A CRITIQUE OF BROTHER
AGAINST THE USE OF A PUBLIC INVITATION
I have previously reviewed the publicly displayed Internet
articles against the public invitation written by Darryl Erkel, Fred Zaspel,
and Jim Ehrhard. Now I shall take up the article by Brother Ernest
Reisinger, the primary founder and a board member of the Founders
I have known Brother
Reisinger since I met him at the first Grace Conference in Carlisle,
Pennsylvania in 1965. I keep a photograph of the preachers in attendance at the
Conference on the wall in my office, and both Brother Reisinger and I are in
that photo along with Rolfe Barnard, Al Martin, Walter Chantry, John Thornbury,
George Fletcher, Don Reisinger, John Reisinger, and many more. A large number of
these brethren are now with the Lord. It was during a time when Brother
Reisinger was getting involved with the Banner of Truth in England and its head
man, Iain Murray. As a result, he started Puritan Publications to distribute BT
books in the United States. That company has since become the American branch
office of the Banner of Truth which is now based in Scotland.
personally have the perception that Brother Reisinger came under the influence
of the anti-public invitation views advocated of Pedobaptist Iain Murray,
and is perhaps more responsible for the anti-public invitationalism of those in
the Founders movement than any other. If that is not an accurate assessment,
then perhaps someone can inform me of what person or persons is most
responsible. This "antism" had to begin with someone, and so far
as I can discern Brother Reisinger and Murray are the ones primarily behind
Brother Reisinger has an article on the Founders' website
entitled, On Coming to Christ, Part 2
<http://www.founders.org/FJ22/article2.html>, in which he
offers objections to public invitations.
In studying this
article, however, I was disappointed that I did not discover what "system"
Brother Reisinger approves as being the "scriptural" way of a person's
confession of Christ as Saviour before men. He has a lot of generic
material, but nothing specific on the approved system or the valid method.
I would like to see Brother Reisinger demonstrate where the
Scriptures specify his particular method. If he approves of the
"office system" used by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, then I would like
to know where this system is authorized in Scripture.
It is not
consistent and impartial to reject the public invitation, as it is used by a
sound Gospel preacher, who is not trying to seduce or mislead anyone with
psychological or high pressure tactics, as a means of a repentant, believing
person's openly confessing Christ before men on the grounds that it is "not
found in the Bible," yet fail to show that the system he uses is found in the
The following items, in my judgment, expose the lack
of substance in Brother Reisinger's objections:
Reisinger: Ah! But, when one recognizes a spiritual need, and Christ
is revealed to the heart as the only one who can meet that need, resulting in a
commitment to Christ without reservation, such a one will have (1) something
to confess, (2) a desire to confess Him, and (3) joy in confessing Him. This
truth should help explain why we must not equate walking an aisle with coming
Bob: He here admits that there is a legitimate
"confession" to be made, but he does not present the format
(system) which is legislated in Scripture for that to be done.
so, but he immediately misrepresents the public invitation as if we who
use it "equate walking an aisle with coming to Christ." I personally do
not know a single Baptist preacher who ever affirmed that walking an aisle is
equal to coming to Christ.
But if there is such a one, surely
Brother Reisinger should know that such is not the case with all who use
public invitations. If he does not know that, then he at least knows it now,
for I have used the public invitation and I do not teach that walking an
aisle is equal to coming to Christ. And I did not believe that when I myself
walked the aisle to confess faith in Christ.
By failing to make the invitation clear, preachers have unwittingly instituted a
system, or a condition of salvation which is not only not found in the
Bible, neither was such ever practiced or approved by Christ or his
apostles. Public confession is not a condition of salvation, but a result
Bob: If by "condition" he means that a public
confession is an essential prerequisite in order to be saved, such as
Campbellites teach on baptism, then I know of no Baptist preacher who teaches
that idea of its being a "condition."
However, if he is here denying
that confession is a "condition" closely associated with faith in Christ,
and that it is not a "condition" which manifests or demonstrates the
existence of faith, then he is dead wrong.
Jesus taught that
confession is so related to faith that "Whosoever therefore shall confess
me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But
whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which
is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32, 33.
When a person hears the
Gospel, whether he is in a church meeting, evangelistic meeting, or he is
with a private witness, it is immediately incumbent upon him to both
believe that Gospel in his heart and confess Christ as Saviour
with his mouth. (Romans 10:9, 10).
 Reisinger: The call to come
forward is not a divine command. It is a man-made command. Many times
those who do go forward are led to believe that they did something commendable
to God. Coming forward is not something that God has commanded. I have even
heard people being thanked for coming forward, while those who do not go forward
are falsely supposed to be disobeying God. But God never commanded such a
thing--nor is there any record of it in all the Bible--or in the early
Bob: But confession of Christ IS COMMANDED
(Philippians 2:11; 1 John 4:15). Somewhere, every confessor is to obey
Christ and COME FORWARD before men and make confession of Christ. Does
Brother Reisinger deny that many of his own Founders brethren made their first
confession of Christ on the occasion of a public invitation?
