"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the Pressure Put Upon People to Come Forward in Decision

We are to preach the Word, and if we do it properly, there will be a call to a decision that comes in the message, and then we leave it to the Spirit to act upon people.
Early in the 1970s Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was the speaker at a ministers’ conference in the USA and at a question session was asked the following question:

Question:  During recent years, especially in England, among evangelicals of the Reformed faith, there has been a rising criticism of the invitation system as used by Billy Graham and others. Does Scripture justify the use of such public invitations or not?

Answer:  Well, it is difficult to answer this in a brief compass without being misunderstood. Let me answer it like this:

The history of this invitation system is one with which you people ought to be more familiar than anyone else, because it began in America. It began in the 1820s; the real originator of it was Charles G. Finney. It led to a great controversy. Asahel Nettleton, a great Calvinist and successful evangelist, never issued an “altar call” nor asked people to come to the “anxious seat.” These new methods in the 182Os and were condemned for many reasons by all who took the Reformed position.

One reason is that there is no evidence that this was done in New Testament times, because then they trusted to the power of the Spirit. Peter preaching on the Day of Pentecost under the power of the Spirit, for instance, had no need to call people forward in decision because, as you remember, the people were so moved and affected by the power of the Word and Spirit that they actually interrupted the preacher, crying out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” That has been the traditional Reformed attitude towards this particular matter.

The moment you begin to introduce this other element, you are bringing a psychological element. The invitation should be in the message. We believe the Spirit applies the message, so we trust in the power of the Spirit. I personally agree with what has been said in the question.

I have never called people forward at the end for this reason; there is a grave danger of people coming forward before they are ready to come forward. We do believe in the work of the Spirit, that He convicts and converts, and He will do His work. There is a danger in bringing people to a “birth,” as it were, before they are ready for it.The Puritans in particular were afraid of what they would call “a temporary faith” or “a false profession.”

There was a great Puritan, Thomas Shepard, who published a famous series of sermons on The Ten Virgins. The great point of that book was to deal with this problem of a false profession. The foolish virgins thought they were all right. This is a very great danger. I can sum it up by putting it like this: I feel that this pressure which is put upon people to come forward in decision ultimately is due to a lack of faith in the work and operation of the Holy Spirit. We are to preach the Word, and if we do it properly, there will be a call to a decision that comes in the message, and then we leave it to the Spirit to act upon people. And of course He does.

Some may come immediately at the close of the service to see the minister. I think there should always be an indication that the minister will be glad to see anybody who wants to put questions to him or wants further help. But that is a very different thing from putting pressure upon people to come forward. I feel it is wrong to put pressure directly on the will. The order in Scripture seems to be this – the truth is presented to the mind, which moves the heart, and that in turn moves the will.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I have never called people forward at the end for this reason; there is a grave danger of people coming forward before they are ready to come forward."

Like 6 year olds. Then they get baptized and all of a sudden many other 6 year olds are walking the carpet and getting baptized. I have seen this "chain reaction" happen many times in my SBC life.

Rex Ray said...

STOP HER – STOP HER! She’s reaching to touch his garment!

That’s NOT the way Jesus heals! She’s an EMBARRASSEMENT. She needs for Jesus to take her by the hand instead of putting on a carnival sideshow.

She’s making a short cut of the Holy Spirit conviction, illumination and conversion as being magically healed without Jesus even talking with her.

Rex Ray said...

“SOME THROUGH THE WATER, SOME THROUGH THE FLOOD, SOME THROUGH THE FIRE, BUT ALL THROUGH THE BLOOD.”

There are many ways people are approached to accept Jesus. Each one has its good and bad points.

I’d think Jesus would want us to emphasize the good points of each rather than the bad.

Bob Cleveland said...

Something within our "system" .. what's customarily, on the average, done in Baptist churches, has led to the situation in which 10 million or so of the people who've followed our pattern have simply fallen by the wayside. And in which 80+ percent of those little kids who walked an aisle and did the rest of the stuff, go away to college and never come back.

And in which 15% of the people do 85% of the work and give 85% of the money .. 35% give and do the other 15%, and half the people do nothing (so I've heard, at least)!

What strikes me is that nobody even wants to look for what's causing those situations to exist. As if it's OK that so many people join and then figure they must be OK and don't have to live like disciples.

