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Monday, June 20, 2011

Is There Power At The Altar?

I think the "Altar Call " and "The Tithe"are two of the most dishonest and destructive thing that has been introduced to the Christian Church. The idea you won't be blessed if you don't give 10% of your income to a church is dishonest.

Any time the altar call is part of the salvation plan it can become destructive.The "Altar Call" is  totally man made and part of a man centered approach to salvation doctrine. It makes the place of the altar sacred, and the experience of the altar paramount in the overall salvation "experience." I remember to this day  the time I was called to the Altar during a service and was left standing thinking something was wrong with me. I never forgot that experience.

I know people have come to the saving knowledge of Christ and may have been at the front of the church at the altar  when it happened. But that doesn't make it sacred. I have seen a lot unsaved people who believe that in order to be saved, they have to get to the altar.In the clip below the pastor does something that I have always had a problem with calling people  out during a service. Now this  can be very destructive to a person's mind and how they see God ask me I know.


  1. It took a lot of courage to post this, Ann. And I agree with you on both issues.

    Terry@ Breathing Grace

  2. @Terry thanks for the comment. Terry to this day I still remember the pain and embarrassment of leaving a altar feeling and thinking God didn't like me.

  3. I'm in agreement with you. I wanted to know exactly where this came from & this is what I found:

    What is often shocking to many who use the modern invitation system is that the altar call is just that modern. The practice, although widespread, is a very new phenomenon in the Christian church. For nearly nineteen centuries no one had ever heard of the practice. Such well known evangelists as George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, and even John Wesley had never even heard of such a custom. And Charles Spurgeon, that passionate winner of souls par excellence, although well acquainted with the practice, firmly refused to adopt it and even criticized it severely.

    Ironically, 'the old fashioned altar call' was unheard of until the nineteenth century. It first came into being by the influence of Charles Finney, the pioneer of modern evangelistic methods. In Finney's crusades (c. 1830) seats at the front were reserved for those who, after the sermon, would respond to the challenge to come to the Lord's side. Those who were thus 'anxious' for their souls were invited to walk forward to the 'anxious seat' where counsel and prayer would be given them.

    The following quote from Finney's Lectures on Revival explains his view well.

    'Preach to him, and at the moment he thinks he is willing to do anything . . . bring him to the test; call on him to do one thing, to make one step that shall identify him with the people of God. . . . If you say to him, 'there is the anxious seat, come out and avow your determination to be on the Lord's side,' and if he is not willing to do a small thing as that, then he is not willing to do anything for Christ.'

    The practice was designed to force decisions, to get results. So it did, and with slight variations the new method spread with increasing popularity through Finney and, later, Dwight L. Moody, and finally into virtually all of nineteenth and twentieth century evangelicalism. Peter Cartwright, Sam Jones, R. A. Torrey, Billy Sunday, Bob Jones, Gipsy Smith, Mordacai Ham, John R. Rice, Billy Graham all employed the method with impressive success. The invitation system had come to stay.

  4. @Evette thanks for the comment and info. This practice can be very damaging to unsaved folks. From my own experience is the place that I speak from.

  5. Can you expand on this statement - The idea you won't be bless if you don't give 10% of your income to a church is dishonest.
    you can email me if you wish..

  6. @Nylse thanks for your comment. The Bible does not refer to Christian giving as a form of tithing. So why should Christians refer to their financial support as tithing either? Instead, the Bible refers to Christian donations as acts of grace or simply, giving (2 Cor. 8:1-7).
    I don't think the old covenant tithing ritual should be used to govern Spirit-led giving. Why can't I walk in the Spirit when it comes to giving? We are told to walk in the Spirit in every other area of our life. But when it comes to money we got rules and regulation.

    What I see happening in today's church is people who want to give as they have decided in their heart to give are now being told they will be cursed for not giving 10 percent of their income to the local church. That is not true!