Reisinger: This system produces false assurance. "Now that
I have gone forward I am saved." How many times have I heard this!
I wonder how many times he has heard that! I have NEVER heard that! We
had a man come forward last Sunday, yet he did not say that!
if one could have a false assurance by this system, could not the same type of
person have a false assurance in the "office system" used by Dr. Martyn
Lloyd-Jones? Does the right system insure true assurance? Do you suppose one who
has been baptized may have a false assurance on account of being
baptized? If so, does that mean we should not
: I had a deacon tell me that sinners
would come to Christ if I would choose a different kind of invitation
Bob: I was reading a sermon by Spurgeon only
recently wherein he himself expressed the fact that he prayed that he would
select the right hymn because the words of the hymn might be instrumental
in the salvation of souls. Does Brother Reisinger dispute the fact that
hymns have been used of God in bringing men to Christ? Spurgeon related the
personal testimony of a convert who told Spurgeon that he was converted thru
a certain hymn which Spurgeon had given out.
fourth danger of the invitation system is the unavoidable confusion of
conscience of those who did not go forward when invited to do so by the
preacher. They are often left under the impression that they have rebelled
against God when in truth they have not rebelled at all.
What? Men may sit under the Gospel and when they are urged to believe and
confess it, they are NOT GUILTY OF REBELLION? Surely, Brother Reisinger
let his pen get ahead of his brain on this!
Any time, anywhere, any
place a person hears the Gospel and does not come forth believing and
confessing, he is REBELLING AGAINST GOD! The Gospel is not a mere
commodity you can handle like it is an indifferent matter whether you will have
it or not. It is the MOST SERIOUS sin in the all the world, to hear the
Gospel and not accept it in your heart and confess Christ Saviour! (John
Reisinger: Another error spawned by this system is the
misrepresentation of faith. Faith is represented as something to be done in
order to salvation. I am jealous for "by grace alone," not by some physical
Bob: But faith is not merely "some physical act."
Faith is REQUIRED for salvation, and that is why the Holy Spirit uses
the Word of God to create it. Men are not born again unless they are blessed
by the Word and Spirit to exercise faith. Berkhof's "regeneration" before and
apart from faith begotten by the Spirit will not get the job done!
Does Brother Reisinger like Spurgeon? Then let him hear
Spurgeon rather than Berkhof or
Here let me correct a mistake
into which some people fall. They say, “Do you exhort us to believe?”
I do, indeed, with all my heart. “But, sir, faith is the work of the
Spirit of God.”
Yes, did I ever say that it was not? I insist upon it
continually that, wherever there is any faith, it is wrought in us by the
Spirit of God.
But listen. Did I ever tell you the Spirit of God
believed for us, or did you ever read anything in Scripture approximating to
that statement? No, the Spirit of God leads us to believe, but we
distinctly believe, and it is our faith that saves us; it is not
that the Holy Spirit believes instead of us, and we lie still, like a man under
the surgeon’s knife.
Oh, dear, no! Every faculty is awakened and
aroused by the Spirit of God. We see that Christ can save, and we believe
it. We believe that he will save, and we trust him to save us. It is
our own act and deed, it cannot be anybody else's act and
deed. You cannot believe for another; there can be nothing like
sponsorship here; and the Holy Ghost himself cannot believe for
you. It is not written, “Let the Holy Ghost believe for you;” that would be
absurd; but it is written, “Believe thou,”
“Believe on the Lord
Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
With thine own proper mind
and heart thou must believe in Jesus Christ if thou wouldst be saved. . . .
Come to him now, I beseech you. You who do not know so much about
the plan of salvation, come to Jesus, come and trust him; trust him
>>[Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 39, Year 1893,
Reisinger: Now, to Acts, the sacred manual for
evangelism, where we find the apostles used the same method. . . . the
method of producing disciples is teaching.
Bob: But what
Brother Reisinger fails to do is to show from this manual the
one-and-only "method" which is specifically ordained of God for one who
is taught to confess his faith before men.
I confessed my faith
on the occasion provided by a public invitation. Is my faith in Christ
and my confession of Him INVALID because it was done on that occasion? If so,
then I wonder how many of the Founders brethren are in the same predicament
with me, as many of them also confessed Christ on the occasion of a public
Why, I would not be surprised to learn that Brother
Reisinger, similar to Fred Zaspel, walked an aisle to confess faith in Christ! I
do know that thousands of the "conservative" Southern Baptist preachers
who have been instrumental in the "resurgence" of conservatism in the SBC and
its institutions made confessions of faith in Christ during public invitations.
Does Brother Reisinger dismiss those confessions of faith as mere "physical
acts"? We hope not. -- Bob L. Ross
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