Jan 272015
 

 

Calvin's Corner headerPastor Michael Newnham and Phil Naessens “Deflate Gate” and the guys answer a listeners question about “Sinners Prayers” “Altar Calls” and whether either is even Biblical and the guys agree that Systematic Theology by Charles Finney isn’t very good theology.

  64 Responses to “Calvins Corner”

  1. 1.) The kicking team uses separate balls.

  2. 2.) Calvinists do altar calls in the South. Its just a part of church. I guess they recognize that if God is Sovereign he can even save through an Altar Call.

  3. 3.) You’ve attributed some pretty rotten motives to the thousands and thousands of us who do altar calls. I’m sure you are correct in your assessment in a few cases, but incorrect in multiple thousands of others.

    4.) I wasn’t aware Finney had a Systematic Theology? I read his “Revivals” book. He was certainly off the rails in many ways, but probably not as deserving of scorn as the New Calvinists have suggested.

  4. If you are going to do altar calls, you had best first get an altar in your church. 😉

    Doesn’t it seem strange, when you call people to the altar (hence altar CALL) that these folks have nowhere to go?

  5. Michael cleared up the Altar Call stuff a bit at the 20 minute mark. Said its not harmful. I appreciate that. Mostly agree with the discussion on Baptism.

  6. MLD – I was using Altar because it was used over and over in the podcast. We would call it the “Invitation”.

  7. Interesting sidenote – The first Sinner’s prayer published in English was written by William Tyndale around 1520. I wonder why Tyndale doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other figures from the Reformation era.

  8. Actually, I must admit unashamedly my church does an altar call at every service. We call it communion. We don’t do invitations, we leave that to the word of God.

  9. Peter gave an Invitation in Acts 2.

  10. More importantly, Jesus gives an invitation.

  11. Josh,
    Peter preached the word and offered no invitation – the people had the natural response to the word …cut to the heart and baptism. No 11 times playing the same chorus from Just as I am, no pleading with people to respond – no telling the people that the buses will wait for them

    You know i am baiting you… right? 😉

  12. I must admit unashamedly my church does an altar call at every service. We call it communion
    —————————————————
    And all can come who will repent of their evangelicalism and embrace Lutheranism

  13. I know you are baiting, you are just easily proven wrong 🙂 Look at Acts 2:37-41 . You are right that the people were cut to the heart by The Word. Then Peter gave them the opportunity to respond. That is what we would call the invitation.

  14. I watched an altar call the other night from a CC “special event”.
    It’s not something I want to see again…

  15. Steve,
    “And all can come who will repent of their evangelicalism and embrace Lutheranism”

    That is called salvation – it is written about throughout the Bible 🙂

  16. Josh, I guess if i ever see an invitation where the word is preached and the people respond with “what shall we do” … then an invitation is given in response to their question, I will believe you.

    However what I saw in my 25 yrs of CC & SBC – was giving the word, then cajoling the people to respond to the word – so the people end up responding to the preacher, not necessarily the preached word … or to Crystal Lewis’s continual rendition of “Come Just as You Are”

  17. Do you think all 3000 people individually asked “What shall we do?” or do you think it was, to some degree, implied?

    My guess would be that if there weren’t at least an unspoken question, there would be no reason to respond.

  18. “However what I saw in my 25 yrs of CC & SBC – was giving the word, then cajoling the people to respond to the word – so the people end up responding to the preacher, not necessarily the preached word … or to Crystal Lewis’s continual rendition of “Come Just as You Are””

    Exactly.

  19. MLD and I have been agreeing a lot lately..must be some strange astrological configuration… 🙂

  20. Is it the blood moons? 😀

  21. Nonnie,

    That must be it…another sign of the apocalypse! 🙂

  22. Question – Do you guys oppose leading someone in a so-called sinner’s prayer, in a one-on-one evangelistic moment? Put another way, how do you lead someone to Christ (when you do)

  23. Preach the gospel.
    Steve you tell your story of reading the Bible and becoming a believer – did someone need to do an additional step or two – lead you in a prayer etc – to get you saved?

    Did you go search someone out to then lead you in the sinner’s prayer.

    I realized I was a Christian after 2 weeks at CC Riverside during the middle of the week at home. that Sunday, I did not go forward for the altar call because i figured I was already saved.

