Daily Devotional for Sunday December 28, 2008
How Many Pastors Never Give Those They Preach to an Inviation to Accept Jesus Christ
(Ezekiel 33:8; 2 Corinthians 6:2; James 4:14; John 14:6)
How many pastors NEVER give those they preach to an invitation to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior? Today, I must address what to me is the biggest problem in the church today, since it goes to the root of the church's greatest responsibility and that is to bring the lost to faith in Jesus Christ. I realize the church is to spiritually feed its members, to equip the saints for service, to be a place where Believers can find fellowship with other Believers, and where most followers of Christ serve Him. However, without question the most important job of the church is to reach out to the lost and hurting and to help lead people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of their sins, and God's free gift of everlasting life through faith in His Son!
This is a message that percolated for several years now, and finally reached the boiling point in January of 2006 during the various services held in memory of President Gerald Ford. While those memorial services for President Ford led me to finally bring this word to you, its genesis was in the daily contact I have with thousands and thousands of people all over this nation and around the world, the first hand knowledge I have of tens of thousands of churches, and the spiritual malpractice well over 50% of pastors commit each and every Sunday.
Having started my public ministry in the great city of Chicago in 1992, I studied in great detail the life and ministry of D.L. Moody. One of my great honors early in my ministry was to preach on several occasions to the students at the Moody Bible Institute and preach a mid-week service at the great Moody Memorial Church. One of the events that greatly impacted the life and ministry of Moody was the night of the Chicago fire. It was Sunday night, October 8, 1871, and as Moody finished his sermon, he told the crowd who had gathered to hear him preach to evaluate their relationship with Christ and return next week to make their decisions for Him. That crowd never gathered since during the night the building they were meeting in was consumed by the fire and it would be months before they would find a new place to hold their services.
Moody would never again make the grievous mistake of sending home those who came to hear him preach without giving them an invitation to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The Bible proclaims that TODAY is the day of salvation. The Bible teaches that tomorrow is promised to NONE of us. Moody was haunted by the question, how many people who would have been moved by the Holy Sprit to walk the aisle and give their life to Christ on that infamous October night, never did so and died in their sins, lost for all eternity?
Dwight L. Moody would not even recognize the vast majority of "pastors" today. Men, and now women, who preach a watered down message, using secular books for their references rather than the Bible. "Pastors" who stand in the pulpits of America and refuse to even deal with sin since it might offend people. The ones who make a mockery of Christ by condoning, accepting, and even glorifying gross sins like homosexuality and the slaughter of innocent babies. And what I am certain would break Moody's heart, "pastors" who preach Sunday after Sunday and NEVER give an invitation for those they are preaching to, to accept Jesus as their Savior by faith.
During the first 3 yrs of my public ministry, I preached in over 500 churches all over the nation. All types of denominations, racial and ethnic make-ups, churches with thousands and churches with less than 20. It was during those years I had my first insight into how many churches rarely, if ever gave those who gathered on Sunday an opportunity to accept Jesus as their Savior by faith. Over these past 9+ years of Liveprayer, in dealing with literally tens of thousands of people first hand, thousands upon thousands of churches all over this country and around the world, I would not hesitate to estimate that in well over 50% of churches, those who gather are NEVER given the invitation to ask Jesus into their heart and life by faith and become born again...NEVER!
I remember watching much of the memorial services held at various churches for President Reagan back in June of 2004, and then in January '06, watching all of the various memorial series held for President Ford. I heard one "pastor" after another speaking, waiting for just one, just one, to at least have the guts to tell those listening what Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." There was one who actually did cite that passage, but had the audacity to leave off, "No one comes to the Father except through me," I am sure afraid of offending someone in the audience. How offended will those people be when they die without Jesus and are spending eternity in hell because some gutless "pastor" refused to tell them the Truth?
I gave up hope long ago on seeing even one of these "pastors" with the world watching on these special occasions, actually doing what God has called them to do and sharing the Gospel. Simply telling the people that if you die without Jesus you will be lost for all eternity. My goodness, you have the "pastor" of the largest church in the nation who goes on television often and actually brags that he doesn't talk about sin and refuses to answer the most basic question of the Christian faith which is that faith in Jesus is the ONLY way men can be saved and those who choose to reject Him will be in hell. These men dishonor Christ and the Bible clearly says those who have taken on the mantle of leadership will be held to a much higher standard. God will hold them accountable one day.
