Tipping “Religious” Cows

I ran across this article by Fred Zaspel the other day.  I am very familiar with the practice that Pastor Zaspel writes about as I was part of many church’s that practice this.  But my views have changed considerably as I have considered the absolute sovereignty of God and the fact that salvation is all of God and not of man.  This article was very welcomed by me in defining and defending my new held beliefs in what is known as “The Alter Call.”

The “Altar Call”
Is it helpful or harmful?

by Fred G. Zaspel
Published by Word of Life Baptist Church, Pottsville, PA

copyright © 1998 All rights reserved
Copying and other reproductions are permitted for non-commercial use only.

Introduction

It would be all but impossible to give an accurate description of the modern evangelical church without mention of the invitation system, or the “altar call,” as it is called. The altar call is a custom in virtually all Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, and Charismatic circles. Immediately following the sermon the congregation will sing a hymn during which the preacher calls men and women to walk to the front of the auditorium (the “altar”) to make a public decision to “accept Christ.” Salvation is offered to all who will but come to the front and take it. Those who come receive the personal attention of a counsellor and are instructed what to pray, and so on. They may be taken to a private “inquiry room,” or they may kneel together at the front of the auditorium and speak together softly while the congregation is singing.

I say this is the custom. Indeed, it is all but universal in the evangelical world, and it is considered to be an essential part of evangelism. In fact, those who do not observe the custom are generally held to be “liberal” or at least “unconcerned” about evangelism. The invitation system is an essential feature of the modern evangelical church.

But in the thirteen years that I have been at Word of Life, there has never been such an altar call. I certainly do not want to leave the impression that those who observe the practice are not our friends, indeed, our brothers in Christ. But our refusal to adopt the prevailing custom makes us stand out as different, and as a result we are sometimes asked to explain “why.” Given that the custom is such a prevailing one today, the question is a fair one. Why do we not observe the altar call at Word of Life Baptist Church?

Where Did It Come From?

What is often shocking to many who use the modern invitation system is that the altar call is just that modern. The practice, although widespread, is a very new phenomenon in the Christian church. For nearly nineteen centuries Continue reading

The Gospel and Moral Laxity

The original article can be found here.

The Gospel & Moral Laxity

1 Corinthians 6:9-20

by Fred G. Zaspel

One of the great lessons we learn from the example of Apostle Paul is the Christocentric or gospel-centered nature of every problem we face. He said as much to the Corinthians: “I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) This was true not just in terms of evangelism, but in terms of his ministry as a whole. He had nothing to say but that which related to Christ crucified; everything worked its way out from there.

This was true in the way he dealt with the problem of divisions, factions in the church. “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?” (1:13). In chapter 3 he emphasized that any ministry which does not build on Christ was worthless. And in chapter 5, when he dealt with the problem of the immoral person in the church, his counsel was to put the man out of the church’s sphere of fellowship. Why? “Because Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (5:7). This demands purity.

Here in chapter 6, Paul continues to deal with the problem of immorality in the church, and his counsel is in the same vein. “No immoral person shall inherit the kingdom of God” (6:9-10). That is to say, there is no room in God’s kingdom for immoral people — only formerly immoral people. “Such were some of you, but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified” (v.11). And from the start Paul deals with the problem from the standpoint of the great cleansing virtues of the gospel. “Such were some of you!”

At once here is both the wonderful, free offer of the gospel and a statement of its effects. Yes, the gospel is good news to fornicators, adulterers, and every kind of sinner. It promises to all who believe, full salvation in Christ. But when God saves a man, He does not leave him in his sin. The Christ who justifies, declares righteous, also cleanses and sanctifies. It is not one or the other. It is both. Put negatively, no man whose life characterized by immorality has a right to claim that he is in Christ. In Christ a man is really saved. The salvation Christ gives is a thorough-going, life transforming work. It is a work that not only changes a man’s destiny — it changes the man!

Now evidently in Corinth some had confused all this. The society around them had so affected them that its vices began to creep into the church.

The Greek philosophies of the age often taught a form of dualism, one emphasis of which was Continue reading

Daily Roundup

Legalism or Obedience? – I have never yet met a parent who complained that his child was a legalist because he obeyed too much.

Chapel Library – Here is a great resource that I found a while back.  Books, sermon audio, instructional courses, you can find it here.

The Gospels Power and Message – While Paul Washer isn’t widely known, his preaching style doesn’t win him over to the hearts and minds of many, he is a man of God and I recommend this book.  Read Tim Challies review at the provided link.

Space, the Final Frontier – Well, not exactly, but I grew up watching Star Trek and I love outer space.  Here are a few images that might explain my fascination.

Religious Liberty Dies at Hobby Lobby – Hopefully this will be overturned, but if it isn’t, will the Green family stand up for what they believe in.  This is a question we as Christians need to think about because there will come a day when we will have to take a stand personally.

Quote:

To reach the holiday of glory, we must pass through the training school of grace.  ~ JC Ryle