By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15
I don't know about you but the church I was in as a child had altars. Sunday after Sunday the appeal was made for people to come to the altar. If you were lost you were told to come to the altar and get saved, if you were a Christian you were told to come to the altar and confess any sin you had in your life and God would forgive you.
Many times I saw preachers get way over the edge and make statements such as "If you want to be saved but won't come to the altar then God won't save you. He won't hear your prayer!" Also, I'm sure we all know of appeals that have been made saying that you need to come publicly if you want to be saved.
Now of course there is nothing wrong with coming to Christ publicly if that's what you want to do, but to make "walking and aisle" or "coming to the altar" something necessary before God will save you is just adding another requirement to some peoples idea of salvation.
I think the tradition of the altar is something that can be detrimental. I have seen Christian people suffer under a load of guilt just because they didn't walk an aisle to talk to God but rather talked to Him at their seat.
Some people don't want to come to an altar out of shyness or maybe for some other reason. To make the altar a requirement for salvation is just promoting another form of salvation by works and takes our focus off of what Jesus has done.
In the Bible we find that the word "altar" is a noun that is derived from the Hebrew verb "Zabah", which literally means "To slaughter for food" or "To slaughter for sacrifice."
We must remember that the law is a shadow of things to come. In the Old Testament sacrifices required by the law were made on altars. In the New Testament we have an Altar and His Name is Jesus. Whoever touches this altar (His death, burial and resurrection) is made holy.
When Jesus was sacrificed on the cross the finished work that He performed became our Altar.
The Bible teaches us to,
Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him ... Hebrews 13:9-13
Indeed, let's go forth therefore unto Him.
Paul Rupe has served as associate pastor as well as a number of other positions in his local fellowship. Paul currently is web administrator for Gracespirations Daily Devotion an outreach of Teleo Ministries.
You can visit Paul online at http://teleoministries.blogspot.com
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