

Job 38:3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

God’s message calls for action! People walk the aisle after hearing the word of God for a number of reasons:

A. Conversion

  • They don’t get saved by walking the aisle, but many get saved by walking the aisle and getting the answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

B. Confession

  • Those who have trusted Christ, whether in their homes the week before, or in a previous service, should be encouraged to publicly confess their new Lord.
  • Romans 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

C. Commitment

  • 1. To baptism
  • 2. To church membership

D. Cleansing

  • Confession of sin – 1 Jn. 1:9

E. Consecration

  • Public rededication

F. A companion

  • Weddings

We always have a public invitation after preaching because:


Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Exodus 32:26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

Elijah – “How long halt ye between two opinions?”

A. To submit to GOD’S righteousness

  • Romans 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

B. To serve the Lord

  • Baptism
  • Church membership
  • Jobs in church

C. To step out by faith

We always have a public invitation after preaching because:


2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

We BESEECH lost people:

A. To recognize their lost condition

B. To repent of their dead works

C. To receive the message of God’s salvation, the gospel

  • 1 Corinthians15:1-4

D. To run to Christ for salvation today!

  • 2 Corinthians 6:2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation)

We always have a public invitation after preaching because of:


Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

I saw a tract many years ago which had on its front these words: “What To Do To Go To Hell?” When you opened it, the inside pages were blank! On the back it said, “Surprised?” Then it explained that a person didn’t have to do ANYTHING to go to hell, for he is already HEADED there!

John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

A. People are sinful and depraved now!

  • They do not belong in heaven!
  • They are not qualified for heaven!

B. People are sentenced to hell already!

  • John 3:18

C. People are a step away from eternity!

  • 1 Samuel 20:3 And David sware moreover, and said, Thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thine eyes; and he saith, Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved: but truly as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death.

Acts 24:25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

Acts 26:28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

Read story, “The Evangelist’s Mistake.”

Few incidents connected with hymns are so tragic as the following, which occurred when Mr. Moody was first beginning his work as an evangelist in Chicago. Mr. Moody ahd been preaching on Bible Characters, and decided to devote the sermons for six successive Sunday nights on the Life of Christ.

On the first Sunday night, October 8, 1871, he preached to the largest congregation he had ever addressed in Chicago on the Trial before Pilate, and having put the claims of Christ before them with intense earnestness, the text being the words, “What shall I do with Jesus which is called Christ?” (Matt. 27:22), he concluded: “I wish you would take this text home with you, and turn it over in your minds during the week, and next Sabbath we will come to Calvary and the Cross, and we will decide what to do with Jesus of Nazareth!”

Speaking of this in after-years, Mr. Moody called it one of the greatest mistakes of his life.

“For,” he said, “I have never seen that congregation again!”

Having concluded his sermon, he called on Mr. Sankey to sing “To-day the Saviour calls.” Almost prophetically the third verse rang out:
To-day the Saviour calls;
For refuge fly;
The storm of justice falls,
And death is nigh.

It was the last verse ever sung in that fine hall. For, even as he sang, the singer’s voice was drowned by the clang of fire-bells and the rushing of fire-engines in the street. It was the night of the great Fire of Chicago, in which Moody’s hall was laid in ashes, and in which it is estimated that over a thousand people perished, some of whom were probably among the evangelist’s hearers that evening.

Moody could hardly speak of that night in later years without tears.

“There is one lesson,” he used to say, “I learned that night which I have never forgotten, and that is, when I preach, to press Christ upon the people then and there, and try to bring them to a decision on the spot. I would rather have this right hand cut off than give an audience now a week to decide what to do with Jesus!”

Great Hymns and Their Stories, W.J. Limmer Sheppard, 1979, Christian Literature Crusade, Fort Washington, PA, pp. 162-164.

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