My guess is that fault lies at the feet of the pastorate, and the GCRTF was only concerned about unreached people groups, and counting nickels and noses.

Compare that to the church in Acts, ask yourself what those folks had that made them willing to give it all up to follow Christ, and why we don't have any of that, now. To me, the emotional but easy way in the front door is one cause, but probably only the tip of the iceberg.

Tom Chantry said...

Rex Ray,

God can and does exercise His sovereign power to save sinners in all sorts of circumstances. No one here has denied that.

For example: tomorrow I could put away my sermon on Christ: the Resurrection and the Life. I could instead wear a gorilla suit into the pulpit and invite the children in the church to throw water balloons at me. That would not stop God from saving anyone He willed to save!

I trust, though, that you would agree that the gorilla suit is not a good option. It is a poor option because it would not glorify and exalt Christ. It also is not the means laid out in the Word of God by which men are to be saved, namely the preaching of the gospel.

Now I'm sure you think that you perceive a great difference between what I have described and the traditional altar call. I do not; a circus is a circus no matter how the ringmaster dresses. In the 1820's this is exactly how the invitation system appeared. It was and is an unbiblical innovation - something other than the God-ordained means by which we are to seek the conversion of the lost. It glorified the will of man rather than the saving power of God.

And yet this absurd system hasn't stopped God from saving men. Praise God! He works through folly, but that doesn't mean we should try to be fools, unless the folly we put on is the folly of preaching.

No one here is trying to stop people from being saved, nor even to invalidate salvations brought about through the altar call. I've heard it happen in churches that make no formal invitation that someone got confused and walked the aisle during the final hymn. Should that happen in my church tomorrow, I won't say "STOP HER - STOP HER!" I'll sit down next to her instead and urge her to trust in Jesus Christ who died to save sinners. SO your illustration is off point.

The question is not whether God can save through the altar call. Neither is it how we should respond to those being saved in it. The question is whether the church is honoring God and following his prescribed plan for the salvation of the nations. Gospel preaching is the essence of that plan; the invitation system has no part of it.

Dee said...

Wade
My own conversion story is a testament to your last two posts. I was a member of an unchurched family in the Boston area.I went forward at the age of 16 to "see what was going on." I went home and tried to read my Bible and got nowhere.

A year later, I was reading an article in Life magazine about the "Groovy Christians of Rye NY." (Yep, I'm now in my 50s). The reporter said one kid told him it was about a relationship, not a religion. So, right in the middle of a Star Trek episode, I got it. I said I believed. I didn't pray a sinner's prayer, etc.No one had ever taught me how to do it the "right" way. I just believed and wanted to follow this unknown Jesus.

God sent His Holy Spirit into the life of this teen in spite of her naive conversion and in spite of understanding next to nothing about the faith.

The next week, I attended a Methodist Youth Fellowship led by two Godly seminary students. It was a group I went to off and on. They were frustrated with our little group because we all sat there with nothing to say.

They read from 1 John 1 and asked if anyone could tell them what it was about. This unchurched teen launched into an explanation how I once lived in darkness but how Jesus brought me into the light. Their mouths dropped open.They asked what happened and I explained the article from Life magazine and my coming to faith during an episode of Star Trek.

God does work mysteriously and showed mercy to a naive teenager who knew no Christians either in her family or amongst her friends. He brings us to faith in His time and His way. Man has made up a lot of rules about "how to do it." All I know is that God seems to know how to do it very well.

Robert Hutchinson said...

at some point every person will be led of the Holy Spirit to make public their faith in Christ.

the invitation is one of those opportunities. and what better place to make public your faith than among other Christians who will rejoice with you?

of course no one gets saved through it, but one does make a huge step of obedience in telling the world that they are "a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior." and that's biblical.

baptism is another one of those opportunities to make public ones faith. and that doesn't save a person any more than walking an aisle.

most folks coming forward have probably already spoken with the pastor or someone else about salvation and have confessed to Christ and asked Him to save them.

the invitation is an opportunity to tell others that one has trusted Christ and desires to be baptized.

i've never heard a preacher ever say in order to be saved you must come forward, in church, after the sermon, during the invitation.

but The Preacher said, "Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven."

with those words, all public demonstrations of faith including the invitation are made biblical.

