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Joined: 2003/7/4
Posts: 129

 The Altar call

Recently been doing some studying on the use of the altar call in church services. I came to realize that the practice is just a bit more than a 100 years old and something that was instituted by Finney originally. It never dawned on me that for the previous 18 centuries they (christendom)never practiced it. It was the message itself that brought people to the point of conviction and therefore repentance!!!!......can you imagine the powerful preaching that could exist if this was the goal of every preacher of the Word....If you really needed to refer to an altar call did the message really prompt the listener to the place of conviction and repentance?
I have presented this to some friends and there first thought is is "well, how would people know how to get saved, or even when?" My answer was that if the message did not pierce the heart of the listener, either the messenger failed to be that vessel for the Lord or the listener may not be at that place of sincerity....what it comes down to is having the boldness and the faith that it is the Spirit of God that delivers men to repentance and not the man made altar call. I could sign a thousand cards, voice a thousand salvation prayers and still not be saved. For some reason man clings to the tangible experiences ....but its all about the heart...its all about the heart.....

 2004/4/20 8:48Profile

Joined: 2004/4/19
Posts: 12

 Re: The Altar call

I completely agree with you my friend. Finney had great intensions and all we can do now is learn from his mistakes. When all the scriptures about salvation are pieced together, we find truth.

 2004/4/20 9:57Profile

Joined: 2004/2/29
Posts: 34


I see your concern with altar calls. I think that if done the wrong way they can be harmful. However, i think there is a time and a place for them. I believe that people need to know that there is some kind of response neccessary to the gospel message or any sermon. And if a preacher has a message from the heart of God he knows that there are people in the church who need to hear it and respond to it. It puts a fork in the road and tells people that there is a decision to be made. It is a time to come foward and make a public confession of Christ, or a time to commune with God. Many altar calls have nothing to do with receiving Christ for salvation, but are just times for people to come foward who need prayer.

The sermon is meant to draw people to the throne of grace, to God himself. Thats why i believe that times of prayer, confession, worship and comunion with God are so important to do after a sermon. "My house shall be called a house of prayer"

Altar call times, or times of extended worship and prayer are also times in which the Holy Spirit can move in peoples lives and bring about spiritual breakthroughs. There is no one in charge, no specific order or program of what will happen next and the Holy Spirit will manifest. I love the way Jim Cymbala often ends his meetings, and I see nothing wrong with the altar calls he(as well as many others) give.

There is a danger in the altar call though. It can become routine, part of the program, just as programmed as anything else. It can also give a false sense of security to people who come foward for salvation who are not repentant. However, this is the responsibility of the preacher. He must make his message clear, preaching the heart of God, and he must let the Holy Spirit truly lead.

Those are my thoughts.

-Jake Kail

Jake Kail

 2004/4/20 14:09Profile

Joined: 2003/12/8
Posts: 65
Manitoba, Canada

 Re: finney mistake's

I think its been posted elsewhere on this site how radically the 'alter call' has changed in the last 100 years. What Finney had was an inquirers bench where every person was dealt with personally. I myself do not agree or like the way MOST altar calls are carried out, however, that does not mean that the idea of an Altar call is wrong, as Jane Kail said it presents a fork in the road for the person, and a place for a public confession of Christ.


 2004/4/20 23:25Profile

Joined: 2003/7/4
Posts: 129

 Re: altar call

Please forgive me if I gave the impression that Altar calls are wrong...It amazed me that there really was,nt any for the first 18 centuries of christianity. I try and place myself in those first century chuches and imagine the power of the messages that would leave me no alternative but to bring me to that cross road of salvation.
And then I wonder, for over the last 100+ years how many have gone and said the sinners prayer or rather signed a prayer card and thought that without true heartfelt repentance that was all there was to being saved....hmmmmm....

 2004/4/22 17:20Profile

Joined: 2004/3/28
Posts: 354


Ideally, we should preach with such an annointing from God that the sinners give their [b]own[/b] altar call, like at Pentecost.

I've no problem with Finney's method, particularly combined with how he preached. Others have so gotten away from good preaching, though, that the altar call loses almost all effectiveness.

 2004/4/22 19:04Profile

Joined: 2002/12/11
Posts: 37099
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11


Ideally, we should preach with such an annointing from God that the sinners give their own altar call, like at Pentecost

Amen Brother Keith, In preaching of men like John Wesley people would be so awe struck at the holiness of God and there sinfullness and God would deal with their hearts where they were standing. Many would even fall uncouncous under the extreme greif of their sinfulness. Another amazing men of God Charles Spurgeon used to invite people into the back rooms to pray, then after some counsel they would be sent away and told to come back in the morning to meet spurgeon if they were still anxious for their souls. What a contrast between that and the modern day quick altar call and then 10 minutes later talking the trivia of the world.

SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2004/4/22 21:52Profile

Joined: 2004/2/11
Posts: 60

 Re: The Altar call

Hmm... Good points. I still like them, myself. In a time where so much culture is saying, "Do your own thing. Do what feels good and comes naturally, because that's what's right, to you," I think the altar call sort of cuts through the vagueness of it all and presents a clear decision, a clear opportunity for a convicted person to change.

That's not to say that the formula we have now is always the best way to do it. I have never known God to be formulaic about anything.

 2004/4/22 23:37Profile

Joined: 2003/6/13
Posts: 49

 Re: The Altar call

I don't see that the problem is with the invitation, but with the gospel presentation. To be sure, the "sinners prayer" is found no where in scripture, however, offering an opportunity for the repentant to come forward and identify with Christ in baptism, straightaway, seems like a sound idea,scripturally speaking.
Might I suggest the book, "The Invitation", by Dr. R. Alan Streett, professor of evangelism at Criswell Bible College. I found it to be very sound, and very helpful.


 2004/4/24 21:00Profile

Joined: 2004/3/2
Posts: 23
Eindhoven, The Netherlands

 Is there a book or article on the altercall history?

I heard Leonard Ravenhill speak about this item very often in his sermons.

My question is: Is there a book or an article on the altar call history?
Not only when it started, but also when there was no alter call at all.



 2004/4/26 3:25Profile

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