Is the "altar call" Biblical?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by michael-acts17:11, May 4, 2011.

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  1. michael-acts17:11

    michael-acts17:11
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  2. Jkdbuck76

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    As long as the preacher is CLEAR that the act of coming forward does not save, then yes.

    I responded to an altar call.....after a youth group meeting out on the deck of my friend's house.
     
  3. mandym

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    So is purchasing church buildings and business meetings

    An ugly and unnecessary as well as unfounded accusation.
    I have never seen this to be the case and really doubt it ever has. It seems to be a twisting of the reality to fit a presupposition.
    And this is not ever practiced in this way.

    False and without foundation

    This ranks on the end of immature but most obviously unnecessary

    He seems to be just trying to make up things as he goes along.

    Then for those who come that way it is a moot point. But it is irresponsible to paint everyone that way just because you do not like something.

    Huh?
    Then let's get rid of church buildings, buses and vans, business meetings, and bathrooms etc.

    The logic used here is just false.
     
  4. sag38

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    He's thrown the baby out with the dirty bath water.
     
  5. mandym

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    Better put and more succinctly.
     
  6. Iconoclast

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    the article is good....F inneys new measures started this error.Only false theology keeps it alive
     
  7. dwightp

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    I heard a story once that D.L. Moody was preaching one night and urged the parishioners to think about accepting Christ and then making a decision about it the next week.

    That very night was the great Chicago Fire. I was told that Moody was upset because he realized that people who had been in church that evening might have died later that night in the fire, having failed to come to Christ. I was told that he decided right then and there to never let that happen again and that he always gave an altar call for the rest of his ministry.
     
  8. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    I've told this story on the Baptist Board before.

    During a mission trip to Romania, I learned that Romanian Baptists don't do invitations.

    I asked why. The pastor said, "Two reasons. First is cultural. Those who come to us come from a Catholic or Orthodox background, and some have no spiritual background at all.

    "But more important, we have come to believe that it is not necessary for us to create an atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to do His work. When the Spirit of God stirs someone's heart, we do not have to beg or exhort them. They will come seek us out."

    So the Romanian pastor doesn't have the audience standing, singing appropriate "invitation" music, while he exhorts the lost to come forward. They're not urged to come if they have been saved, want to be saved, have a burden for a relative to be saved, have a burden of any kind, want to rededicate their life or "have a need."

    This is the pastor of a church which has 150 members, but runs 300 for Sunday worship (which runs a minimum of two hours). This is a church that has a two-year probationary period for new members before they are allowed to have any responsibility in church life. For two years they will be discipled.

    I think the following story is also illustrative. My grown daughter, who belonged to another church, visited my church (where she grew up) on a Sunday night. I happened to be away that night. Later that evening, she called me, disturbed that my pastor has not given an invitation at the end of the service.

    "Dad," she asked, "how do people get saved if you don't have an invitation?" It was a teachable moment, but illustrative of the Southern Baptist culture she had grown up in. To get saved, have to have an invitation. To get saved, you walk the aisle. To get saved you "step out on faith." To get saved you "come to the altar."

    The mindset is more prevalent that I thought.

    To be clear, I'm not against invitations per se. I think we have to be super-careful to use the right words and language, and to make the exhortation clear. Our use of buzz-words and manipulative language have produced a lot of false converts, in my opinion.
     
    #8 Tom Butler, May 4, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2011
  9. Iconoclast

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    The message of the blood of the cross preached is the invitation.
    If you have to add to the message at the end ,the message was weak.

    Jesus is in heaven, not the front of the building.Believers baptism is the proper confession of faith...mot raising a hand.
     
  10. Tom Butler

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    I've heard sermons where the invitation is not part of the message, but an appendage to it. I'm thinking of one TV preacher who preaches mostly feel-good messages, then,almost as an afterthought, makes his pitch with the Sinner's Prayer. Absolutely no groundwork has been laid in any of his sermons. No gospel is preached to his 25,000 listeners or to his viewers.

