The altar call is a relatively new development in Christianity. It was popularized by Billy Graham (the evangelist, not the wrestler). On its face it may seem like a good thing. You’ve all heard the preachers before, I’m sure. At the end of the sermon, they say something along the lines of, “If you’re ready to give your life to Jesus, why don’t you come up here and pray with us to ask Jesus into your heart.” Sure, it sounds sweet and like a noble gesture, but there’s really no biblical grounds for it. In fact, the altar call predicates that there is something you must do to be saved. You must invite him to save you. That actually diminishes the gospel. It essentially claims that Jesus can’t save you without your help. In a way, it’s a direct contradiction to scripture effectively denying that Jesus does it all for you.
So then, what does the altar call do to the body of Christ? My friends, it is my whole belief that the altar call can only bring despair when it brings anything at all. It cannot bring someone to faith. It may affirm someone’s faith that they already have, but never grant it. And for the rest it can only bring despair. In fact, the altar call is what nearly drove me away from Christianity. Dropping to my knees week after week of inviting Christ into my life, asking him to change me, and nothing happened. “If you are sincere,” they say, “he will change you.” Nope. Not true. I was totally sincere as were countless others. This cycle leads to despair, wondering what you are doing wrong. I learned that there was one thing I was doing wrong. I was believing there was something I had to do or something that I could do.
When I was on the verge of giving up Christianity and declaring it all bunk, someone shared with me a link to a new radio program that was just starting. From there, I learned the true gospel. I learned that there was nothing I could do. I learned that it was all Christ. And that was an enormous weight off of my shoulders. My friends, Christ has done it all. There is nothing you can do. Rejoice in that, because if you have to accept, invite, or do anything else for Jesus, then you’d fail and that’s not gospel at all.