The streets must have been strange. The environment odd, as religious leaders walked with noses pointed into the air down the street as if to remind the people that radicals come and go, but they were there to stay. These arrogant hypocrites that knew the Scriptures better than most still had no idea what they’d done and what was coming. Judas knew. He realized quickly that he made a mistake. His sin was so heavy on his shoulders that he could only commit suicide. But the Pharisees were too proud, too arrogant, far too narcissistic for that. I can see them smiling smugly, proud of their accomplishment. All the while not knowing that while it was Friday…Sunday was coming.
In a country like the United States, where easy believe-ism has produced false converts and cultural Christianity that seems to identify more with the American flag and White House than with the Scriptures and church house, this view is understandable. It’s almost a necessary evil.
The president had no obligation to exercise mercy and pardon any of the prisoner’s. Their crime is clear, their guilt is sure, and their punishment is just. But the president chose, of his own free will, to pardon a few prisoner’s. Now, let’s answer two crucial question to help us understand how this relates to predestination and election.
In the prescience view some people are saved because they hear the Gospel and they exercise their faith in Jesus and accept the Gospel message. In the Augustinian/Reformed view…
The first order says that a person, of their own volition (though through the preaching of the Gospel), decides to have faith in Christ. This faith that a person decides to exercise is the catalyst for the entire salvation process. Once a person decides for him/herself to exercise this faith, repentance and regeneration follow and the salvation process commences and is completed.
The problem with this view is…
The preacher would end his sermon by saying “every head bowed and every eye closed.” I knew that the next few minutes would be spent listening to the pianist play “Just As I Am” on the piano while the preacher encouraged people to come down front and pray. At some point the preacher would inevitably say “if you want to be saved, repeat this simple prayer after me,” after which he would recite the “sinners prayer” from memory. Then, with every head bowed and every eye closed, the preacher would ask if anyone said that prayer. He would ask people that said the prayer to raise their hand while assuring them that “no one will see and no one will approach you.”
That might be a familiar routine to you. You also might be wondering what it is and why some churches do it.
First, let’s talk about the history of the altar call and how it came to be a sacred ritual in many churches today. An article at Christianity Today shares some of the history of the altar call:
While we may have good intentions for our efforts to comfort grieving parents, Christians must make sure that their intentions, efforts, and words are based solely on Scripture. There is no real comfort in telling someone what cannot be supported by Scripture. So before we tell parents that their child is now in Heaven, we need to examine Scripture to determine whether that is true or not.
The traditional, somewhat historical position can be summed up in a statement by Sam Storms, writing at The Gospel Coalition, when he says:
The view concerning man’s will is one of debate among Arminians and Reformed theologians. Arminians believe that man has the ability, the free will, to choose Christ. Reformed theologians believe that due to the bondage of the will to sin, man does not have the ability to choose Christ without the regenerating work and effectual calling of the Holy Spirit. This distinction has been the source of much debate between these two theological groups.
Before moving forward, it is important to understand that it is a universally agreed upon fact that man has a will and can make choices based upon that will. However, what is not true is that man has the ability to freely choose Christ based solely upon his own free will. Let me explain the difference.
In these verses we come to understand that the will of man is bent on evil and rejection of God. There is no one that will, of his own free will, choose God (Rom. 3:10-19). In fact, the human will is so captive to sin that no man has any desire for God and prefers the darkness over the light (John 3:19). This means that the idea of free will is true. But it also means that if given a choice man will always choose sin, the darkness, and always choose to reject Christ.
When given the choice between sin and Christ, man will always choose sin.