Bow your heads and close your eyes????

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by jet, Jul 5, 2009.

  1. jet

    jet
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    I am a member of a IFB Church...and i have a question regarding when pastors at the end of the sermon says "to bow your head and close your eyes....and if your are saved could i see your hands".

    Where did this practice originate from? And why the secrecy about letting a non christian know about your salvation? Is this showing that you are a coward...would you not want the non believer to know? Is the practice rooted in scriptures?

    Thank you in advance for your response.
     
  2. billreber

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    In my experience, the request is not for the Believer to "hide" from the Nonbeliever, but to provide a little security (in feelings) for those who have just made a decision, but may be fearful of making a public confession. IMHO, this is ill-conceived, but I have seen/heard it many times in many churches. The idea seems to be to make things comfortable for the spiritually weak. I have no idea when/where this started.

    I must emphasize, though, that I have also usually heard an invitation from the pulpit for those who raised their hands to come forward and MAKE a public confession of that decision.

    One church where I do not recall ever hearing the "close your eyes" part was Muldoon Road Baptist Church in the early 1970s. The wanted people to know when decisions were made, even if nobody made public at that time what they had decided. This was the place where I prayed for God to show me a sign (sounds funny to me now!) that He was real. I "heard" in my head that a family of four (father, mother, boy and girl) would respond to the invitation to visit the pastor and tell what decision they had made. I was the fifth person to go down!

    There was no "close your eyes". There was no "bow your heads". There was only an invitation to tell someone what I had decided. At that point, I really didn't understand what I was doing, but the pastor and his helpers (the church members) helped me to learn and grow. That was nearly 38 years ago! Now I am trying to continue to do what they did for me, for the children in my church. To God be the glory!

    Bill :godisgood:
     
  3. TC

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    Actually, I have never heard someone end a sermon that way. All of the Churches I have been to end with an "if you are not saved and would like to believe in Jesus as your Savior today, then raise you hand" or "if God has been speaking to you about something in your life and you would like prayer then come to the front after the service and one of the elders or myself will come and pray with you."

    I think the idea is that if a person thinks that no one can see them, then they will be more likely to respond in a positive manner.
     
  4. BaptistBob

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    Pastors have people coming into their offices all the time to talk about private things that they would not share in public. I see nothing wrong with a pastor asking people to do something to show their present spiritual or emotional state. A pastor need to know his flock, and he usually can't communicate effectively with everyone. The squeaky wheels are always casting a shadow on his doorway.
     
  5. Magnetic Poles

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    I believe it is a manipulative tactic.
     
  6. JohnDeereFan

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    I'm not a fan of "...and now if you'll just repeat this simple prayer after me..."

    Usually, I'll just say something like "if you would like us to pray with you, please come on up and join us and if you have any questions about the Gospel you've heard today, Pastor Jim, Brother George and I will be here after the service, so please don't hesitate to come and see us". Or, if I'm out in public, I'll just point them point them to members of our team, "...if you'd like to learn more about how you can be saved, forgiven of your sins, reconciled to God, and made a child of His today, please look for the folks in the blue shirts scattered around the crowd. They'll be more than happy to talk to you, to answer any questions you might have, or to pray with you".

    There's a lot of manipulation that goes on in evangelism, even among evangelists who may mean well and have the best of intentions. That's something we all need to watch out for.
     
  7. TheOliveBranch

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    Maybe it's for those that are seen as saved by everyone, and would be embarrassed to make that confession immediately after hearing a message. This would let the pastor know this person may be questioning their salvation at that point by not being able to honestly raise their hand.
     
  8. Jim1999

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    I do not believe nor practice any form of human coercion in a public service. I fully believe that when God works upon the soul of man, he will respond in order.

    As far as closing eyes is concerned, I pray often walking about in my study, in the fields or in the woods. The idea of closing eyes was that man might think more of God if he is not looking about. Not so!

    The invitation is made in the sermon and not some fancy dalliance to extend the service time.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  9. Revmitchell

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    Everyone who gives an invitation does not do so to coerce anyone. But I can see why the reformed folks wouldn't bother.
     
  10. baptistteacher

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    This is usually followed by a similar question to the lost people in the room, and thus the reason for the privacy, so that they might respond in a non-threatening environment.
     
  11. OldRegular

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    Hallelujah! MP and I finally agree on something! We had a big rain last night> Perhaps the humidity has gotten to me!
     
  12. Amy.G

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    I would not call invitations "coercion" but I don't like the manipulation (for lack of a better word). And I am not reformed, but I do believe that it is God that moves the heart and when a person responds in faith they really could care less who is watching. At least that's the way it was with me.
     
  13. OldRegular

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    Well Said!
     
  14. Tom Butler

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    Let me pose a theory and you Non-Cals tell me if I've characterized it correctly.

    Most non-Cals believe that every individual possesses a God-given ability to make choices. They hold that it would be inconsistent if God commands all to repent, but does not give all the ability (or free will) to do so.

    That being the case, then soul-winning involves mainly persuading a lost person, by whatever means, to make a decision for Christ. Whatever works is okay. The whole idea is to get them to make a decision. It it means getting them to take just one step toward the front, go for it. If it means getting them to raise their hand, admitting that they are lost, whatever works. If it means persuading them to pray a prayer, that's okay.

    To sum up, one's soteriology drives his witnessing and soul-winning methods. Thus, getting somebody to raise their hands is perfectly consistent with the Non-Cal's soteriology.

    Am I right or wrong?
     
  15. Allan

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    Tom, without question you have absolutely NOT characterized it correctly.

    It is biblical that all men have the ability to choose (even Cals agree with this). The distinction between our views isn't the ability to choose or not but toward whom God works. As I stated, even Cals agree with this since the sinner willingly chooses sin and death and the believer has willingly chosen repentance and life. Thus you also hold men have the 'ability' to choose.

