So often we hear that in churches today. Without even mentioning the gospel, the pastor says, “raise your hand to come to Jesus right now and join our happy community.” [Yes, I have actually heard that]. It has no more significance than asking for volunteers to clean the church – if the gospel has not been explained properly.
The raising of the hand becomes mundane – like a kid in class asking to go to the toilet - if repentance has not been spelled out. Verses such as: “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me,” (Luke 9:23) must be explained. There is a cost in following Jesus, and anyone who decides to follow Him must understand that.
People must comprehend what they are responding to. As well as repentance, they must hear about the blood, the cross, sin, hell, heaven, baptism. They must know that committing to Jesus is even more serious than saying “I do” to a bride or groom.
If it isn’t like that, the result is “born again” people who really are not. Often they are responding in the emotion of the moment – when nothing is heard but a choir softly singing, and the atmosphere is electric. They might even respond to such a request just because they are lonely - and that isn’t a good enough reason!
Billy Graham used a choir singing as he asked for a response – but he always made the gospel clear first!
We know that a person does not become a mature Christian overnight. It is an ongoing, learning process. Nevertheless if the understanding is not there at the beginning, then the commitment is not there either.
The result of such flippant come-to-Jesus invitations is a church full of members who know nothing of persecution, difficult times and testing by God. They will probably attend simply for the good times of happy, feel-good social interaction.
If the pastor is not going to spell out the gospel, he should have a team of counsellors ready afterward who will do it. He might say: “If you feel God speaking to you tonight, and you don’t know Him as Saviour, talk to one of our counsellors after the meeting.”
The Lord surely wants His people to be people of guts, commitment. The Apostle Paul is an example. People who will take risks for Him, people who understand what it cost Jesus to save them, and who are prepared to make sacrifices in seeing His will be done.
There are too few of such, and it is surely a result of too little thought being applied before shallow altar calls are made.
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Unfortunate and far too true. There's so much "show" going on today. Yes, most unfortunate. "No one comes to the Father lest the Spirit draw him..." "No one comes to the Father except by Me..." All the "shows" in the world aren't going to save souls. The Word must be put forth in truth and wisdom, with no gain. "Woe is me if I do NOT preach the gospel." The shepherds ought to really be trembling. Scary...