    So, Iconoclast, we're on the same page. The message is the invitation and the public confession is the baptism. But my concern is not the use of the invitation; it's the misuse.

    BTW, the Lord saved me during an invitation. I wish I could remember the message and what the preacher said during the invitation. I was too busy to pay attention. The Holy Spirit was demanding my attention at the time.
     
  11. Tom Butler

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    Following that mission trip to Romania I mentioned in post #8, I became super-sensitive to how we as Baptists in America present the gospel. That included the language we use.

    So, in a conversation with my pastor a few years ago, I asked him "where is the altar in a Baptist church? You keep exhorting us to come to the altar. Where is it?"

    Of course, it's symbolic. He and I both knew that. But what are lost people in the audience hearing? And what are they hearing when the preacher pleads for them to "come to Christ," meaning, come down here where I am? Are they hearing, come down here to get saved? Or, if you want to be saved, you have to come down here.

    Why can people get saved in the pew where they are?

    I used to hear Billy Graham say, more than once, "if you'll get up out of your seat...."
    I've more than one preacher say, "If you'll step out on faith...."

    There seems to be a thread that runs through all those kinds of exhortations. It is, to be saved you need to move, walk, or crawl to the front. Someway, somehow, if you can get to where the preacher is, salvation is there. But you have to come and get it. You won't find it in your seat.

    Now, look. I don't really think there's a Baptist preacher out there who really thinks those things. They all have a burning desire to see souls saved, and their pleas to the lost are impassioned and sincere. The majority of them are simply doing what they saw their own pastors and evangelists do. And frankly, it does get people down the aisle.

    What I'm talking about is not what is said, but what is heard by the lost. That's why we have to be sure we don't blow an uncertain trumpet when calling men and women to Christ. I have seen too many people walk the aisle, and today I don't know where they are. I have seen too many people walk the aisle who made a public profession years earlier, but have concluded they were not saved back then. What message did they hear? What kind of invitation did they respond to?

    See why this is too serious a business to not get the message right.
     
  12. Allan

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    While I agree that we don't need to create an 'atmosphere' for the Spirit of God to work.. I find his position in stark contrast to the apostles Peter and Paul, who in scripture, at various times begs, pleads, and exhorts people to come to come to Christ, to be reconciled, ect.
    An example 2 Cor 5:20
    and here:
    and here:
    - exhort means 'to call to ones side' or 'call out to' in this passage.

    And others not so blatantly specific as well.. ie... harden not your hearts as in the days of provocation. While it is not necessarily a direct pleading, it is an indirect pleading for immediate action.

    And we see this just as often if not more so when dealing with believers, the pleading, calling, and imploring.

    While I quoted Peter and Paul (the other NT writers deal similarly) they thought it was important enough to let the people know it was not only appropriate to respond to the message they gave, but necessary. So did/do many who hold to reformed doctrines. I don't agree with abuse of such of course and typically only the most ardent abuses can be seen easily. But most often it is a very thin line, and so thin in fact that only God knowing their heart can speak authoritatively regarding that invitation.

    And as I said prior it is something many reformed/Calvinists do as well. And as has been cited on here many times before even Spurgeon was not against them. ANY appeal for action is always an appeal to obedience but neither can one divorce the emotional aspect of any appeal offered. If a person responds without conviction to and for what they are responding to, then are they truly acting in faith filled obedience?
     
  13. convicted1

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    (((((AMEN!!!!!)))))


    nutter(((((AMEN!!!!!)))))
     
  14. convicted1

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    Let's cut to the chase here, people!!

    Let's cut to the chase, people!!

    Thinks about this. If God can't shake a man down to the core, what can a puny man do?? Salvation starts with a Godly sorrow set up in one's life. In this Godly sorrow, is where repentance is born. Repentance leads to salvation. The invitation does not, and never has, started with man. It starts with God drawing them, setting up that Godly sorrow(1 Cor. 7:10), and then that person being willing to die the natural death to save his soul from hell. This is how it was with me. It got to the point where I didn't want to live without Him. I told Him, "Take my life, but save my soul when You do!!". If I couldn't live with Him in my life, I wanted to die!! I have never been the same since May 24, 2007, at approx. 1:30 AM!!! That's was on a wed. night/thur. morning.
     
