Altar Call

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Betty, Oct 10, 2002.

  1. Betty

    Betty
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    Where do we get the "altar call" from? Is there any place in the Bible that specifically says that when the pastor has finished his sermon that he is to invite folks to come to the front of the church? If a person wants to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, why is it the pastor expects them to come to the altar?
     
  2. Baptist Believer

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    It's something that was added within the last 200 years by the revivalists and evangelists. I don't think the practice is evil, but it can be used in evil ways.

    Frankly, I'd like to know where these people think the *altar* is? Baptist churches don't have altars because we are no sacrificing anything. Some evangelists seem to think the steps in the front are altars (they gesture and say "come and pray at the altars"). Others seem to think the communion table is an altar -- unless you have a Roman Catholic view of communion, you are not sacrificing Jesus on that table!
     
  3. Frogman

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    We should urge, teach, preach and implore any being dealt with and drawn to go to Christ, wherever the location.

    Sometimes, the "altar" is definitely a hinderance.

    God Bless.

    Bro. Dallas
     
  4. Bartimaeus

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    I live in North Central Arkansas and the Church of Christ Denomination is very strong here. They seem to try to use the fact that Baptists use the word "alter" to prove that we have unscriptural beliefs and practices. I have tried to stop using the word because of this and due to the fact that we have no alter but Calvary. We have a "mourner's bench".
     
  5. Ben W

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    The Salvation Army have two objects at the front of there churches. One a Holiness Table to which people can come at any stage of a meeting for unacompanied prayer. The second is the Mercy Seat a plank of wood that people kneel at to accept Jesus or for assisted prayer to put things right with the Lord. Salvationists will happily lead a person through the sinners prayer at an outdoor meeting or anywhere they are given the opportubity to witness Jesus Christ.
     
  6. Rev. G

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    It comes from the Second Great Awakening when the "anxious bench" was popularized by Charles Finney. Finney went so far as to say that the "anxious bench" (our "altar call") has replaced baptism as one's public profession of faith. That may seem far-fetched, but when you consider how we use the altar call and speak of it being one's "public profession" you can see that we have left the NT on the matter. Baptism is one's public profession!

    There is no biblical warrant for the practice, although some try (erroneously) to assert that when Jesus declares, "Whoever confesses me before men..." is speaking of the altar call.

    Rev. G

    [ October 10, 2002, 08:57 AM: Message edited by: Rev. G ]
     
  7. Thankful

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    I have always heard it called an invitation. In fact that is what is on our bulletin...invitation hymn. It is an invitation to profess Christ as Savior before men, to join the church, rededication of one's life, surrender to the ministry.

    I had not heard it called an Altar Call until recently when someone said that a certain church did not have an altar call.

    Romans 10:9-10 states: That if thou shalt confess with they mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made with salvation.

    This is a way of confessing with one's mouth.

    We also call this a public decisions. This is the way people join our church.
     
  8. Frogman

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    wouldn't the broken body of Christ be closer to an "altar?"

    Consider the brazen altar; the place of the slaying of the sacrifice; and the burning of the offering; then we have the altar of incense; symbolizing the prayers of saints; then inside the veil, which is now rent, the "mercy-seat" where God promised to commune. This mercy seat would by necessity be Christ, this altar of incense would by necessity be Christ, this brazen altar, upon which the sacrifice is placed, would be the body of Christ, suffering the judgement of God, (in place of believers), His body offered for the judgement of Sin. Others died on the cross, others offered sacrifice to idols, these were not the "Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."

    God Bless you all in your walk and service to Him.

    Bro. Dallas
     
  9. Ben W

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    Any one can go through the waters of baptism. it is far better to go through the waters of baptism if they have made a descion to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

    Acts 2:21 states that "All who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved" Kneeling at the mercy seat / Altar is calling on the Lord.
     
  10. HankD

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    Perhaps it is a metaphorical way of answering the Scripture:

    Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
    2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

    Somewhat misplaced for a modern "salvation" or "altar" call since the Romans were already saved.

    HankD

    [ October 11, 2002, 09:44 AM: Message edited by: HankD ]
     
  11. Frogman

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    I have had it said to me and heard it said of others: "The message was good, but there was no invitation given to provide people with the opportunity to come to Jesus and make a decision."

    I believe there are a few things wrong with this kind of thinking, primarily.

    It has created a "crutch" whereby christians and the lost are able to justify the hardness of their hearts by pretending they cannot immediately turn to Christ, apart from some preacher make mention of an "invitation."

    I try to teach when given the opportunity that we are to go immediately to Christ. Grider Memorial does have a "mourners" bench in the front; I believe people should know however that worship is personal. There is no biblical regulation for any to make a move to this place, nor for it to be offered by any man. When and if the Spirit of God visits anyone who is backslidden or lost, that moment is the "invitation." If that person feels moved upon to go to the "mourners" bench (in our case) this should be done, regardless, they should then immediately turn to Christ.