  24. Steve,

    It’s simple.
    The bible says believe and confess…and if someone confesses that Christ has saved them and Jesus is Lord, we may pray together but the heavy lifting is already done by God.

  25. “but the heavy lifting is already done by God.”

    I think we would all agree on that.

  26. Well…I trust it is understood that with the question coming from me, I am not somehow deluded into thinking the person is not saved until they say “Amen” after the prayer.

    Someone says “I want to pray and receive Christ today” – I know what I say and how I respond (and I’ve shared it here before)

    My question is how do you all.

  27. Where would someone get the idea to pray and receive? Why is it not just they hear and believe? Have you pre programed it in to people that there is a middle step?

  28. Believing and receiving are equated in John’s prologue. People cried out to Jesus when He was face to face with them on the earth, Lord, save me a sinner. Not too much of a stretch, after they believe He is alive today to want to do the same.

    So MLD has answered by saying he would start an argument with someone who poses the question I cited…anyone else?

  29. I wouldn’t argue, I would say,”do you believe?” – If they say yes, then I would say “you have already received” – if they say no, I would just preach what I have already preached.
    I usually finish up and ask “hey, does that make sense?”

    I don’t know how someone could want to receive without having already received.

  30. Oh, and you may have missed something in your John reference when Jesus was face to face on the earth – and the state of salvation, vs now after the cross salvation presently provided.

  31. Steve,

    This just points out differences in the ordo salutis.

    If God has regenerated a sinners heart and given them faith to believe through the hearing of the Gospel, then they confess that Jesus is Lord and begin their new life in Christ.

    I congratulate them on knowing that the Lord accepted them…

  32. A sinners prayer can be a useful ritual…but that’s all it is.

  33. I’m not disagreeing with anyone here.

  34. Steve,

    I usually use the “Romans Road” Romans 3:10-12, 23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9-13 and then I pray for/with them

    Thanks for listening everyone!

  35. Phil, that’s a joke, right?

  36. A couple years ago I met a young man who was afraid to come to worship at church.

    He shared with me
    “I’ve been saved at least 10 times already and I keep blowing it so I’m embarrassed to go back to church now”

    Nothing against altar calls but we do a great disservice to Gods people if we only tell them that they are saved simply by coming forward to the altar or if they recited a sinners prayer. Its critical that God’s people understand that regeneration is not an altar call, but a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit. This new birth only occurs once not again at every altar call. We also must never forget that saving faith is always accompanied by repentance and obedience.

    By the way that young man is now a young Timothy.
    Peace

  37. I remember sitting in a “welcome to the family” class at a church I was joining. You would attend this class for a few weeks each Sunday to learn about the doctrine of the church. At the end you would explain the moment you were saved. (You were not required to be “saved” to join, but most confessed to this “born again” moment.)

    Some would describe an exact point in time, some with very interesting stories of the change at that moment. Some would say it happened gradually over a period of time. I found the latter reassuring, because I could not put my finger on a specific moment in time when I thought I was saved, although I thought that had occurred at a particular time in my life.

    As I recall, no one said it occurred at an alter call, but then it was a small class. 🙂

  38. Born again: October 23, 1978 @ 7:30 PM.

    This was the evening that a free movie had been posted on a lamp post on a community college campus. It was my first semester. Didn’t have anything to do, so thought I might check out the movie. Prior to this, since about 14 years old, there had been numerous times that this or that person would talk to me about the Bible and Jesus. Even had a Bible that I might crack open from one moment to the next. But was never asked, nor was it suggested that I needed to ask or to invite or even confess that I believed in Jesus. Instead, I went on trying on other types of religions, including some things related to astrology, the occult, and eastern mysticism. On two occasions, I bought up on a couple of invitations to attend individual friend’s protestant church services, which I found rather interesting and quite different from those experienced as a child and teen-ager attending Mass and Catechism and parochial school. Nice people. The two Protestant churches both gave altar call and the second, I felt this tug, but I resisted as I believed it was more of feeling pressured into something than my own heart being sold out to something I was certain that if I did, it wouldn’t turn out well. I mean. God was good and all of that, but my life experience with church folks was pretty much that of people putting on their Sunday best, then upon taking that first step out the door after services, the would pick up that drink, and have the foulest mouth while talking bad about others and yelling at their wives and wondering why their kids behaved the way they did.