    Secondly, no we (this refers to the most crowd) do not hold it 'inconsistant' for God to command all men to repent and not allow some to do so. We hold it 'biblically inconsistant' to state or teach otherwise. The distinction here is derived from either human reasoning or from biblical instruction. There is quite enough scripture to back up this doctrinal truth brother and thus it falls into the catagory of biblical instrunction and not human wishful or fanciful thinking.

    This being the case, we are commanded to preach the gospel and let God bring the increase. Can we biblically plead with them in presenting the gospel or beg them who hear to respond.? YOU BET!! We find Paul doing this very same thing in his writtings, stating things like :
    Here we have Paul begging the people to be reconciled and this is only one example. Paul even states that he becomes all things to all people that 'he' might save some. Now this isn't good Reformed speach by Paul to state that 'he' might save some but he is acknowledging his part in God's work to bring people unto himself. And that in doing so he must reach out to all people as best he is able and still biblically sound. This means is a - what I must do - means but at the same time Paul resolutely states that their coming is not by enticing words. IOW- Paul is sugar coating anything but giving them, in the most imploring way, the truth for them to respond to (as God is at work in them).

    There is nothing 'bibilcally' wrong with having people raise their hands, oome up front, or admitting they are lost. It isn't even a theological issue since many Calvinists do the same types of things, men like C. H. Spurgeon was one. Sure different people do it different ways the functionality of them are still the same. Encourage them to respond.!

    However, if you can find biblical support against the above, then pull it up and let us hear it. Otherwise brother, I encourage you not stand against those things which God uses via the men He has called, but to stand with us non-cals who are against the flagrant abuse of these methods by some men.

    To sum up, one's soteriology drives his witnessing and soul-winning. However the methods used have no bearing their soterological view but are determined more so by the passion and compassion of one who is proclaiming the gospel. Thus, getting somebody to raise their hands is perfectly consistent with any theological view of soterology.
     
    #15 Allan, Jul 7, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2009
  16. gb93433

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    From what I see in scripture the preachers gave the people a chance to respond to the message. An invitation is to be a response to the message not another mini sermon tacked onto the end as though the message was not important but now comes the real deal.
     
  17. Allan

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    Thus there isn't anything in scripture per-say that dictates how an invitation/response is to be done or not done - but it does give us certain things that we are to be careful not to do when proclaiming the gospel message. I will agree that you don't need a second sermon to express an invititation but that does not mean a person should speak as the Spirit of God leads them either.
     
  18. gb93433

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    I absolutely agree 100%. The Holy Spirit must lead us. I can remember a time when I was to preach at a large church and had a sermon prepared well in advance of Sunday. About two hours before I was compelled to change the sermon. I told my wife that I was not comfortable with that but could not get away from it. Quite reluctantly and feeling like it may be a stupid idea I did change the sermon and text I preached from. Immediately after I preached the sermon I felt as though I wondered why I felt compelled to change the sermon. When I gave the invitation there was only one person who came forward. It turns out that one of her cousins had just been murdered. Then I knew why God had me change the text. The assistant pastor had the church stay and pray for the lady. It seems that God works and we may not know why but it is not for us to always know why. It is important for us to know who leads though.
     
  19. Thinkingstuff

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    I remember when I was first saved. This preacher during our spiritual emphasis week or convocation preached the Gospel of christ for a week. By Wednesday my heart was ready and I wanted to accept Jesus. He gave the invitation to bow our heads and close our eyes and ask Jesus into our hearts. Which I did. Then he asked if those who had said the prayer to come forward. Which being a teenager in a close knit boarding school where the majority of kids are MKs; I was too embarassed to come foreward. I sat there. But I noticed (funny how we think every one is looking at us when other people go foreward we don't mind) a lot of people were emotional and I had no "feeling" about my prayer. So I thought (as would make sense to me having been raised catholic) I did something wrong. On Thursday I didn't go foreward either. So I grabbed my roommate and asked him to pray with me at the Chapel which he did. I still didn't "feel" anything and thought that I wasn't really saved or did the invitation "right" because I was too much of a coward to go foreward. On Friday night I waited until the very last (when everyone was actually looking) working up my courage to 1) let people know I hadn't been a Christian and 2) I needed, wanted, and accepted salvation. I went up and prayed in front of everyone not wanting to be noticed but since I was the very last I was! Just a side note I didn't "feel" anything then either. However, my life was turned around since that time. Not that this had much to do with this discussion other than to note that the evangelist who participated in my conversion went with the eyes closed and then the very public anouncement. Strange that years later a missionary wife I had always had a hard time with because she was often down right mean became saved after 30 years of doing missionary work with her husband you could see the change there as well! So I supposed its to limit embarrasment to people whom everyone believed was a part of the body of believers.
     
  20. gb93433

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    Great story. Thanks.

    A good friend of mine has a wife who told me that she came forward when her husband who was the pastor of the church gave an invitation.

    I was attending a church for a short time when away from home and a deacon who had been a deacon for something like 20 years came forward.

    My wife and I went through some classes to become members of a church and on the last meeting we were to give our testimony. Toward the beginning of the time a young son who gave his testimony. After all of us gave our testimony there was a lady who was last and she told all of that she heard our testimonies and realized that she had never made a decision to follow Christ. So that was the night she made her decision.

    A few years ago I was preaching and gave the invitation. At the end of the invitation a young lady came forward and she told me that she had been baptized in the church because her friends were and she was coming forward to make her decision to follow Christ. Her dad got mad at me telling me that she had been baptized years earlier.

    I think those kind of decisions happen more than we would care to admit.
     
    #20 gb93433, Jul 7, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2009

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