    Don't get me wrong I give to my church and I love doing it. And I will continual do so. But I should not feel ashame or guilty if I don't give 10%. We should give through grace, as led by the Holy Spirit, and with the correct priorities in place.

  7. AnnBrock, I always appreciate the opportunity to comment on your posts. Thank you. Forgive me for the epistle. :)

    I disagree on both.

    Altar Call
    I believe there is power at the altar even though I don't personally practice making altar calls when I teach. While it may be true that persons have had negative emotional experiences while standing at the altar, millions of persons have also come to Christ (as suggested by Evette) because of an altar call.

    It is true that some preachers use the altar call to pressure people to give their lives to Christ in the same way that many use the threat of Hell. The Bible tells us that God uses the Holy Spirit to draw people to Him. Don't you think this could happen through an altar call for some people if they are not pressured by insensitive preachers?

    In the Old Testament: Tithes were first given in Genesis 14:20. Jacob promised God tithes (Genesis 28:22). Tithing was an Old Testament command from the Lord to the Israelites (Leviticus 27:30). The tithe could be redeemed (Leviticus 27:31) and was specifically 10% of all that a person gained or increased in (Leviticus 27:32). The tithe was for the Levites and priests who also had to offer 10% of what they received to God (Numbers 18:26). In the New Testament: The Pharisees practiced giving tithes (Luke 18:12) and Christ told the Scribes and Pharisees to tithe (Matthew 23:23). Some will say that was for the Israelites and does not apply to Christians today. Not so.

    The Apostle Paul taught that money must be collected every sabbath; that this collection was specifically for poor relief; and, that the collection must be given to the Apostles. He didn't specify a percentage but said each person should lay in store (or reserve) according to how God prospered them. It is interesting that the Greek word used for ‘lay’ in the scripture below is TITHEMI, which means to lay aside, to put down, to place, to set forth, to establish and to fix. It refers to money here.

    “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first [day] of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” 1 Corinthians 16:1-2

    Paul taught the principles of tithing to non-Israelite believers (Christians) in the Corinthian and Galatian Churches. Paul specified that that there is such a thing as the 'collection for the saints', which must be done upon the first day of the week. The word 'first' comes from the Greek word MIA meaning only one. The term 'day of the week' is SABBATON in Greek and refers to the sabbath day. The word 'collection' derives from the Greek word LOGEIA, which specifically refers to a collection of money gathered for poor relief. The term 'for the saints' literally means unto, to or towards the Apostles.

    When we look into the Greek text, we see the intention that tithing (TITHEMI) must happen but that the money must be given to the leadership to be used for the specific purpose of poor relief and not to put the leadership in mansions, limousines and jets.

    God Bless You!

  8. Wow Ann! I was just dealing with this at church just this past Sunday. I have been a tither for a long time, but it was never demanded of me by my church. My mindset about it is what I picked up from watching TV evangelism.

    I have come back to the Lord in the last 8 years or so.

    And before I joined a church, I watched TBN and CBN and all them. So I took that mentality with me, at first because I wanted "blessings" but later because it became a habit.

    Last Thursday I think, it hit me not to tithe. But I worried a bit. So when I went to church, I didn't tithe. But I was moved by the spirit this time to give a higher offering to bless a specific work for the children of the church.

    I had been giving out of a televangelist mentality--out of a false sense of duty. This time it was by the move of the Spirit! I don't remember the last time it was that way for me.

    Im wrestling with this, and I'm looking to the Spirit to lead me. I've been led to Scriptures about tithing, such as Proverbs 3:9-10, and I'm looking forward to what else the Lord will show me. I want the proper perspective. Bless God!

  9. @S Morgan thanks for the comment. I believe any time the altar call is part of the salvation plan it can become destructive and misleading. I mention in the post that people have come to the saving knowledge of Christ and may have been at the altar.

    When I speak about tithing I am particularly addressing the "enforced" tithing that is so often preached in churches today.