    Well, the eve of that decision to take a free movie, things were different. It wasn’t out of desperation or want or need of anything, as my life was falling together and things were good. Broke, yes, but in school, as a single parent and working hard to create a future for us. That was enough for me. I just figure going to a church showing a free movie would be a great way to get out without having to pay the expense of childcare and take in a movie.

    If it hadn’t been for that altar call, I think it would have been years longer before coming face to face with Jesus. For me, it was a decision that I made. For me, it had to be thing way, God knew. That is, I’m the type of person who does count the cost and unless I had done this publicly, then it would not have meant much. That evening, my heart had been broken and without a doubt it was the Holy Spirit that lifted me out of my seat and led me to His altar. My life was His from that moment forth—sold out, sealed, and delivered. No turning back, no matter the cost—-and it has been quite heart rendering at times, as some have here have been made privy to a tip of that ice berg.

    For me an altar call was in God’s plan for me. I answered that call and within 24 hours there was evidence that reflected not just my having been changed, but in the way I viewed things and this never-ending desire to study His Word, as well as, a few things concerning my behavior and conduct. One thing I realized is that I had a voice and that I had the ability to make good choices and that I was deeply loved by at least one person in the world—-His name, Jesus.

    By the way, my conversion experience at zip to do with who was giving the message. That moment, I stepped forth, I knew it was God and I knew He and I were coming to terms with one another. I knew that I was falling in His arms in complete surrender the love, the mercy, and the grace that He, alone had been whispering in my ear for a long, time, but now was it was me that was ready to be led by His hand to embrace Him.

    Nevertheless, church and the person who provide the movie and gave out the message was used by God to enable me to listen to some things that for whatever reason was not able to hear or refuse to hear or never was told prior to that evening, that hour, and that moment of being Born Again by the Holy Spirit into His Church as one of His own.

  39. ” I answered that call and within 24 hours there was evidence that reflected not just my Heart having been changed . . . ”

    There is a huge difference in saying, “I believe,” but still sowing to the flesh vs. “I believe” so much that I am convinced, committed, sold out to do it His way, not mine, and to walk in obedience, totally ridding myself of all that brings shame, dishonor, to that which is Holy in His sight. My heart simply no longer wanted to or strive after or hungered or that which was once a part of me before He came into my heart, into my being, into my mind to do.

  40. By the way, there was the sinner’s prayer being said by the person who gave out the message. Poor Pastor, I think he didn’t know what to do with me. As I had walked up to the altar, and went I entered in to that area, I immediately fell to my knees, bawling like a child, tears profusely pouring down my cheeks. The Pastor asked a couple of people to come to my side, but I had said or tried to say, because I continue to cry, that I was okay and that this was between God and me, so not to be concern.

    Afterward, an Assistance Pastor gave me Haley’s Handbook on the Bible. Years went by and I had left that church due to scheduling and various career moves, This Assistant Pastor had gone back East for awhile, I heard. Then as providence would have it, having to do with my immediate situation, I heard he was back at this church. I made an appointment to speak with him. He remembered me well and I had mentioned the book he gave me. He told me that of all the individuals that he has witnessed coming forth during an altar call—he knew that this one (meaning me) conversion was as Spirit (Holy Spirit) led as one could ever be. Being so, he did what he could to provoke a repentant response in the person who chose to do me harm, but then that person also bored a false witness towards this pastor as well. Of course, I made it known to this person’s Pastor and his therapist, to set the record straight. Nevertheless, it was good for me to have this Asst. Pastor to step up to the plate to defend and to affirm me, and to speak to my character, in a time of much undoing while initially becoming homeless and being furthered victimized.

  41. Francisco Nunez

    “We also must never forget that saving faith is always accompanied by repentance and obedience. ”

    This is the purpose of sharing my own conversion experience and baring witness to the “repentance and obedience” essential of being born again as part and parcel of a saving faith.

  42. I too remember that big day of decision … but it was Jesus choosing me – not me choosing Jesus. 🙂

    It’s like when a baby is baptized and God reaches down through the parties involved and says “this one is mine.”

