Are church practices like altar calls biblical?
That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. We'd love to hear from you. And our phone lines are open right now. Here's the phone number. You can call us for the next 25 minutes or so. You can also post your question on one of our social media sites.
And of course, you can watch Adriel live right now on YouTube. We have a YouTube channel. You can send him your question that way. And you're always welcome to email us at questionsatcorechristianity.com. Here's the number one more time.
833-843-2673. And let's go to a voicemail that came in from one of our listeners named Sean. I have a question. I just want to say I really love what you guys do. And I think it's awesome.
Me and my mom both listen to your podcast. But anyways, I just wanted to say I got into a relationship and we're about to hit three years with my girlfriend. And the thing is we had sex and we started having sex and it became a regular thing in our relationship. I feel like God is like pulling me back. Like I don't want to keep living for this world. Like I want to start living for him. I don't know how to cut this sin out because every once in a while we keep doing it even though we've had to talk about I want to wait. I just wonder like how can I get close to Jesus if I'm in a relationship where we were known to have sex.
The thoughts of insecurity kind of plays a role in it where it's like, you know, I don't know if I can wait because I want to be insecure that she's going to be cheating on me, but I don't want to have this constant stress. I want to live for him at the same time. Thank you guys. Sean, well, one man, thank you for your encouragement. I'm grateful that the broadcast is a blessing for you and for your mother. And my heart just goes out to you, brother.
I mean, this is a real serious situation. I can tell that you want to honor God, that you're feeling drawn to the Lord, but this is something that you're still participating or doing in this relationship. And so a couple of things, man. First, you know that this is a sin and we have to take sin very seriously in our lives as Christians because it keeps us from communion with God and with the body of Christ. And so we have to be very wise here.
You need to be wise here and mature. And this is what God calls you to. Two passages of scripture I want to read to you. The first one is in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, verse 3.
Here it is. This is the will of God, your sanctification. What does that mean? Paul says that you abstain from sexual immorality, that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God, that no one transgressed and wronged him. No one transgressed and wronged his brother in this matter because the Lord is an avenger in all these things as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity but in holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God who gives his Holy Spirit to you. Here's what God calls you to. This is the will of God for you, Sean, your purity that you would abstain from sexual immorality.
The other text I wanted is the exhortation that the apostle Paul gives to Timothy in 2 Timothy, chapter 2, verse 22. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. So this is what we're called to.
This is what you're called to. You're called to flee from youthful passions, to abstain from sexual immorality, and to pursue, together with the body of Christ, all those who call upon the name of the Lord, righteousness, faith, love, and peace. And insofar as this relationship is keeping you from doing that, you really do need to ask that question, is this the right relationship for me? Now, if this person that you're with is not a Christian, then I would just say, no, you're not supposed to be with somebody who doesn't profess faith in Christ. If they profess faith in Christ but aren't at all interested in following the Lord, I mean, if you have these conversations, they just think, yeah, whatever, again, right? I mean, you really need to take a step back and ask yourself, is this honoring the Lord? If it's not, well, I need to take that seriously.
I need to take my walk with the Lord seriously. And so just one other thing that I would add as well is a relationship that depends on sinful behavior is not pleasing to the Lord or honoring to God. You said, you know, I'm afraid that if we abstain, if we just stop doing this, that maybe she'll go and be with somebody else or she'll cheat on me, and that's not the healthy or a healthy foundation for a relationship. That's not honoring to the Lord.
So that might be your answer right there. It's very clear just from that that this is not the right thing. Now, if this person is wanting to pursue Christ and says, yeah, you know what, this is sin, we need to repent of this, get accountability and honor the Lord, honor each other, well, I think that there's hope. But if that's not the case, brother, I think you know what you need to do. And so may the Lord give you strength to do that and be with you, Sean.
Thank you for reaching out to us. Man, such a tough situation, and I know there's a lot of young people that are in similar situations. I can't recall if Sean mentioned that they are living together, but I think that right there, moving out, finding separate living spaces is probably a good first step. Yeah, I mean, if that's the case, and I didn't get that vibe from Sean's question, it just seemed like they're in a relationship and they're doing things that they shouldn't be doing because they're not married. And so that's clearly a sin.
I mean, so that's clear. There's not a hard question there. The question is, are they wanting to walk in repentance, walk in the light, pursue the Lord? If they're not, if this other person isn't, then yeah, I mean, you should just not, you guys should break up and you should pursue the Lord with all your heart. And so difficult, definitely difficult, but honestly, the most difficult thing, I think, Bill, is when we reject God's word and when we continue to pursue those things that we know are not honoring to the Lord and ultimately will create pain down the road for us in our relationships. And so that's the difficult thing, and that's why we need to pursue Christ in repentance.
Some really good counsel. Thanks for that, Adriel. You're listening to Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.