    In our churches today the word tithe is used as a law to force Christians to give one tenth of their income to that church. I do not believe that is Biblical.

    Many Christian are told that they are "robbing God" if they do not give at least a tenth to the institution they attend each Sunday.

    S. Morgan you are a pastor am I correct? If so is tithing a New Testament practice at all? Is it really for Christians, today or is it part of the Old Covenant? Is there really a law or Scriptures stating that all Christians must give ten percent of their income? Or are we supposed to be "cheerful givers" - simply giving whatever God has placed on our hearts?

    @Anna thanks for your comment. You may be surprised to learn how little the word 'Tithing' is even mentioned in the New Testament.

    In fact, there is no actual Scripture telling CHRISTIANS to tithe at all. There is one NT Scripture telling PHARISEES to tithe. But in all the letters of the apostles to the church, they never say that this was for Christians.

    And in the entire book of Acts there is NOT EVEN ONE mention of tithing. There are plenty of examples of people giving money "from the heart", but NO MENTION of tithing. Isn't that interesting? I don't believe you can be a cheerful giver if you feel as if you are being force to give.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. @ AnnBrock, no, I'm not a pastor. And yes, I believe tithing is a New Testament practice for Christians. We are to be both cheerful givers as well as tithers.

    Please read 1 Timothy 5:17-18.

    It says those who lead the Church well, by working in the word and teaching, should be paid. A labourer is worthy of his pay. Who is supposed to pay them?

    This is the foundation scripture of New Testament tithing. It is similar to the Old Testament practice of tithing to the Levites.

    Then there is Hebrews 7:1-10.

    Melchisedec was a priest, prophet and king who had no record of birth or death or family history (Hebrews 7:3). He was a symbol of Christ and the scripture says Jesus Christ was a priest after Melchisedec's order (Hebrews 6:20).

    Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedec (Hebrews 7:1-2). Therefore, since Christ is a priest after Melchisedec's order, every labourer in 1 Timothy 5:17-18 above is under this priesthood as well.

    If Abraham gave tithes to Melchisedec, how much more should we give tithes to Christ and His representative priests in whom the Melchisedec order exists to this day? (Hebrews 7:17)

    Think about it. The example has been set and we should choose to follow it.

    What is very BAD is that unworthy gold digging preachers use treacherous words to force people to tithe just like the tax collectors of Jesus' day forced people to pay taxes.
    This is very wrong!

    People must be free to make their own decision to tithe because it is their own conscience by the urging of the Holy Spirit that lets them know to give or to not give. And the Holy Spirit will deal with them personally based on whether or not they were obedient to Him.

    So the final Biblical analysis on tithing is that there are two very important aspects of giving: 1. to the saints for the poor; and 2. to the labourers who work in the word and teach, who are worthy of their wages.

    God Bless You!

    P.S. If I double posted please use this one as the most current. Thanks.

  12. @S.Morgan, I have to disagree with you on the tithing outlines that you touched on. Apologies, for this is long but very informative, and needed to put the tithing question into perspective.

    1. In regards to 1Timothy 5:17-18. This passage is dealing with Elders, and not with the modern pastoral offices as we know it today. Double honor, in this passage means having greater respect. The same word honor is used 4 times in 1 Timothy, and in every case it means respect. Double honor may have included free-will offerings as a token of blessing from time to time, but it was not a law to give or tithe.

    Hebrews 7:1-10. We are all priests now--free to function in God's house. The old priesthood, and the tithe have all been crucified. Today the Levitcal system has been abolished. If a priest demands a tithe, then all Christians should tithe to one another.

    3.Abraham's tithe was completely voluntary! He lived before the law. God did not command that Abraham tithe as he did with Israel.