Thy Peace said...

CRBC Pastoral Blog [Tom Chantry] > Encountering Charles Finney

CRBC Pastoral Blog [Tom Chantry] > Charles Finney’s Stepchildren

Mark said...

Robert Hutchinson said:
"baptism is another one of those opportunities to make public ones faith."

and,

"but The Preacher said, "Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven."

with those words, all public demonstrations of faith including the invitation are made biblical."

Baptism is THE initial means of making one's faith in Christ known publicly, not "another one of those opporunitites..."

Matt. 10.32-33 is in the context of Jesus instructing his 'disciples' about their immediate ministry. He sends them with instruction; he warns them of impending dangers; he encourages them in spite of dangers; he looks forward to happy results. vv. 32-33 are spoken TO the disciples about THEIR ministry of proclamation, not about how their hearers are to be instructed to respond.

Todd Nelson said...

Interesting that the good doctor at Westminster Chapel was followed by the Nazarene-turned-Baptist RT Kendall. (Btw, I'm not sure it's helpful or even possible to label Kendall, if one felt the need to do so, given his varied associations and experiences.) He is a Bible teacher, nonetheless.

Regarding altar calls... Kendall once invited Arthur Blessit to preach at the Chapel. It was Blessit who influenced RT to start using invitations and a weekly personal street-witnessing activity, led by the pastor. Kendall was also influenced by John Wimber of the Vineyard movement, Holy Trinity Brompton (the Anglican church in which the Alpha Course started), and Rodney Howard-Browne (who was instrumental in the healing of RT's wife).

The changes at Westminster didn't go over well, but Kendall persevered for 25 years. He tells the stories in his book, In Pursuit of His Glory. It's worth reading.

Personally, I like the approach of the 10-11 week Alpha Course. Having led several over the years, I have seen God use presentations of the Word and no-pressure small group discussions to draw people to Himself. Many people of other religions came to faith in Jesus, grew spiritually, and began serving in the church.

Patient prayer and genuine love are often required of believers who work together to serve the people they're trying to reach. On the Alpha Course, done well, it is definitely a team effort. Whatever the method, I think the ingredients mentioned above are crucial -- along with a clear presentation of the gospel at the right time, of course.

If we will do these things that we *can* do, without pressure or manipulation, then it's up to God to do what only He can do -- the miracle of the new birth.

Christiane said...

Did Christ know that 'public statements' of faith in Him were the way to witness to others?

During the time of the early Christians, the 'confessio', a person who confessed belief in Christ, was often imprisoned and many times martyred for his witness.

Fast forward to today:
a 'safe' environment, much social approval awaits, and an 'experience' of publicly saying 'I am a disciple of Christ'.

But the world sees what?
A show? A Baptist cultural ritual?

Not to worry. The world will react as it will. But is there another way that a person can tell 'the world' that they are a disciple of Our Lord (a committed follower)?

St. John's Gospel has some help here: Our Lord gives 'a new Commandment' and says that if you have love one for another (the kind of love He has for us),
then that is how 'EVERYONE' will know that you are His disciples.

I guess 'EVERYONE' includes 'the world'. (Sounds pretty good to me.)

Is witnessing all about words spoken on a stage?
I don't think so.
Not after reading the Gospel of St. John. I think now that the Holy Spirit witnesses to the world about Christ, through the obedience of Christ's disciples to His 'new commandment'. There is no mistaking that level of witnessing for hypocrisy or show.

Robert Hutchinson said...

brother mark,

you said, "Baptism is THE initial means of making one's faith in Christ known publicly..."

and speaking in tongues is THE initial evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit.

i submit to ya brother that baptism is one of many means of making ones faith in Christ public.

the thief of the cross is a good example. he made his faith known, initially, through a public confession and as you know he never got the chance to be water baptized.

and yeah, i think in that confession he fulfilled the words of Christ previously quoted.

Anonymous said...

http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/alpha.html

Robert Hutchinson said...

christiane,

that's good stuff.

debbiekaufman said...

Chrisitane: Acts 2:36&37

debbiekaufman said...

Paul in 1 Cor. 2:1 said he did not come with "eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God."

Paul spoke against manipulative speaking. He called people to Christ not to an altar. The person may be sincere in his desire to come to Christ but to those without Christ the witness is that you have to walk down an aisle first. Then receive Christ. Baptism is the witness according to scripture. That is why it is public with witnesses.

