Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Inviting people to church ... or inviting people to Jesus?"

"The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.'  And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price"  (Revelation 22:17).

I love that verse because Jesus Himself invites sinners to come to Him, to drink of the water of life and to find all they need in Him.  I love the fact that God ends His Word with an invitation.  I even love the fact that this invitation is followed by a warning that the prophecies of John's Revelation cannot be ignored or changed without eternal consequences.  The verses immediately following Revelation 22:17 issue this warning:  "If anyone adds to them (the words of this prophecy), God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book" (verses 18-19).  This is serious business!

God's invitation to come to Him through His Son Jesus Christ was sent into the world nearly 2,000 years ago.  In fact, God was inviting people to come to Him even before Jesus came into the world.  With similar words God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, "Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1).  It is God's desire that people would come to Him.  Through the prophet, Ezekiel, God says, "Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?!" (Ezekiel 18:23).

Why didn't more people answer God's invitation?  Why did even the Jews fail to respond to God's call to come to Him, to draw near and find LIFE - the very purpose for our existence ... to glorify the God who created us?!  The answer is simple:  Dead people cannot respond!  Jesus said to Nicodemus, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. ... I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit" (John 3:3,5-6).  No one can or will respond to God's invitation UNLESS the Spirit of God grants to them the gift of faith!  The new birth is GOD's work:  "To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God" (John 1:12-13).

The EVIDENCE of regeneration, of being born again, is a true, heartfelt response to God's invitation to come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ!  "The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).  What a comforting and encouraging truth to know that when you respond in faith to God's invitation it is because He Himself has moved your heart by making you a new creation in Christ Jesus!  Paul wrote to the Philippians of his confidence in their spiritual growth:  "... being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).

Knowing that God is sovereign in the process of salvation not only comforts those who believe, but also motivates us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with ALL people, for the Gospel is God's instrument to offer His invitation.  The Gospel first convicts men of their sin and of their need for forgiveness, and then leads them to the Living Water, to Jesus Christ, that they may be born again of THIS water and by the very Spirit of God.  Some have mistakenly thought that being "born of water and the Spirit" refers to baptism, but the rest of Scripture makes it clear that no religious ritual or ordinance can impart a new mind, heart and will.  These are but signs pointing to the reality.  God performs the work - in His time and in His way, just as He has said in His Word.

So back to Revelation 22:17:  "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.'  And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price."  The Spirit calls and empowers the Bride, the Church, to join God in bringing HIS invitation to those who have not yet responded.  It is the responsibility of those who know Jesus Christ, who confess Him as their Savior and Lord, to invite others to come to Christ to "drink" and be satisfied.  All who have drunk at this well have found their souls satisfied beyond what anything in this world can offer!  We cannot be quiet, for we see people dying of spiritual thirst and we long to serve them the Living Water found in Jesus Christ.  We know that "faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17).

Do you know people who are dying of spiritual thirst?  Are YOU one of them?  Before you can invite someone to Christ you must know Him yourself.  You must know the cool, refreshing taste of His love and grace that brings forgiveness and peace and hope and joy to your heart!  It is not enough to invite people to church.  That's a good thing - if the message of the Gospel is proclaimed there.  But how wonderful if they could hear that message from you and SEE that message in YOUR life!  The church SHOULD be a gathering of those who have experienced the life-giving power of the Spirit of God and who thus have a desire that all would come to Christ.

Remember, the Spirit AND the Bride say, "Come!" Have you tasted of this water for yourself?  Have you responded to God's invitation to come and drink and eat?  Is Jesus the "pearl of great price" to you?  Do you LOVE Him, because He FIRST loved you?  If not, perhaps at this moment you need to do some business with God.  He has moved you to read these words and to hear His offer.  Do you hear His voice, saying, "Come to Me.  Stop searching for what you will never find in the things of this world - whether material possessions or relationships or experiences or pleasure ... STOP!  Come to Me and you will find rest for your soul.  I will never leave you ... I will never abandon you.  I will be with you throughout this life and will provide all you need to live for My glory, for that is the very reason I created you.  COME!"

You can KNOW today that you are one of His children ... that you have been born again by His Spirit.  Pray and confess Jesus as the eternal Son of God who suffered God's wrath against YOUR sin and who died and rose again ... who is now alive and seated at the right hand of the Father.  Confess Him as YOUR Lord and surrender your life to Him, desiring now to be an ambassador of His kingdom as you live in this world for His glory.  Then, setting your heart and mind on loving Jesus and serving Him, you can continue the transformation process as you seek Him through His Word, prayer and fellowship with other believers.  A new life lies before you ... if you come to Him!

And for you who know Christ, who have been born again by His Spirit and who love Him and desire to serve Him, to you now the Father entrusts the task to be His instruments to invite others.  Invite them to church - to gather with God's people ... but don't stop there.  Invite them to dine at the table of God's grace - to come to Christ.  God will cleanse them from the guilt of sin and deliver them from the power of sin and will satisfy their longing spirits with the gift of LIFE!

John writes, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life (John 1:1).  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.  We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.  And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ" (I John 1:1-3).

The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come!"  COME!  And have fellowship with us!!  THIS is true, biblical, spiritual fellowship.  Pray for those who have not yet tasted of the cool, refreshing water of the Spirit by placing their faith in Jesus.  Rejoice in His love and grace to you and then INVITE others to COME to the water of life, the Living Water, the Savior of the world ... to JESUS!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment