“Come and See”

Philip and Nathanael

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see’” (John 1:45-46).

In the first chapter of John, the apostle introduced his readers to Jesus. As this chapter unfolded, we read of others being introduced to Him as well. After Jesus called Philip (John 1:43), Philip told Nathanael that they had found the one who was the fulfillment of the prophecies contained in the Law and the Prophets. At first Nathanael was skeptical, so Philip offered a simple invitation: “Come and see.” Nathanael came and saw which led him to believe in Jesus (John 1:49).

In this article, we are going to consider this “come and see” type of invitation and how we might be able to use it to help reach others with the gospel.

The Effectiveness of Invitations

Many people wonder what they can do to help reach others with the gospel. They may feel uncomfortable or ill-equipped to teach others. If this is the case for us, we should work to overcome this feeling so that we will be able to fulfill our responsibilities to be “ready to make a defense to everyone” (1 Peter 3:15). However, regardless of whether we think we are able to teach others ourselves or not, we can all invite others to worship services or Bible studies.

It may be surprising how potentially effective it could be to simply offer an invitation to others. A 2016 Lifeway Research study surveying “unchurched” Americans (those who have not attended a worship service in at least six months) found that nearly eight in ten would be open to a friend discussing their faith with them. Furthermore, the study found that over half (51 percent) indicated that “a personal invitation from a friend or family member would be effective in getting them to visit a church.” Considering these numbers, it is very possible that of all the ways in which we may try to reach others with the gospel, simply inviting them to attend a worship service or Bible study with us may be the most effective.

Creating Opportunities to Invite

If we recognize that inviting others can be effective, how do we create opportunities to invite? While it is always possible to successfully invite those who are strangers to us, often we will be more successful with those whom we know. There are a couple of ways by which we can increase the quantity and quality of opportunities to invite these individuals.

First, we can create opportunities by our example. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We should live in such a way that others can see by our actions that we are seriously and sincerely following Christ. Peter indicated that our good example was important, especially because others will try to find reasons to accuse us of wrongdoing: “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). The apostle went on to explain that we are to be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks [us] to give an account for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Peter 3:15). As the apostle indicated in the context, these opportunities to answer questions about our faith will often come about because others have observed the way we live our lives – by being “zealous for what is good,” by practicing “righteousness,” by engaging in “good behavior,” and by “doing what is right” (1 Peter 3:13-14, 16-17). If we will set a proper example in this way, we will increase the number of potential opportunities we will have to offer an invitation to others.

Second, we can create opportunities by our conversations. Philip told Nathanael about Jesus (John 1:45-46). This led to an opportunity to invite him to come to Jesus. Similarly, we should develop a habit of discussing certain topics that could turn into an opportunity for an invitation. Such topics could include Jesus, the Bible, Biblical principles (in various areas of life), the church, reading the Bible, prayer, and so on. The more we learn how to seamlessly weave these kinds of topics into our conversations, the more opportunities we may find to invite others to assemble or study the Bible with us.

What Will They See?

In Nathanael’s case, he saw Jesus (John 1:47-49), including proof that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus also told him that he would see “greater things than these” (John 1:50). However, Jesus is not in the flesh today. So when we invite people, what will they see? Or more importantly, what should they see?

First, they should see the Lord’s church following His will. Jesus “purchased [the church] with His own blood” when He died on the cross (Acts 20:28). Therefore, because the church belongs to Him, it is to follow His will. Paul told the church in Ephesus, “Christ also is the head of the church…the church is subject to Christ” (Ephesians 5:23-24). A church that follows the Lord’s will is going to pattern its worship after what is found in the New Testament – singing (Colossians 3:16); praying (Acts 2:42); preaching/teaching (1 Corinthians 14:26; Acts 20:7); and, on the first day of the week, observing the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7) and giving (1 Corinthians 16:2). Visitors should also see – at least as much as can be visible to guests – that the church is engaged in work that is according to and limited to the same pattern – evangelism (1 Thessalonians 1:8), edification (Ephesians 4:16), and limited benevolence (Acts 4:32-35; 1 Timothy 5:16).

Second, they should see God’s word being studied and proclaimed. Jesus is not here in the flesh as He was when Philip invited Nathanael. However, we do have His word (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:10-16). Peter wrote, “‘The word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the word which was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:25). The word of the Lord has been recorded for us in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 4:2; 2 Peter 3:2). Therefore, if we are going to speak in matters of religion, we have a divine obligation to “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11, NKJV). The way that people can see the word of the Lord being studied and proclaimed is by us showing from the Scriptures what is true. Paul’s “custom” in preaching involved reasoning “from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence” (Acts 17:2-3). This should be our practice as well.

Third, they should see the Lord’s people proving to be His disciples. We prove to be Jesus’ disciples by showing “love for one another” (John 13:34-35), by welcoming those from the outside regardless of who they are (James 2:1-4), and by worshiping “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Those who visit should also see – especially with the ones they may know from outside of that assembly – that those who are members of the church have been showing a consistent example of good works (1 Peter 2:12) and are not guilty of hypocrisy that is such a common charge against Christians. If we live in such a way that we give any “cause for offense,” it will cause “the ministry [to] be discredited” in the minds of those who are in the world and need to be reached with the gospel (2 Corinthians 6:3). We must not allow our poor example turn people away from the Lord.

Conclusion

It is important that we try to reach others with the gospel. Sometimes, the most effective way to do this is one of the simplest – invite them to “come and see.” This will give them the opportunity to “see” Jesus – the author of salvation (Hebrews 5:9) – and hear the gospel – the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16).


When you subscribe, you’ll also receive 3 free PDF’s: Plain Bible Teaching on Blessings, the latest issue of Plain Bible Teaching Quarterly Review, and Social Issues.


Comments

  1. Stephen tetteh says

    This is a blessing and a great exposition.
    God bless you

  2. Thanks, Stephen.