Robert Hutchinson said...

sister kaufman,

paul was against manipulative preaching but i don't think eloquence and superior wisdom describes manipulative preaching.

paul may not have come with "eloquence or superior wisdom" but apparently apollos did.

A Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was powerful in ⌊the use of⌋ the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus.
Acts 18:24 (HCSB)

paul considered the eloquent apollos a co-laborer. "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth." 1 Cor 3:6 (HCSB)

Richard said...

Tom Chantry,

Most Baptist pastors are Arminians; and for the Arminians, altar call and other gimmicks are PART of the Gospel of salvation.

Many Baptist pastors believe that a sermon without an altar call is NOT complete (partial Gospel).

Their Arminian doctrine of salvation is the motivation behind the so called altar call.

Richard

Tom Chantry said...

And yet, as I've written in the links which Thy Peace keeps so graciously reposting, the practice of the altar call was unknown to the early Arminians and its ethos would have been firmly rejected by them. It came not from genuine Arminians, but from the arch-Pelagian Finney. I am convinced that there is more of a gospel issue here than merely a Reformed/Arminian squabble. And no, I'm not saying that everyone who uses an altar call rejects the gospel, but that the practice is incompatible with a biblical gospel.

Christiane said...

The place of the Holy Spirit in witnessing, is needing to be recognized, I think:

St. Paul writes in his epistle to the Christians at Thessalonika, this:

4 "For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you,
5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words,
but also with power,
with the Holy Spirit
and with deep conviction.
You know how we lived among you for your sake.
6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord;
in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. “


As Paul tells it, it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to call Christ 'Lord'.
We, on our own, are not able to do this, because the discernment needed touches our souls and our spirits, not just our intellect.

Richard said...

Tom Chantry,

The almost sacramental nature of altar call must be denounced and dropped because it is CONTRARY to the nature and essence of the Gospel. It pollutes and dilutes the Gospel of the grace of God.

Richard

debbiekaufman said...

Robert: But it is God who gave the growth. That is the point. In today's church it is more about manipulation(as I saw in the sermon Wade spoke of in this post) than intellect or any preaching from scripture. Did Apollos use manipulative preaching? Altar calls? I don't see that he did.

Thy Peace said...

Grace and Truth to You [Wade Burleson] > Abandon Doctrinal Preaching at the Peril of Souls.

Kelly Reed said...

I'm wondering when this debate became an either/or, all or nothing situation?

This is like arguing you can only use one type of tract while witnessing and all others are wrong.

Or arguing Fire & Brimstone preaching is the only way people will get saved.

It's really not far from a KJV Only type of debate and largely a waste.

Don't jump on the specifics of those examples b/c I realize many of you may denounce them as arminian anyway. That's not my point.

I just cannot agree with Tom Chantry who says, "the invitation system has no part of it."

Are some altar calls manipulative, emotional junk. Yes, absolutely. Should a church service close every single time with an invitation to "come to Jesus"--no--it should never be routine, methodical, expected or ritualistic.

However arguing that altar calls are wholly and completely off the gospel table is no different than saying you have to have one in order to be sharing the gospel on Sundays.

Both extremes are wrong.

Much of the problem as I see it stems from the attitude that exists in many of our churches that says that if you go forward in church at the end of a service, it must be b/c you're "getting saved".

When I come to the end of a message, I believe it is important to encourage people to respond to what they have heard in some way as the Spirit leads them.

Good preaching confronts people with a decision to make. Salvation may be needed for some. But the last time I checked, that's not the only way we can respond to God or His Word.

Some may have to decide to Repent, others may have an issue of obedience to settle, others may have a burden that they wish to "give over" to God.

In these moments, even the larger body of Christ can move in with encouragement for those in whom God is moving.

To me, an "altar call" is more than an opportunity to get saved, it is an opportunity to respond in some way. The Spirit can move on believers and unbelievers alike.

It is not the only way you can respond and the time should include an encouragement to talk later, answer questions and return.

If it is your conviction not to have altar calls, fine--you are free in Christ not to. Be fully convinced in your own mind, but don't look down on those who do choose to responsibly conduct them.

