Heads Bowed,Eyes Closed.

Imagine this solemn scene:

After Jesus preached the sermon on the Mount he invites his listeners to come to the front.

Peter at the end of his Pentecostal sermon has seekers raise their hands as a sign of interest in Christ.

Paul says,”Every head bowed,every eye closed,no one looking around” as Silas quietly sang,Almost persuaded at the end of  Paul’s sermon in Philipi

As followers of Christ we are to “compel them to come in.”The spoken invitation to come to Christ is a part of gospel preaching.Peter called for repentance and faith in his sermon…but there is nothing sacred about getting people to occupy a certain physical place at the front of a building.”Jim Elliff writes,By not giving an alter call I haven’t kept them from coming to Christ.Rather I am offering them Christ without anything in between.I want nothing between their soul and the reality of Christ’s offer.To put something in between is practical sacramentalism.”

Very often I hear about a “sinners prayer.”One verse that is used is found in Luke.18:13b.God be merciful to me a sinner.

Take a closer look at this prayer”Luke.18:10-14.

The Pharisee was a good moral man.The Publican was an outcast.

The Pharisee trusted in his good works.He was proud.He could not see the blackness of his own sin.

V.13.The Publican,standing afar off(outside the Temple)would not lift up so much as his eyes

unto heaven(he is looking down at the ground.He can identify with that),but smote his breast(he is contrite,broken,humble,repentant)saying,God(thats the first word he spoke)be merciful to me a(the)sinner.

This “sinners”prayer was not just a verbal response that someone evoked out of him so that he could go to heaven when he died.

What did he mean when he prayed,God be merciful to me a sinner?

He is standing outside of the Temple.But he knows that inside that Temple is a “mercy”seat.Somehow he understood that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin and that the blood on that Mercy Seat would satisfy a Holy God and turn His wraft away from broken,contrite,repentant sinners and they would receive his MERCY..God not giving sinners what we deserve(His wraft) but bestowing on beleiving sinners grace which we do not deserve.God is SATISFIED with the sacrifice of His Son.

In the “sinners”prayer he is voicing his sinfulness and pleading for God’s mercy.

The Publican went home justified.v.14.The Pharisee went home dignified..but still lost in sin.

Contrast this “sinners”prayer with the typical “sinners”prayer of today.

Jim Elliff writes,the sinners prayer of today has three elements.

1.A mere acknowledgment of sin,which is not the same as repentance.

2.A belief in the act of Christ’s death,which is far removed from trust in his person and work. 

3.An “inviting Christ into the life.”The last phrase hangs on nothing biblical(though John 1:12 and Rev.3:20 are used,out of context,for its basis.)It is considered,nonetheless,to be the pivitol and necessary instrument for becoming  a true Christian.But God commands us to repentingly believe,not to invite Christ into the life.

Even though there is no precedent or command regarding an alter “call”as it is given today or a command to pray a “sinners”prayer,Many pastors continue to coerce,brow-beat,manipulate and embarras sinners to walk an aisle,pray a prayer,and in so doing too many are made a two-fold child of hell and remain confused(but are given a false assurance of salvation)instead of trusting in the finished work of Christ alone.

No wonder our churches are filled with unregenerate members who seldom give a thought to God or his church.They are assured that all is well because they prayed a prayer and we call them inactive members or back-slidders and yet the Bible refers to them as sinners with hard hearts,shallow hearts and crowded hearts,(see Matt.13;Mark.4:Luke.8.)There is no fruit in their lives and therefore no root.

What a price we are paying in our churches today because of such “shallow” evangelism.

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2 Comments on “Heads Bowed,Eyes Closed.”


  1. Excellent commentary and analysis. Having grown up in a churchewith high-pressure altar calls, I can fully relate.

    I have found it refreshing and reassuring to be a member of a church in which the pastor offers to meet personally with people interested in (or being led to) a saving relationship with Christ, during which he fully explains the need for belief, repentence, and trust involved in true salvation.

  2. chadwick Says:

    hottub,

    Right on target!

    c


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