This is your opportunity to be saved; do not let it pass you by....is the concluding call from many preachers.
“You must decide for Christ...” many in the pulpit are saying. “If you would only give yourself to Him, He will give Himself to you”....say the evangelists of “decisional regeneration”. Or as Finney used to preach it.....”and you must decide now whether you will follow Him or not -- and decide for eternity!” “You can make the choice tonight. You can make the first step....by a choice you make,” says Billy Graham
There is a very familiar verse found in I Cor 1:18 that says, “for the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness.” It seems that this verse is being twisted around by some in the evangelistic community. It is the preaching of foolishness that is being used to attempt to save the perishing, especially concerning what has become known as the “altar call”. Please raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of the modern altar call. Yes..I see those hands. Now for those of you who raised your hands I’m going to ask you to get up out of your seat and come to the front; you must come openly and publicly. You can come, just as you are (but evidently not where you are)...but you must make the first move. Sound familiar? Too! One local pastor in the KC area has written about his early years in his ministry: “we sang verse after verse of invitation hymns like "Just As I Am" and we sometimes sang on for an hour or more trying to get people to come forward. I once had an evangelist in a church where I pastored and his entire program consisted of night after night telling sob story after sob story climaxing with the saddest one of all and then giving an invitation to come to the front and accept Christ.” http://www.victorybaptist.us/show.wc?msgaltarcall (see my blog..Emotional Engineering)
Not only is the “altar call” unbiblical, (not found in Holy Writ) I believe, it is also anti-biblical (putting works prior to faith). The problem is that we are a “results” oriented people. We need to see the results...NOW! We can’t preach like Noah did for 100+ years and not see someone come forward or walk the aisle. We can’t wait for the Holy Spirit to do his regenerating work. We need to usurp that part of the gospel or we may be deemed unsuccessful preachers...even though we were never called to be successful preachers....just faithful preachers....you know...like Noah.
Now here is my problem or issue with the modern day gospel preachers. Many are giving a false gospel. “Do this and live”...kind of appeal. Even one of my favorite Reformed theologians hints at “do this and live”. “The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith – and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him – and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.” R.C. Sproul ( http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/what-gospel/) How can one who is “dead in trespasses and sin” (Eph 2:1)..”do that”? The only way one can (is able, or has the ability to) “do that” is with a changed heart or nature. Now R C Sproul makes this abundantly clear in his 213 page book “Chosen By God”....but that is not explained in the link above to “What is the Gospel?” Perhaps some may think that if I only lift myself up by my own bootstraps I can achieve what God requires. There is a popular preacher I call “The When We Begin Ta’...”preacher. His sermons are full of “when we begin ta’ fill in the blank, then God will fill in the blank R. C. does explain the futility of this thinking in Chosen By God: “In regeneration God changes our hearts....regeneration precedes faith. Without rebirth (regeneration) we have no desire for Christ”. Any of our outward responses to Christ are initiated inwardly by Him. It is God that works in you....(Phil 2:13) Only in this manner can the bible truly declare..”Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9)
How was it that Spurgeon, Edwards, Whitfield and many other Reformed preachers got the message out without the use of an “altar call”? (which, by the way, was unheard of prior to Finney, early-mid 1800’s) Basically the same way Peter and Paul did: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ...” Acts 2:38 And Paul: “I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God...” (Acts 26:19) In Peter’s call to repentance, 3000 souls were added to the church. How were they added? “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47) Can you believe it...without any emotional engineering? No “Just as I Am” sung “Softly and Tenderly”? No altar call? No hour long begging and pleading by the evangelist? No! The Holy Spirit was active... “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he wishes" (John 5:21) May we just have faithful preachers that leave the altar call to the working of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those whom He has foreknown, predestinated, called, justified and glorified. (Rom 8:29, 30