The Altar

I am more and more convinced that when we see movement to the altar in our services, we see the favor of God. I’m not talking movement for movement’s sake, but movement because the Holy Spirit is moving in convicting power and people can’t just sit still.

As I watch from the pulpit Sunday after Sunday, I often see people move from the front sections, but rarely–I mean rarely–do I see people move who are sitting under the balcony and in the balcony. I wonder why. Is it proximity to the preaching that makes one more aware? Is it because there are more distractions the further away you are from the “action” on the stage? I’m not sure. It’s just painfully obvious that we have too many people, with all we’ve seen and heard, who are in the “I will not be moved” section. They come in, but they do not go out as they came in. They leave harder, more resistant, and colder than when they first came. Why? They’ve not done what God told them to do.

Does everyone have to make a decision at the altar? No. But let’s be honest–isn’t it obvious how some sections of this body seem to be unmoved by anything? Does that bother you? Burden you?

We must die daily, take up our cross daily, humble ourselves daily before God. Men must lead in this–then, youth and children will follow. We must not walk down the aisle for the sake of walking down the aisle. It’s not about proving a point; it’s about tenderness of heart and a surrender to the Word of God in absolute obedience.

We don’t need movement for movement’s sake.

We don’t need people moving because I’ve challenged them to move.

We need the SPIRIT MOVING in such a way that we can’t sit still and walk out doing little or nothing with what we’ve heard.

It’s not my invitation, it’s the Lord’s.

It’s not my altar, it’s the Lord’s.

It’s not about me, it’s about Him and His church being a willing, available, pliable vessel in His hands.

Will you pray with me that God will do a mighty, lasting work in our midst–one that doesn’t end when the service is dismissed, but one that impacts our lives, families and this community.

I was challenged as I read this quote today.

J. Oswald Smith wrote:

“You are to step into the pulpit to preach the Gospel with the expectancy of faith. You ought to be just as certain of results when you commence to preach as you are when you actually see men and women walking down the aisles to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

All through the years of my ministry, I have extended the invitation. I cannot understand how any minister can be satisfied to preach the Gospel, pronounce the benediction and then go home without having seen anything happen. It seems to me that after I have spread the food on the table, I ought to give the people a chance to come forward and partake of it, and if I do not, I am leaving something vital out of my ministry.

Sunday after Sunday I have invited lost men and women as well as backsliders to come forward and accept Christ, and I can hardly remember a Sunday night through all the years of my ministry when  have not seen results. Night after night, I have seen them walk down the aisles, stand at the front and then go with the personal workers into the inquiry rooms, there to be dealt with individually. I am surprised when nothing happens. If I were to preach a gospel message, give an invitation and see no one respond, I would be amazed. I expect to see results.

When I step into the pulpit God sees to give me that expectancy of faith of which I have been speaking, so that I know perfectly well that when I have concluded my message and extended the invitation, there will be those who will respond. I think I would get out of the ministry if I could not see results.

Does not a lawyer expect a verdict? He does not speak to entertain. He talks to the jury in order to get a conviction, and unless he secures a verdict, his appeal has failed. So, too, it should be with the gospel preacher, with the evangelist. He should expect a verdict. He should get results.

(from “The Man God Uses”)

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