  15. Allan

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    I agree here, the wording is important for a proper understanding.

    In my 18 years of ministry, this is 2nd most troublesome issue I have had to deal with. (first is basing one's salvation on an isle or praying 'some' prayer).
    While people 'can' get saved in the pew, very few actually do. When I say it is an issue, is because when I am counseling people or engaging them is a discussion on salvation (both instance always begin there) I have just as many stating I was saved while hearing a sermon or I believe what is being taught but I got saved in my seat. So when I asked how, typically I get a blank look. So then I smile and ask - If you were standing before God and he should happen to ask you why He should let you into heaven what would you say.. Most often I hear a works based answer and very seldom a gospel centered one.

    Another issue I found with what I call closet believers (those who don't want anyone to know they got saved) is that, in my experience, they try to keep it a secret. I have had many tell their salvation experience is a private matter and that it is not my place to ask them about it. :) That is when I really get on the boat. I have never understood the whole, I got saved in my pew and wouldn't tell but it took me day, weeks or months to reveal it to the their church body. I can't find that type of behavior in scripture regarding believers but that is what I have encountered most in my dealings with these types. Is this typical, I don't know, I can only tell you from my experience.

    But you just said there is a thread that runs through all those kinds of exhortations.. meaning you presume they do hold to that. You (and I do agree some of them do as well) misunderstand the premise and thus the reason for it.

    This has nothing to do with the invitation but with counseling and follow up teachings of the church. To many people put this on shoulders of the messenger, and disregard the fact it lays squarely on the shoulders of the church.

    While I agree with the above.. it must also be asked - WHY the did what they did? This is not always the fault of the message or messenger but the heart of the one at issue.
     
  16. Allan

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    If you don't give the people the opportunity to respond, (and that includes the lost among them) then that person has a not only weak theology but also a weak relationship to Christ, whereby Jesus and the apostles afforded the people such opportunities for response.

    While a message can be specifically to the church/believers, I should always give an appeal to those who might be among them that are not saved. There is no weakness at all, but a heart and action attuned to the heart and mind of God. If that is weak, then I will stay there.

    By your estimation, nor is Christ in your pew, at home, or car or anywhere else.. so do we have to physically die to meet him?
    Also, please show where raising your hand or walking an isle is said to be a the 'proper' confession of faith since you place it to mean supersedeing baptism.
     
  17. sag38

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    Allan, thank you for keeping the baby intact and throwing out the dirty side to an invitation. I almost always give an invitation for people to respond publicly to God's call on their life.
     
  18. Earth Wind and Fire

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    OK....do as you think best. From my prospective though, Im not comfortable with it, but thats just me. Here is Martyn Lloyd Jones opinion of alter calls. Since your the historian Allan, is ML-J correct it started with Charles Finney?

    http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_detail.php?422
     
    #18 Earth Wind and Fire, May 5, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2011
  19. DiamondLady

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    I think it important to give people the opportunity to respond to God and His message. I don't think it necessary to beg and plead, when God is working a person is either going to respond or reject the opportunity.
    While our church does open the altar to those who want to make a decision and it is open always for prayer, we don't always give an invitation at the end of the service. Sometime our pastor will feel the urging of the Holy Spirit to open the altar in the middle of the service and other times we form a family circle and pray together where he will ask if anyone realizes they're not a Christian. People can receive Christ's gift of eternal life anywhere, anytime. Doesn't have to be at the end of a Sunday worship service.
     
  20. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    Here is a 1st..... I aggggg ehh, cough.....I aggggg....I agree with Convicted .....

    "If God can't shake a man down to the core, what can a puny man do?"

    Ah, well said:thumbsup:
     
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