  43. “I’ve been saved at least 10 times already and I keep blowing it so I’m embarrassed to go back to church now”<<<

    We had a thread about this very topic on the EO discussion forum. People who used to attend churches that preached OSAS confessed that they were very anxious about their salvation which they felt was based on their sincerity of belief, based on words from the pulpit that "if they were really sincere…" they were saved, and like me, they were horrified at the thought that their eternal salvation was based on their own sincerity. Again, like me, now that they no longer attend a OSAS church, they feel secure.

    People will say that in my case, I must have heard bad preaching but the participants in that thread were of all ages, from all across the US map. One woman said she was so anxious she was baptized 2x before she was 14.

    People think this "blessed assurance" doctrine is comforting. For many people, it is not.

    You combine:

    1. Altar-call conversions, where the person is moved by emotion with no instruction as to what it means to be a Christian;
    2. The teaching that if you say that prayer with sincerity, you are saved for life….
    3. …. no matter what else you do in life, even if you completely abandon the faith.

    This practice lends itself to:

    1. False conversions
    2. Anxious converts
    3. People who may or not be saved but feel they can do whatever they like because Jesus their buddy has their back

  44. Francisco and Xenia have pretty much outlined my concerns with altar calls.
    Linda proves that my concerns aren’t always concerns to God…

  45. OSAS and the Calvinist version of Perseverance offer no security or comfort at all. Everyone in those camps must deal with the ‘christian’ who falls away. The normal answer is “well they were never saved.” But the reply back is, “they looked saved and they made all the right confessions and they as much as anyone can tell lived a holy life.”

    “Well, they were never saved”. But when you ask the “saved” OSAS or perseverance guys how they know they are saved, they all look within themselves and say, “well, I see my changed life, I have made all the proper confessions etc.’

    So I follow up and remind them, so did the “falsies” – how do you know you are not one of them, who has not yet come to the realization that you really don’t believe?

    I usually get the answer, “Well, I just do.”

  46. I would like to say that the Lord is in the business of saving people and He can and does use many means, even the altar call.

    Just for educational purposes, there is the typical way an adult convert to Christianity (or from another form of Christianity) is received into the Orthodox Church:

    1, The observer stage. The person, for whatever reason, has become curious about Christianity and attends a church service or chats with another Christian.
    2. They are drawn to God and more actively inquire. This is the Inquirer stage.
    3. They commit to becoming a Christian and are numbered among the catechumens where they receive months of instruction. This is the catechumen stage.
    4. When all agree they are ready, they are baptized. Now they are numbered among the faithful and can receive Communion.

    People can zip through these stages pretty quickly, depending on their background and the inclinations of the priest. Or, if the person wrestles with certain concepts, it can take years. There are cases of pagan Roman soldiers who, upon witnessing a heroic martyric death of a Christian, confess Christ on the spot (“I too am a Christian!”) and lose their own heads as a result. I am not saying that a person can’t call upon the name of the Lord and be instantly saved but if their is no emergency, it’s good for an inquirer to be taught what Christianity is all about before they take the plunge into the waters of baptism.

    To anticipate the question “what if a catechumen is hit by a bus and dies before baptism” the answer is “God knows” but just in case, catechumens receive special prayers and blessings to “help them and keep them by thy Grace.”

  47. One of the minor (IMHO) distinctions among Christian faiths is the issue of baptism. A local church believes that, as soon as you are saved — see discussion above for a definition of that event — you should run, don’t walk to the baptism font just in case you are run over by a bus before you have a chance to complete the “deal.”

    My church (Evangelical Free) states that baptism is a symbol of your dedication to Christ like a wedding ring, but not essential. So don’t worry about the bus. (Or as Xenia says, “God knows.”)

    Again, I consider this one of the smallest distinctions in doctrine. My pastor once told me that, “for those that believe in the need for immediate baptism, it isn’t a SMALL distinction.”

    I’ve got so much to learn. 🙂 But then that’s why I’m here.

  48. But when you ask the “saved” OSAS or perseverance guys how they know they are saved, they all look within themselves and say, “well, I see my changed life, I have made all the proper confessions etc.’
    ———————————————————
    One of the very tiring things about this community (and MLD is not the only offender) is when people speak for a point of view they do not personally hold, and express a false statement, or at best, an anecdotal statement that those holding the view would also reject.

