- Jim Townsley
- Mar 1, 2012
Once the sermon is given and the plea is made for souls to respond, this is a golden opportunity for souls to make a decision. For many years fundamental churches end the sermon with a call for souls to come to the front and receive Christ or to rededicate their life. Often it is referred to as an "altar call." People respond to the sermon by coming forward to the altar, sometimes called the mourners bench, or merely the front pew or front step of the platform. Men and women, boys and girls are responding reverently to the conviction of the Holy Spirit by praying and making decisions to obey the Lord. A personal worker or the preacher himself usually will meet them at the front to give biblical counsel and help those responding to understand the decision they are making. In this manner a lost person can make a decision to be saved and a saved person can rededicate his life.
I realize no one has to come forward to the altar in order to be saved. People can be saved at home, at work, or anywhere the Spirit of God convicts and draws a man. Salvation doesn't have to occur at the church altar. However, souls can be saved at the conclusion of the sermon at the house of God. When a clear presentation of the gospel is given, an opportunity should be afforded to respond to the message by making a decision. No preacher should be guilty of failing to give people an invitation to respond to the Word of God. Some people may have made decisions in their home or at work and they wish to make them public. Their public response will be greeted with excitement and joy by the members of the congregation. Nothing is more exciting than to hear the testimonies of new converts responding to the invitation and openly declaring their commitment before the entire church.
There will be times in a new church where it seems there are few decisions being made and the tendency might be to discontinue giving an invitation. Even when no one responds outwardly there are several important reasons why the invitation should be extended after every sermon. Here are some reasons why an invitation should always be given:
1. The invitation gives people under conviction the opportunity to respond and be saved.
2. Backsliders may come under conviction and seek restoration.
3. Members will always know if they bring an unsaved friend they can count on an opportunity to be given for their friend to respond.
4. The public invitation reminds the church members of the importance of making a decision.
5. When decisions are made it challenges others who may need to make decisions.
6. The whole church is blessed by the conversion of souls.
There are times other than church services when an invitation should be given: During a Bible study, a Sunday school class, a youth meeting, Vacation Bible School, a funeral, and perhaps even a wedding.
Consider the impact upon the church if no invitation is ever given. The result is no one is pressed to make a decision and thus may never make a decision. When one is confronted with a decision it causes them to make a choice. Exo 32:26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. In addition, the Bible indicates if we are not for Him we are against Him. We cannot serve God and mammon. We must not be like a flag in the wind that bends to whichever way the wind blows. It is important that new believers learn to make a decision for Christ and stand by it.
The invitation must be given in a way that honors the Lord. Excessive pressure is unwarranted. Trying to convince someone to make a decision by using manipulation is a gross error. Winning souls is not a business of getting people to pray a prayer, but rather it is God's work of drawing lost souls to Him by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We are merely facilitators of this process. The Lord is seeking souls to come to Him. Let us not fear extending the invitation for them to come to God. Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.