By all means criticize the manipulative junk (I do myself) but don't go to the extreme of condemning the whole practice.

New BBC Open Forum said...

"And yet, as I've written in the links which Thy Peace keeps so graciously reposting.... "

Isn't he something? That's why we affectionately refer to him as "Thy Link."

:-)

Robert Hutchinson said...

sister kaufman,

i agree with you. manipulation in any form should not be practiced by believers and especially preachers.

i haven't been able to listen to brother nolan's message but some who are commenting are bashing a public invitation time even when the Gospel is preached.

for some their math goes like this:

invitation equals manipulation.

therefore, no more invitations.

Jesus was constantly inviting people publicly to follow him. if Christ is present in the service and the Gospel is preached i see nothing unbiblical about having an invitation for people to make a public response.

when peter told those guys in acts to repent was that not a public invitation (repent) that necessitated a public response (be baptized)?

to me that reflects what the invitation should be and what it is with regards to salvation. Christ inviting men to repent and to be baptized.

but the invitation is more, it is also a time for believers present to respond to whatever the Holy Spirit is calling them to do. therefore, the invitation time is for believers too.

Christ continuously calls us to this thing or that thing and every time we get a call we need to respond. During an invitation lots of decisions or commitments are made for which people do not make public in the service.

yes Lord, i'll respect my husband more.

yes Lord, i'll love my wife as you loved me.

no Lord, i will not forgive my neighbor for painting their house that awful yellow mustard color.

Rex Ray said...

Tom Chantry,
If you use your “gorilla suit” and the water balloons in our church, I don’t believe God would save anyone but would have you looking for another church or a circus.

If you really believe you can’t stop God, why don’t you prove it by acting the clown?

So you believe the alter call is a circus act. I for one can tell you the Holy Spirit used the alter call as the first time I knew I was lost. After that, I had better things to do than sit in the balcony and comparing numbers of ball-headed men with my twin brother.

Your saying, “SO your illustration is off point” proves you missed the point. The point is the woman was healed by her faith…her act of revealing that faith (walking the isle or a hundred other ways) was NOT the usual method.

Your example of you telling the ‘confused’ woman to trust in Jesus is exactly what a preacher does to everyone who ‘walks the isle’.

If a hundred came forward in your service tomorrow, what would you do? Would you tell them they were making a circus – that’s not the way we do it - we worship – we don’t get saved?

You say the alter call is a new thing that glorifies the will of man rather than the saving power of God

I believe you’re a sad example of:

“Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.”

Robert Hutchinson said...

brother reed,

good words.

Bob Cleveland said...

Within the sales profession there's a well-known formula (it has to be, or I wouldn't know it) that, if you can get people to answer seven questions in the affirmative, they will buy. And, as salesmen, we learned many good "closing techniques" which we could use whenever we got what we termed a "buying signal".

Although those things may be good salesmanship, I personally think they have no part in presenting the gospel. Such salesmanship frequently produces what's later called "post-purchase cognitive dissonance", or buyer's remorse. And when we use any of the world's techniques to get people to "make a decision", that's precisely the sort of thing we're doing.

We seem to want people to agree with us about sin, and agree with us about repentance. Those realizations in the hearer are solely the work of the Holy Spirit, and when we undertake those jobs ourselves, we're apt to get the same result. Frequently, buyer's remorse.

That has no place in the gospel, to me.

Thy Peace said...

Rex Ray:

I would gently encourage you to read two posts of Charles Finney, which Tom Chantry authored on his blog. Also the one post by Wade Burleson about the effects of the lack of doctrinal preaching.

Kevin Bart said...

I would have to agree with the things stated by Robert Hutchinson and Christiane in their comments.

I am not seeing the "evil" of the method of the altar call. It is one of many methods used to give a person who has heard the Gospel an opportunity to decide to receive Christ or not, and to commit his/her life to Christ, and to show others of this decision / commitment. Good follow-up work is needed to determine if the person has truly understood what it means, and to help them to begin to grow. I believe the failure of doing the important follow-up work (which takes a lot of time & effort) is a bigger culprit in some people not truly being saved and not growing afterwards, than the method (altar call or other) used to share the Gospel and then publicly show the commitment to Christ.

