There is no such thing as an “altar call” in Scripture. Nowhere in Scripture do we see invitations being given to raise our hands if we want to follow Jesus. Could these superficial ways people are now being called to follow Jesus have something to do with the superficial ways many Christians are now following Him?
As Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, He bids Him come and die.” They are to die to their former life and no longer live for themselves, but for Him. In the New Testament, when someone made a commitment to follow Jesus, they were immediately water baptized, which represented a total commitment and change of life. Could this supplanting of the biblical way to commit to Christ with easier ways to “accept Jesus” be why believers today live far more casual, superficial lives? There is a great contrast between the radical nature of believers in Scripture and what is acceptable today.
This may also explain why as many as 95% of those who “make a decision for Christ” are not “added to the church” today. In the New Testament, 100% of those who committed to following Jesus were “added to the church” (see Acts 2:47). In the New Testament, to be water baptized was a bold public statement of their commitment to die with Him, so they could also be raised with Him.
It’s not about the water; it’s about the most important commitment of our lives. Just as a wedding is not about a marriage but about a commitment to be married, so is baptism. It is a commitment to die to this world and be raised to a new life in Him—to follow the King, live for Him, and do His will, not ours. We should make big deals out of weddings because the marriage commitment is so important. How much more important is being joined to the Lord?
This is not to judge anyone’s salvation by how they made a commitment to the Lord. As the Apostle Paul said, “The Lord knows those who are His” (see II Timothy 2:19). However, we are also required to judge others by their fruit. Can we really believe someone “gave their life to Jesus” when there is no change in their life or lifestyle thereafter? Could it be that shallow messages that lead people to make shallow decisions lead them to think they are “saved” when in fact their eternal lives are still in jeopardy?
Jesus asked, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do the things which I say” (see Luke 6:46 NKJV)? If we really believe He is the Lord and Creator of all, what can possibly eclipse our devotion to knowing, following, and obeying Him in all things?
The Scriptures declare that those who believe in the Lord Jesus will be saved. The Greek word eis translated as in here literally means “into.” Eis means to be transferred from a position outside to a position inside. The knowledge of who Jesus is, is a start, but as we are told, even demons believe this, and demons are obviously not saved. Believing in Him, or that He existed and exists today as King of kings is not the same as believing into Him. To believe into Him will result in a radical change of life and will be attested by the fruit in our lives.
If we are one who has come to Him by a shallow message that only required a shallow devotion to Him, then “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart…” (see Hebrews 3:7,15; 4:7). Those who truly believe in Him, not only occasionally visit with Him, but they also live in Him. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Knowing Him as the Way is how we start and knowing Him as the Truth is how we continue, but neither of these are real to us if He is not our Life.
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