    So one takes the time to explain what actually those holding the view believe, and bring out the relevant Scriptures, and then a few weeks later the same canard is expressed.

    Maybe this is the only expected fruit possible from Christians slandering other Christian denominations and traditions they do not personally agree with.

    Make your own application.

  49. Steve, even you have said in the past that you have the witness of the spirit in you. That may be true and in fact I do not deny that – my point was that the “falsies” said the same thing at points in their life and they actually believed it… but were obviously deceived. So how does a OSAS guy know that at his present state that he also isn’t deceived and hasn’t realized it yet?

  50. The same as you or anyone else. By faith.

  51. Josh, I don’t look to anything within myself, that is a fools venture – I only believe the external word – those promises made by Jesus which are outside of me … which makes me a believer. But when i stop believing those promises, I put my salvation at risk.

    So, I have no problem saying that those who fall away were believers who stopped believing (we are not talking doubts or journeys away for a time – but those who stop believing and denounce the belief.)

    But OSASers are stuck in explaining fallen Christians.and how they know they won’t end up the same way – with a shipwrecked faith.

  52. Total semantics. You believe that you are saved, and you don’t believe you will ever be unsaved. Me too. By Faith.

    We have differing explanations for those who used to hang around but no longer do,

  53. No, because those who once thought they were saved and fell away … saved at one time or not?

    I say yes it’s possible – and here is the nut of the conversation OSAS say no. Do you agree?

  54. “You believe that you are saved, and you don’t believe you will ever be unsaved.”

    I don’t believe I will be unsaved as long as I believe – if i stop believing, I may be in jeopardy.

    Usually (I will qualify) that is not the OSAS position – which says you were never saved, or if you were and stop believing you are still saved.

  55. It is all hypothetical and un-knowable by humans. My answer, based on my understanding of scripture, is the Jesus is not going to lose any of His children.

    I will not fall away, because I am kept by Him, not by any act of my own will. If it were up to me, I would have fallen away long ago.

    However, If there comes a time when I no longer believe, I would have to say that I was never truly saved.

    The non OSAS folks have trouble explaining why eternal life is actually temporary.

  56. “However, If there comes a time when I no longer believe, I would have to say that I was never truly saved.”

    Why can’t you say “even if I do stop believing, Jesus will not lose any of his own and I am still saved. – and my buddy over there who was once saved but has now totally denied the faith strongly, he too is still protected as one of Jesus’ own.” – that my friend would be actuall OSAS – still with Jesus no matter what i do with the faith.

  57. There is no salvation apart from belief.

  58. Now, how do you get the idea that Eternal life is only temporary?

  59. Actually, Steve is Wright (: We’ve been though this a bunch of times. No need to answer.

  60. “There is no salvation apart from belief.” – this is true

    My original statement was about the question that there is no security for the OSAS crowd – which you have even said, if you stop believing you were never saved – well how can you believe and NOT be saved?

    I would think Jesus would transcend our belief after, as you posed it, having been given eternal life. or, perhaps one never knows if they have had the right belief to have eternal salvation.

    I don’t think you can lose it – you give it up. I think guys like Bart Ehrman are perfect examples of this. There is no evidence he was not saved by Jesus at one point in time.

  61. Assurance for the OSAS crowd – I am saved and will never be un-saved. I prefaced my #56 with it is all hypothetical. It would not actually happen.

    No one who knows the Jesus I know would ever “give it up”.

  62. # 62 agree, and would add, now being filled the Holy Spirit be compelled to sow to the Spirit and not to the flesh. Sin becomes that which is hated, rather than excused or minimized, or covered up and good works are no longer seen as being under the law, but rather that which is working in you due to a changed heart wrought by the Holy Spirit due to the gift received through faith by His grace, lest anyone should boast. For to boast of any good works now would not be of the Spirit, but that which is solely of the flesh.

  63. But why sin in the first place after you know Jesus?
    Every sin breaks the 1 st commandment as you place yourself ahead of God – when you say “I would rather have my way God!”

    If people new the Jesus I know, they would not sin… but they do – just like they “give it up”

    simul justus et peccator.

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