I agree that if the Gospel is preached with manipulation and with a motive to add to a church's numbers of people saved, then there is something wrong. The Gospel needs to be presented in love (it is a wonderful message f God's love & mercy & grace), and the power of the Holy Spirit is essential because we cannot touch and change the heart of the other person, neither can we convict of sin or convince the person he/she needs Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can do this.

When we share Christ and the Gospel with others in the streets, we give them an opportunity to receive Christ and to commit their lives to Him. When we preach in a church we do the same, in a manner that is similar to an altar call. When we share in a person's home, we again give them the opportunity to receive Christ. Each time is different, with a different "method" if that is how you want to put it. But all come with a full explanation of the Gospel and a full explanation of what it means to truly believe in Christ by putting your full trust & confidence in Him and in what He did on the cross, not in our religion, or church, or denomination, or good works,... And also with an explanation of what repentance means.

If done in love, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, and with the proper follow-up work with the person afterwards, then God can and will use the altar call and other "methods" to touch and save people.

Anonymous said...

Kelly Reed:

Good point.

We have not used an alter call at our church since it was founded 18 years ago. But we do not see it as wrong, per se.

Louis

Thy Peace said...

Grace and Truth to You [Wade Burleson] > No Altar Calls and Hundreds of Conversions in the Past Five Years.

Bob Cleveland said...

I've heard a preacher stand at the front and say "It's so lonely up here ... no one is coming forward .. the altar has been so dry lately...".

That was a lot of years ago and I have been turned off to "Invitations" ever since.

Robert Hutchinson said...

brother wade,

okay. so i just watched brother nolan's message and fast forwarded to the invitation.

i see where you and others are coming from. where i believe brother nolan stumbled was when he implied to those who had repented and asked forgiveness through prayer that their private prayer of repentance was not sufficient for salvation.

the whole "keep the shades pulled down...don't let the devil get the victory" speech was lost on me.

by it brother nolan was suggesting that if you did not, that night, come forward and publicly acknowledge that you had taken Christ as Savior and Lord then you would not attain to full salvation.

now that kind of invitation is not the kind with which i speak.

what brother nolan should have made clear was that if you repented and are now trusting Christ, right where you are sitting, then salvation is yours.

a public response would simply be an opportunity for the congregation to affirm the new believers.

brother nolan made the invitation seem as though it were necessary to seal the deal, so to speak, and if you didn't come forward then you were still in jeopardy of hell.

and of course, i would not consider that an accurate expression of the Gospel.

Anonymous said...

"brother nolan made the invitation seem as though it were necessary to seal the deal, so to speak, and if you didn't come forward then you were still in jeopardy of hell."

Has it occured to anyone that this whole show might have been a model kick off for the GCR?

Anonymous said...

"I'm wondering when this debate became an either/or, all or nothing situation?"

In a way it has been that in the past. Most of us raised in the SBC know of no other way than walking an ailse until we grew up and started studying on our own.

Now folks are incensed when we point out this is no where in scripture.

Anonymous said...

I DONT KNOW HOW TO SIGN UP BUT I GOT THIS FROM THE

Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry Vol. 1 No. 1 (Spring 2003
Ken Keathley
Assistant Professor of Theology
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

"The Separate Baptists of the Sandy Creek tradition were giving invitations thirty years before Finney was even born. An eyewitness described the manner in which the “ranting Anabaptists” would conduct services during the great revivals in the Carolinas in the 1760’s:
At the close of the sermon, the minister would come down from the pulpit and while singing a suitable hymn would go around among the brethren shaking hands. The hymn being sung, he would then extend an invitation to such persons as felt themselves poor guilty sinners, and were anxiously inquiring the way of salvation, to come forward and kneel near the stand, or if they preferred, they could kneel at their seats, proffering to unite with them in prayer for their conversion.7
Many may have learned how to give invitations from Finney, but not Baptists."

FROM = William L.Lumpkin, Baptist Foundations in the South (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman, 1961), 56.

GREG ROBERTS
TALLAHASSEE FL

Steve said...

I will confess at the outset that I didn't read every comment, so this might have already been said, but...The public profession of faith IS baptism. Have an altar call, invitation, don't, whatever your church wants to do. But, just so you understand that Jesus' demand for a public profession means baptism. It is, in my doctrinal worldview, one of only two commands we have to follow as Believers. Otherwise known as ordinances, or marching orders. The other of course being communion. It is why I ask each person I'm baptizing while they're in the water, "Who do you profess to be the the Lord and Master of your life." Then I can rightly say, "And now, based upon your profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Master of your life, I baptize you my brother/sister..."