    4. Israel was under the Mosaic Law. God commanded that Israel bring their tithes into the storehouse (food) for the support of the Levites, the poor, the strangers, and the widows. Malachi 3:8-10: He opposes oppression of the poor. The Lord instituted 3 kinds of tithes for Israel as part of their taxation system. God commanded Israel to give 23.3 percent of their income every year, not 10percent.

    1. A tithe of the produce of the land to support the Levites who had no inheritance in Canaan.

    2. A tithe of the produce of the land to sponsor religious festivals in Jerusalem. If the produce was too burdensome for a family to carry to Jerusalem, they could convert it into money (Deuteronomy 14:22-27)
    3. A tithe of the produce of the land collected every third year for the local Levites, orphans, strangers, and widows.

    5. The New Testament urges believers to give according to their ability. It is important to note that Christians in the early church gave to help other believers and to support apostolic workers, which aided them to travel and plant churches.

    6. If anyone wishes to tithe that is fine. Tithing becomes a problem when it is represented as a command from God.

    Acts 20:33-35 There he told the elders in Ephesus that he did not take money from God's people but instead supplied his own needs. Paul then told the elders to follow his example in this.

    Tithing exclusively belonged to Israel under the law. Tithing was first mentioned in the 3rd century as a means of financially supporting the clergy, it did not come wide spread until the 18th century. 10percent was used to calculate payments to landlords in Europe. 10percent was the required rent. Tithing made its way from the state to the church.

  13. ____________________________part 1
    You have given a very interesting perspective here but clarification is still needed. I apologise to everyone for previously hurrying to comment and not clearly explaining this in the two comments above. Forgive me. Let us examine the scripture from the Greek text to gain the precise and correct understanding. I will try to be brief because of space constraints.

    The word ‘elders’ in 1 Timothy 5:17, comes from the Greek word PRESBYTEROS. It refers to those who presided over each church. The New Testament uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably therefore the word is applicable to the various “modern pastoral offices”. Our English word ‘presbytery’ (the government of a church) has roots in this Greek word.

    The word ‘double’ is DIPLOUS in Greek and means two-fold. The word ‘honour’ is TIME, pronounced te-may, which specifically refers to the fixed price for which a person or thing is worth and something of great price or veneration. It is clear what this is saying. The fact that the word refers to pricing is not coincidence. The scripture says double honour (or two-fold value) must be given ‘especially’ (MALISTA) or chiefly, most of all, above all, to those who ‘labour’ (KOPIAO) or tire themselves out in teaching the word and doctrine.

    In 1 Timothy 5:18, it speaks about muzzling the ox that treads the corn. The context is that the ox is harnessed to a plow and driven through the field to plow it. So, if the ox goes into the corn and eats the produce of the same field that it plowed, it should not be muzzled. The labourer is compared to that ox and as the scripture rightly says is worthy of his ‘reward’ (MISTHOS). Misthos refers to dues paid for work and is translated wages in some Bibles.

    The Apostle Paul is clearly saying that we must deem the presbytery 'worthy' (AXIOO) or deserving of double honour and that they should be paid ON THE CONDITION that they ‘rule’ (PROISTEMI) or superintend ‘well’ (KALOS) excellently. The only thing that disqualifies them from getting paid is if they don’t ‘rule well’.

    In fact the Apostle gives a caution to all in 1 Timothy 5 about everything he said from verse 1 to verse 20. He says the following in verse 21:

    “I charge [thee] before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.”

  14. I had to split the comment because it was too long...____________________________part 2

    It is incorrect that tithing was first mentioned in the 3rd century. It is also incorrect that tithing made its way from state to church in Europe. If anything it was quite the reverse, from church to state.

    In Hebrews 7, the scripture clearly says that Abraham gave a 10th (v.2) or 1/10 of everything which is 10%. This happened long before God gave the Law to Moses. So the principle of the 10th has existed long before the 3rd century. It is even more interesting when we look to the Greek text. The term ‘tenth part’ was translated from DEKATE, which literally means one tenth (1/10).

