Is it Wrong to Ask for an Overt Response? (Part 1)June 23, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 6 Comments
Tags: Acts 2, Acts 3, altar calls, decisional idolatry, decisionism, Gospel preaching, monergism, Salvation, sinner's prayer, synergism
The Apostles not only asked for a response – they demanded one. “Be converted” appears to be in the imperative:
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
There is a backlash these days against what is perceived as trying to coax people into getting saved. “Use the Old Testament law,” say the critics. “Preach the Gospel, not ‘decisionism,'” they say.
God is sovereign. Salvation is all of Him. No one repents without God empowering them to repent. No one has faith unto salvation without God empowering that faith. God gets all the glory for regeneration, justification, adoption, redemption, sanctification, and everything else that goes along with salvation. But I am not aware of any Bible verses that limit Gospel preaching to nothing more than conviction of the lost sinner under God’s law. We don’t have Bible verses that prohibit leading lost sinners in prayer. We don’t have Bible verses that prohibit us from imploring, exhorting, commanding, and demanding lost sinners to call upon the Lord.
I haven’t seen much of it myself, but there may be false teachers out there going nuts, telling people that if they check off a blank on a form, then they are saved, and then baptizing them in a fire truck or something. I have seen people who are evangelizing with passion the Bible way, and we do them a disservice when we discourage Gospel preachers from asking for an overt response to their preaching.
“Be converted” is indeed a command. It is a command to do something. It is a command to respond. Our response to the hearing of the Word of God or to the conviction of the Holy Ghost does not diminish God’s grace, or make the Cross of none effect, or make that response a “work.” Nor does it detract from God’s sovereignty or His predestination or His election. All sinners who see their need for a Savior and call upon the Lord are praying when they do so. Praying is calling upon the Lord.
The fact that people do not respond to the Gospel call in their own power does not negate the fact that people do respond – actively and overtly – to the Gospel. God is powerful enough, mysterious enough, and gracious enough that people respond to the preaching of His Own Word in His power. Do they respond? Oh yes they do. Do they get the praise for responding? Oh no they don’t. It is a small view of God that says God’s gracious empowering of people to respond to the Gospel contradicts the truth that salvation is all of God. Someone will say I can’t have it both ways, and I can’t. But God can have it all the ways He has set forth in His eternal Word. Jesus Christ is the Way, but God draws people to His Son in all sorts of earthly situations and circumstances.
And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.