I agree with someone just north of my comment that asked why this had to be an all or nothing proposition. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Just because a few preachers get it wrong, is no reason to abandon a practice that many do find helpful and even spiritual. We don't wash feet, but I wouldn't tell a Primitive he was evil because he does. Food for thought.

New BBC Open Forum said...

"Has it occured to anyone that this whole show might have been a model kick off for the GCR?"

Tweet by Johnny Hunt that evening:

@tonynolanlive has preached passionately,2see others saved @#SBC2010.@GCResurgence is starting as we end.

Rex Ray said...

When I was a boy, my father said Northern Baptist didn’t have alter calls.

I didn’t dream the North has reached Oklahoma.

Doing the math of two per week (attended alter calls before birth 78 years ago), and not counting revivals that would be over 8,000.

A favorite morning song would be “Jesus is calling…” and the evening service might have “Why not tonight…?”

How many that heard those songs had their hearts touched by the Holy Spirit will never be known.

But those days are gone now as there is only one preaching service a week and the invitation is usually a modern ‘pretty’ song about as appealing as Tom’s gorilla suit and water balloons. (I’ll admit that’s an exaggeration.)

And we wonder why baptisms are down.


Thy Peace,
Couldn’t find the blog of Charles Finney, and don’t know where to look for Wade’s post on the effects of the lack of doctrinal preaching.

But thanks for the thought.

RRR said...

Jesus gave invitations. He prescribed acts of obedience as an indication of the sincerity of the person's intent. He told the rich young man, "Go and get rid of all your possessions and follow me." When the young man couldn't bring himself to make that kind of sacrifice he turned and left and Jesus was actually grieved.

That type of Scriptural-based episode defies the logic of those who do not give invitations for people to make decisions and defies the logic of the strong Calvinist. Why in the world would Jesus offer someone the opportunity to be saved and then grieve over their rejection if it was not a matter of their free will to receive or reject?

So, don't ask anyone if they want to be saved. Don't give invitations. But I'll thank God for those Robert Huthcinsons who lead people like me to make decisions to accept God's offer of eternal life and give me the opportunity to respond.

Anonymous said...

Wade,

Maybe I'll ask it a different way since I've asked it twice with no response: In your personal opinion what do you believe it takes for a person to go to Heaven? Could you share your conversion experience if you've already had one? Thanks

Pastor Michael

Anonymous said...

I was reading in Mark 1:17. "Come follow me" sure sounds like an invitation to me.

linda said...

If Baptists are going to leave off invitations (and I mean well done ones, not manipulative ones) will the next step be to stop teaching the need to be born again?

If we do that, really time to go be a three toed tree howler.

Anonymous said...

"invitation" as used in this comment stream is being given two different meaning:

1-- walk down an aisle and say a prayer
2-- "come follow me"

TECHNICALLY, those are both "invitations". But we all know that the first is not the same as the second. The first is something that has come to be seen as the only or preferred or a possible way to be saved. The second is a call to discipleship, and is NOTHING like the first. Let's not get so sloppy.

-- Nobody

Thy Peace said...

In your personal opinion what do you believe it takes for a person to go to Heaven?

Pastor Michael:

It might be better for you to listen to one of Pastor Wade's sermons. A good example is this ...

Series in "I John: The Christian and Complete Joy > #17. An Affair of the Heart (I John 3:19-24).

Anonymous said...

Do you suppose he could just post a bit of text here instead of having people listen to a whole sermon just to answer that simple question? I know I never get tired of the gospel, and I'm sure he doesn't either. ;-)

If these blogs are proof of anything, it's that we don't see the clear, simply, accurate gospel posted often enough. There's only one Way, so how hard can this be?

Anonymous said...

Hi Thy Peace,

Sorry, don't know your name so I'll use the one you provided. I would love to listen to this sermon and will soon, but I'm asking a simple question I've asked 3 times with no response. It's not hard--this is how I was before I met Christ, this is how I met Christ, this is what my life is like now that I know Christ. I'm not sure I understand the reluctance to answer.

Pastor Michael