    Nothing would please me more than for folks to react in such a way. Nothing would be more true to worship in Spirit and truth than to disregard the presence of the man delivering the message, the form for the services, etc. than to respond to the visitation of God in such a way that when He invites us we then move.

    I believe the "altar call" (or invitation) is a formality invented to gratify men such as myself that "my message" moved so and so. I encourage my hearers to move as God leads them, if this means my message is interrupted, that is nothing. The important thing is that all who do feel the invitation of God to come to Christ, or to return to fellowship heed His voice.

    Maybe I have written too much to make my point. I believe this "invitation" should be given when we are moved upon to do it, however, I believe to say "I didn't "go" because there was no invitation, is incorrect and will not be acceptable when we do stand before our Judge. Christ has made the eternal invitation. If I as a lost sinner or as a brother fallen from fellowship do not hear this invitation, I cannot truly put that requirement upon the one delivering the message.

    To pretend it requires a preacher to open the invitation is a show of emotionalism to me. If God has issued that invitation, the individual need not be prompted for God will press upon them until they do turn to Christ, whether at church, at home, work, driving the car, or whatever the environment and circumstances.

    This "altar call" has been overdeveloped and I wander if sometimes it is not what some "believe in" to the saving of their soul.

    I have seen people who have been saved, who could not wait to receive baptism, just could not get into the water soon enough, who have been faithful. I have also seen others saved and very much desiring baptism, but since receiving it, no longer attend church. I cannot judge their hearts and will not, however, if the work is true, there is one I am sure that is Judging those hearts.

    God Bless all in your walk and service to Him.
    Bro. Dallas
     
  12. Music Man

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  13. Frogman

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    Bro. Chris,

    I noticed you are from Texas. It was an incident related to your state which further developed my burden.

    A family from Grider Memorial moved to Texas two years ago. They have since returned. Shortly after returning the husband gave testimony of how he was glad to have his children back in a church where the "altar" is present. It seems most of the churches they visited while in Texas did not have this item. When the pastor was questioned concerning this (though I can't remember the specific words) the general answer was the altar had never been present. This man and his wife was 'bothered' by this in most cases they felt this prevented their worship in a "sound" church.

    What bothered me about his testimony is the fact he was raised Catholic, though his wife was raised in Grider Memorial (missionary Baptist), she still failed to see the insignificance of the ommission of the "altar." While the husband seemed to highlight that ommission determining their inability to "find" a suitable church.

    You can see the implications here. This prompted me to speak with the two to try and explain the presence of the "altar." Since this time I have been trying to teach the absence of the altar is not the absence of the "knee route way," nor indicative of an absence recognizing the need of repentance.

    Thanks for the link.

    God Bless you in your walk and service to Him.

    Bro. Dallas

    [ October 11, 2002, 11:06 AM: Message edited by: Frogman ]
     
  14. Dr. Bob

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    The 'invitation system' is a result of the aberrant theological errors of arminian teaching.

    If MAN is in charge of salvation (not God) then the whole concept of invitation, altar calls, "hit-the-sawdust-trail" et al are staple fixtures. It motivates, intimidates, cooerces, and manipulates.

    Unless led specifically by God, I will probably never have a typical baptist "invitation" again.
     
  15. Scott_Bushey

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  16. Betty

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    Thanks to all who responded to my question. Many questions in my mind are now answered. Thank you all!
     
  17. tlange

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    I have always wondered about the invitation system myself because you never hear about it in the New Testament. Also interesting is that Charles Spurgeon never gave an invitation like we know it and yet the Lord allowed him to build a great church!

    I have always felt that some people use the invitation as a manipulative tool to guilt people into getting "saved" rather than letting the Spirit of God do the saving work!
     
  18. Speedpass

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    In Acts 2, didn't Peter give an "atlar call" or "invitation" of sorts at the end of his sermon?
     
  19. russell55

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    Not really. The sermon ended, they were convicted and asked, "What shall we do?" Then came the plea to repent.
     
  20. M Wickens

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    It is important to challenge the congregation at the end of a sermon but an invitation is certainly not necessary. Personally I would not give an invitation, unless the Spirit directly led otherwise, but would counsel people to see me or another Christian afterwards. That is the method Spurgeon used.

    I wouldn't say there was a problem with the invitation in most circumstances but it does hae dangers. I've been in a church service where the preacher just kept the invitation going and almost everyone walked out in agreement that God had left the service long before we did and that the preacher was looking to boost his ego with a profession from someone.

    Done with the right motivations and methods they can be okay, but there are dangers and personally I wouldn't use them.
     

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