    In context, Hebrews 7, talks about Melchisedek, his priesthood being everlasting (v.3) and Christ being a priest after that order (v.21). It says that When Abraham gave a tenth to Melchisedek, the entire Levitical priesthood (which did not yet exist) did so as well (v.9). The scripture goes further in asserting that Melchisedek’s lineage was not of Israel yet Israel gave him a tenth through Abraham (v.6).

    The scripture makes a distinction between ‘tithes’ (APODEKATOO) or exacting a tenth of anything from anyone by Levi under the law (v.5) and ‘tithes’ (DEKATOO) or simply exacting a tithe or a tenth by Abraham before the law (v.6). So there are two types of tithing: Levitical and Abrahamic.

    It is true that Levitical tithing originated in the Old Testament from the Law given to Moses. It is also true that Levitical tithing was a law specifically for the benefit of the Levitical Priesthood. We can conclude from this that Levitical tithing was a command for the nation of Israel. But what about Abrahamic tithing, which was before the law?

    This is very significant because Abraham was under promise not law and was justified by faith not law. We are also justified by faith, in fact the same faith as Abraham. When referring to faith and the faith of Abraham, the scripture says that WE are children of Abraham through faith (Romans 4:12, 16)! Since we are children of Abraham through faith, and since the Levites were said to have paid tithes through Abraham, how much more have we paid tithes through Abraham. So we see that the precedent has been set not just for faith but for tithing as well!

    NOTE: There was a disannulling of the LAW (v.18) hence a disannulling of the practices (including Levitical tithing) under the law. But the practice of tithing through Abraham was never under the law and can never be disannulled.

    Now combine the knowledge of the teachings in both 1 Timothy 5 and Hebrews 7 above. This gives precise and correct knowledge of the New Testament position on tithing. HOW exactly are we supposed to pay the presbytery since the scripture does not make specifications for that? The best example we have to guide us in so doing comes from the scriptures on tithing.

    In fact, since the scripture establishes that Abrahamic tithing was never done away with, tithing is very much alive and can be used to determine how to pay our presbytery. Didn’t the Apostle Paul say to give as the Lord prospers us? What percentage of your prosperity should you give? I believe the Bible has predetermined the tenth for us.
    I pray this clarifies the question of tithing. Be blessed all.

    P.S. AnnBrock, I apologise for this epistle.

  15. very good points you make. Im following!

  16. @Evette thanks for the comment and your input in the debate.

    @Isabella thanks for the comment and for stopping by.

    Hey every body, S. Morgan got a great read over at his place.

  17. @S.Morgan. In answer to Part I
    1Timothy 5:17-18
    The context of "double honor" in 5:17 is that of rebuking wrongdoers in the church, and not "salary." Verses 1-16 and 19-20 are clearly discussions of discipline. Immediate context must be the primary determining factor.

    5:1 Do not rebuke an elder [older man] [remember their honor].

    5:3-16 Honor widows [honor is greater than rebuke].

    5:17-18 Give double honor to elders who labor in the word.

    5:19-20 Rebuke [ministering] elders openly that sin.

    5:21 Do not be impartial [honor first; rebuke last resort].

    5:22 Do not be hasty in discipline [remember their honor].

    5:24 God will judge sins.

    I agree that the greek text is translated price, but again context must be primary. If we plug in the word “price in the above where it states honor we can clearly see that we must place things in context. Honor in this verse means just that, honor…to hold great respect for. It is impossible to conclude that Paul is now asking the church to pay Timothy a double salary! Claiming that Paul wanted Timothy and church leaders to receive "double-salary" contradicts his convictions about preaching the gospel. In First Corinthians 9:12 he refused a "right" to receive compensation "unless we should hinder the gospel of Christ." In 9:15 he stated that, not only had he not accepted support, he did not intend to start accepting it; as a matter of fact, he would "rather die" than have anybody deny him of boasting that he preached for free. Why would Paul expect Timothy to do otherwise, and not follow his own example?

