The quick and simple answer is “probably not.” But we should also keep in mind that we are invited to respond to Jesus Christ for salvation. salvation is an invitation (Matthew 11:28).
While altar calls are not sinful to implement in the local church or for other special occasions, they should not be a regular practice in the local church for the following reasons:
- The altar call is completely absent from the pages of the N.T. You will not find it anywhere. There are “calls” to salvation but never are there any “calls” to come forward in the middle or at the end of a service to the altar of God’s house. The altar call is a foreign concept to the N.T.
- The altar call is historically absent in church history until the 19th century when Charles Finney began implementing it during his evangelistic crusades. On top of that, Finney was known as a man-centered theologian who endorsed any form of manipulative methodology to entice people to respond to his sermons.
- There can be some confusion about what it means to “come to Christ.” Unfortunately, some will equate coming forward for an altar call as the equivalent of coming to Christ for salvation. They are not one and the same. An altar call is a physical invitation to come and accept Christ but it is not salvific in any sense. The test of one’s salvation is not whether they came forward or not but whether they are actively bearing fruit in their life (John 15:8).
- Altar calls can be based on emotional manipulation and not biblical conviction. The content hardly is the emphasis in an altar call but the atmosphere, the peer pressure, the music or the lighting in the auditorium is.
- Altar calls tempt pastors or churches to evaluate their success or fruit by the results of altar calls and not on the bearing fruit of their congregation or the faithfulness to obeying the Scripture. Numbers of people who come forward can become the determinant to whether a church is being blessed by God.
In conclusion, is an altar call allowable? Sure – it can be with certain precautions as discussed above. And while altar calls are not in the Bible, the invitation to come to Christ and the Bible is not silent about how to make our profession of faith public. It begins with an admission of guilt (Ps 25:11), continues with a sincere desire to repent of that sin which makes him guilty (Acts 3:19), and then ends with a rendering Jesus as Lord of one’s life (Rom 10:9).
The Bible says today is the day of salvation (II Cor 6:2) and it can be for you if you come to Him in humble repentance, ask for forgiveness of sins, believe His death on the cross can atone for your sin and embrace Him as Lord.
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