Not once in the Bible do you ever see Jesus or one of the Apostles offer an opportunity for someone to accept salvation. Not once do you see Peter in front of the crowd in the book of Acts asking anyone to close their eyes and raise their hand if they want to ask Jesus into their hearts. Not once…
What do we see in scripture? We see Jesus walk up to some fishermen and say “follow me”. We see Peter command the crowd to “repent and believe”. We see Paul being blinded by the glory of Jesus and commanded to repentance. We see Christ as the initiator. In fact even when the rich young ruler approached Jesus to ask what he must do to be saved, Jesus, knowing his heart, told him to sell everything he had and follow. The rich young ruler walked away sad.
Sometimes, those who are seeking an insurance plan stumble upon Jesus. They attempt to fill their life with selfish pursuits, the desire to live for eternity, to follow a path that is outside of their own doing. The countless other things in their life may not have worked out before, maybe they even are experiencing desperate times and have heard that Jesus can solve your problems…. These are the seeds that are choked out and never give root. These are those tares that God allows to grow among the wheat, for the edification and maturation of the body. They seek something greater than themselves, for their own selfish pursuit.
The bible is clear on a few things, though people seek to disagree on many levels.
- God draws those to Himself via the Holy Spirit to Jesus. (John 6:44)
- God grants repentance to those He chooses (2 Tim 2:25)
- God blinds the eyes of men (2 Cor 4:4, John 12:40)
In light of the scripture let’s move into what is known in many churches as an “altar call”. Toward the end of a service in many Evangelical circles, a pastor instructs his congregation to bow their heads and close their eyes. He then asks if anyone felt the calling of God or would like to give their lives to Jesus to raise their hand. He may say “I see your hand there” as a way to acknowledge a person who is raising theirs. In some churches the pastor may just have the person say a prayer right there in their chair, while in others he may have them come up to the front. The people are then ushered off to another room in the church where they are given some paperwork and prayed for. All of this sounds good right?
It may sound good to you because of the way you were brought up in the church. Perhaps your current church uses this method to “win souls” or whatever they may call it. Yet, it presents us with an issue. I won’t deny that this method probably works a percentage of the time. If the Gospel is being proclaimed at that church, there will certainly be people who respond to this calling and submit their lives to Jesus. There may even be more people who attend church for the next couple of weeks. Not only are these methods extra-biblical, but they set the hearers up for defeat.
If you aren’t bold enough to run to the altar in desperation for your sin to be forgiven, were you truly responding to the Gospel in the first place? If you need everyone the room to close their eyes so you aren’t embarrassed to raise your hand, has your heart truly been transformed by the Gospel? Has there been true conviction by the Holy Spirit or were you motivated by a good message that made you feel better than when you had walked in?
I’m reminded of several stories in which the person who heard the Gospel or who had experienced Jesus by way of their faith, could not help but press boldly through the crowd to reach Jesus:
The woman with the blood issue.
The man who was bed ridden whose friends lowered him into the home where Jesus was preaching.
The Roman Centurion.
Even the Ethiopian Eunuch with Phillip, as soon as he had heard the Gospel message desired to be baptized immediately. All of these people were drawn to Jesus and nothing could stop them to reach him. They weren’t timidly approaching Christ, they were BOLDLY approaching the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). They didn’t have to be asked to close their eyes and make a decision, nothing could stop them from touching the hem of His garments.
If our churches rely on a method in which we must emotionally influence our congregation to consider trusting in Christ, we aren’t evangelizing we are manipulating and we make a mockery of the truth of the Gospel.