    Part 2…..
    I need to clarify my statement in regards to the early European Church and tithing. I should have explained my statement.
    Cyprian (200-258) is the first Christian writer to mention the practice of financially supporting the clergy. His main argument, if the Levites were supported by the tithe, so can the clergy. Remember the early church did not practice tithing, or advocate it. They advocated giving out of a generous heart, not a law! It became wide spread, tithing thinking, in the 18th century.
    Hebrews 7
    Again putting things in perspective…Abraham tithed out of the spoils of war---not out of anything that he actually owned. After rescuing Lot and recovering the goods stolen from the region around Sodom, Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils of war (also verse 5).  word, tithe, could refer to, first, 1/10, or 10%, of pagan spoils from Sodom and Gomorrah; Law spoils-of-war ordinance of 1/1000th (.1%), or, third, 1/10th of 10%, 1%, which Levi was required to give to the Aaronic priests. Abraham gave a tenth “of all” to Melchizedek. Verse 4 limits this to the “spoils of war.” Actually, according to Genesis 14, Abraham kept absolutely nothing from these spoils of war. Except for what his personal army had consumed, the rest was freely returned to its owners in Sodom and Gomorrah through the king of Sodom. God had blessed Abraham so that he required nothing else. Neither did he want to give the king of Sodom an opportunity to brag that he had made Abraham rich.
     Therefore, the amount of the tithe is irrelevant in the discussion of Hebrews 7. I could go on and on but for the sake of time and space I won’t. I’ll just stop here. But there is greater meaning in the order of the priesthood that is spoken of in Hebrews. And If I go there we’ll be here reading for days.

    Romans4:12,16 your use of this passage ( how you link it back to tithing) is a little far fetched.
    In short we will agree to disagree. I believe that the Word of God is clear, and there is no mandate, or law on how much anyone should give.

  18. Okay Evette,

    Regarding part 1
    If I were to follow your lead on this...The context of 5:17 is still wages because the verse is connected to 5:18, which gives an analogy to the labourer getting paid for the work he does.

    Regarding part 2
    As AnnBrock said, Please see the comments for the post on my Blog at the link she gave above. I answered this over there after someone put forth a great argument to it. Sorry for the trouble.

    With regard to Romans 4:12, 16. We are Abraham's children. The Levites were his children as well. If the bible says they paid a tenth simply because he did. Then how much more did we pay a tenth through him?

    But, like you said Evette, we can agree to disagree.

    I don't think being wrong or right on this issue will disqualify either one of us from obtaining salvation so I guess its okay to agree to disagree. :)

    Great debate, lots of insight. Be blessed.

  19. very good points you make. Im following!


  21. If you are seeking God what is the problem with the altar? I see the problem as people wanting to come to the Lord Jesus Christ on their terms and want the holy people of God to preach and teach what makes them feel good. The devil is a lair. If you have a heart for God and the things of God, why must you tear down what the Lord our God has established in His Holy Word???? God is Holy and He requires His children (those of us that are born again believers of Jesus Christ) to be so as well. Leviticus 11:44 says, "For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

    The Lord our God, Jesus Christ, don't accept Cain offerings - No one looking to come to God can come to Him the way that they want to and think that's it's ok when He has set His holy laws in the Holy Bible. Abraham and other patriots built altars before the Lord our God - so, the altar is still good! Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever more! Malachi 3:6 "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."

    Tithes: Malachi 3:8
    Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

    9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

    10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

    In conclusion, if you are looking to serve God out of a pure heart, you don't need to worry about people not doing right while standing in the name of the our God, Jesus Christ - For He sees all and He will execute His Holy judgement (which is always right) upon the disobedient and those that deceived people using His name. You can be sure of that, if nothing else. So, seek the Lord our God out of a pure heart while He may be found.... seek and ye shall find - and in Matthews 5:6 "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."