This problem in the pastorate has all unfolded over the past 40 years. Most of the mainline denominations began to require their pastors to have a seminary education, but they did not state which seminaries. As the nation began to rebel against all authority in the mid '60s, that included rebelling against God and the Truth of His Word. Liberal seminaries popped up that denied the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. Men no longer needed to be "called" by God, but simply complete the required education. I am convinced there is a percentage, larger than you might think, of "pastors" in this nation who are not even saved!
Once you reject the authority of the Bible, it opened the door to women "pastors," "pastors" who condone sins like homosexually and abortion, "pastors" who quoted secular books as well as books used by the false religions of the world more than the Bible, "pastors" who refuse to deal with sin, and "pastors" who have never given an altar call or led a lost soul to faith in Christ in their life!
You also have "pastors" like Joel Osteen who have never even been to Bible college! It is no wonder he has no grasp of theology. He majored in broadcasting in college and ran his father's television ministry until taking over as "pastor" after his father's death. Being a pastor is not like running the family business. You can't simply wake up one day and decide to be a pastor, though sadly many do. Let me ask you a question. Would you want someone operating on your heart who has never been to medical school, but simply woke up one day and decided they wanted to be a heart surgeon? OF COURSE NOT! Yet people put their eternal souls in the hands of "pastors" every day who have never even taken a Bible college class!
Listen, I am not saying you have to have the alphabet following your name to be qualified to pastor a church. However, if you have truly been called, God will guide you to the formal theological training you need to at least properly preach and teach His Word. There is so much more that goes into it, but you have to have at least a basic theological education from a legitimate Bible school that holds the Bible to be God's inspired inerrant Word, representing Absolute Truth, and our final authority in all matters.
Anyone who answers the call of God to preach His Word has the fundamental responsibility of preaching the Gospel and leading the lost to faith in Jesus Christ. A pastor who ends a service without giving an invitation to accept Christ to those he is preaching to is committing spiritual malpractice, and as one of God's watchmen, God WILL hold them accountable for those who die and spend eternity in hell because they refused to tell them how to be saved!
I love you and care about you so much. I am going to make a very bold statement right now. If you are going to a church where you rarely, or even worse, never, hear your pastor give people the invitation to ask Christ into their hearts and lives, you need to confront your pastor why not. There is NO reason not to. It is his job. In fact, it is probably the most basic and fundamental part of his job. If he did nothing else but that, he would be fulfilling God's calling on his life. You need to hear his explanation for why he refuses to obey God, and then you need do pray if that is really the church God wants you and your family to be part of.
Also, the next time you are in church, look around you. Look at the people around you and ask yourself how many of those people are NOT Believers, who have never given their heart and life to Christ by faith. Ask yourself how many of those people will die and spend eternity in hell for their rejection of Christ. Pray for them to hear the Gospel clearly presented. Pray for them to allow the Holy Sprit to open their heart to God's love for them. Pray for them to surrender their life to Christ by faith and be saved
Lastly, if your pastor is one of these pastors who never gives an invitation at the end of his service, forward this Devotional to him, or her, and pray they come under conviction. I already know I am going to take TONS of heat for this message. That is OK. I have to be obedient to God. I am almost certain you have NEVER heard a message like this before and never will again. People are too afraid to say what needs to be said. I can't stay silent because the eternal souls of men are at stake.
Those God has called and given the honor to preach, can be used by Him to bring many lost souls to faith in Jesus Christ. That won't happen by accident, it won't happen by putting on a great performance, it won't happen by tricking them, and it won't happen because you made them feel good. The only way a person will get saved is if you love them enough to share with them the simplicity of the Gospel They need to admit they are a sinner and need a Savior and that Christ's loves them unconditionally and wants to have an eternal relationship with them.
It is the job of ALL Believers in Christ to share the Gospel with the lost. However, there is NO EXCUSE for any pastor to hold any type of service and not give those who attend the opportunity to ask Christ into their heart and life by faith and be saved!
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller