An Abusive Altar
by Pastor Steve Brown
Master of Divinity, Asbury Seminary
Today the altar call has become a standard and accepted method used by preachers to try to convert people to Christ. There are three serious problems with the altar call. When sinners are taught that by just coming forward and saying the “sinners prayer” they will be saved, it is not scripturally supported. Neither Jesus nor the apostles used such methods. Second, the altar call is being greatly abused by preachers today to get results by manipulating crowds with the false expectation that the altar will somehow save them. Third, the altar is being used as a man inspired method to publically express one’s faith in Christ that subtly replaces the Lord’s command to be baptized in water.
The altar should only be used for people to privately seek God in prayer not as an end in itself. No person can ever be saved just by coming to an altar and saying a rote prayer out loud. This is such a shallow, superfical idea of salvation.
The process of salvation begins with the deep convicting work of the Holy Spirit in a sinner’s heart especially upon hearing the Gospel of Christ. The sinner is awakened by the Spirit and God’s Word so he or she will seek after God till they find Him through faith in Jesus Christ.
But the responsibility for the sinner’s salvation is on his own head. He must seek for God with all his heart thru prayer and Bible study until he finds Him. It is often a tough process a sinner goes through before he gets saved. To repent and give up our old life and face our sins head on is not easy. But a sinner must go through the process from beginning to end and gain enough understanding of the Gospel to truly repent and find saving faith in Christ.
Today there are many false preachers that hinder and even kill the process of salvation and the Spirit’s work by offering a false, quick, fast salvation by the man made method of coming to an altar and saying the magic sinner’s prayer. These preachers are not truly concerned if people are really getting saved. They just want results no matter how they get them, so they can get glory and praise for themselves and the money will flow.
Thousands and thousands of people have been conned into believing they were saved because they came to the altar and said the prayer when in truth they have experienced a false conversion. They did not experience the new birth. The Holy Spirit did not come in their lives and give them a new heart. Why? Because they did not come to Jesus Christ with the proper state of heart: a humble, broken, contrite, repentant heart that calls out to Jesus, convinced that only He and He alone can saved them. Neither did they want to be saved more than anything in the world. Yet these deceived souls are told to just come to the altar as they are and Christ will receive and save them regardless of their state of mind. A bold faced lie. Then they are told to believe they are saved even though they have experienced nothing.
So today in the churches we have multitudes of people who have testimonies of their false conversions where they experienced nothing except maybe an emotional high; made a shallow commitment with a false faith; and were declared saved by the false preacher. An unsaved person with a false conversion becomes a very arrogant and dangerous person to the work of Christ. He becomes a proud, judgmental hypocrite, a tool of Satan, an anti-Christ, that is helping destroy the organized church in America. Of such are the majority of the Pastors and leaders of the churches today. May God have mercy on us!