Maybe you have a question about something in your life that you've been struggling with, or maybe you have a question about the Bible or doctrine or theology, something in Scripture that maybe you find confusing or you're wondering how you should apply this to your own situation. We would love to hear from you. Here's the number. It's 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. Our phone lines are open right now. We'll be taking your calls here for the next 15 minutes, so jump on the phone right now. Here's a voicemail from one of our listeners that called in earlier this week. Hey, Pastor Adriel.
Thank you for the show. My question concerns altar calls and raising of hands, committing your life to Christ. I guess the first question would be, are those methods unbiblical?
You know, the pastor inviting those to come up to be saved, or let's all bow our heads and close our eyes and raise your hand if you invited Jesus into your heart. Are both of those unbiblical? And then kind of a second question from that, can God still use quote-unquote fallen techniques or poor techniques to bring people to himself?
Thank you. So the second part of that question, you know, can God use churches, let's say churches, that maybe when it comes to the worship or the way in which they approach some of these things, it's not totally in line with what the scripture teaches. I mean, they're getting some things right, other things not right. Can God still use them?
I would say absolutely. Anywhere where Christ is being preached, the Word of God is being taught, I think that the Spirit of God works in and with that. And so, you know, our worship might not be ordered the way in which scripture says it should be ordered. And, you know, the sad reality is in so many churches, this is just not something that people are passionate about or people think through. And so I think that we do see this in many churches. Nevertheless, if the Word of God is being communicated, the Spirit of God is able and does work in the lives of the people that are there.
And so that's something that we give thanks to God for, that the Spirit of God is still at work. Now, with regard to the practices that you mentioned specifically, you said, you know, what about altar calls? You know, the pastor, you know, you have a Sunday service and the pastor after the service says, okay, you know, if you feel like you want to make a decision for Jesus, why don't you come on up and pray and ask Jesus into your heart, that kind of a thing. That's not something that we do at my church.
You don't see that example, I think, in the New Testament per se. And so my concern with it is that people will tie together their conversion experience with, well, I said this prayer, I asked Jesus into my heart there, almost as a sort of formula for salvation. And that's where I think there's a problem. Certainly there's nothing wrong with inviting people to pray and to confess their sins to God and to ask God to come into their lives.
I think that's fine. I think it's just my concern is with, are these people thinking, well, if I do this, if I say this prayer, I'm good. And then they're not being discipled. They're not joining churches or becoming a part of churches.
You know, they just went to some crusade or something like that. Paul is very clear in Romans chapter 10. He says, the word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. That is the word of faith we proclaim, because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. So the question is, what is being preached, first and foremost, what is being believed? So I think that's the first thing. Is the gospel being clearly communicated?
It is. The spirit works together with the word, creating faith in the heart of an individual so that they believe and profess faith in Jesus Christ. Do they need to walk up to the altar or to the chancel or wherever in your church? Do they need to do that?
No. They don't have to do that. But I think we need to make sure that we're preaching the word faithfully, that the word of God is going out, and that these individuals have that and then can respond in faith. Again, I praise God that even though there are unbiblical practices that happen, and I'm not talking about just a rejection of the word, I'm just talking about worship not being ordered the way that it should be. We praise God that even though that's the case, the spirit of God is still able to work even in those churches. I think many of us can say, yeah, when I first came to Christ, I was a part of this or that tradition, and I've continued to grow and seen how the Lord has worked in my life, but we used to do some strange things in that tradition, and yet the Lord was still really present and working in my life at that time, and we praise God for that.
Amen. This is the CORE Christianity program with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and we'd love to hear from you if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life. In fact, you can email us anytime or leave us a voicemail.
Here's our email address. It's questions at corechristianity.com, and if you want to leave us a voicemail, the number is 1-833-843-2673. Well, one of the major concerns in our society today is depression, and we've mentioned before, depression affects Christians, too. Today, we want to offer you a brand new free resource on the topic of depression. Yeah, Bill, you know, one of the unique things about Christianity is that in Jesus, we have a Lord and Savior who weeps. Scripture described him as a man with sorrow, stricken with grief. The Bible addresses depression, actually, in various places. It gives us examples of others who have suffered like us. It gives us the language to talk about our troubles and true and comforting answers for our difficult questions, and that's why we made this new free resource called Three Biblical Ways to Fight Depression. In this resource, we guide you through biblical patterns for how to think and address depression in our lives, how to think about our feelings, our bodies, why depression can't just be prayed away. You sometimes hear that in the church today, and how God wants us to bring our depression and our sorrows to him. He's not afraid of our tears.
Actually, he promises to wipe them away one day. So, if you have a loved one who struggles with depression, or if you struggle with depression, get a hold of this resource over at corechristianity.com. This is such an excellent resource for this real significant issue, and we'd love to get this in your hands.
It's absolutely free. You can go to our website at corechristianity.com forward slash offers. Again, corechristianity.com forward slash offers to download Three Biblical Ways to Fight Depression. Well, we do receive emails here at Core Christianity, and you can send us one with your question anytime.
Here's our email address. It's questions at corechristianity.com. Allen wrote to us and said, Jesus told us, and I tell you, you are Peter on this rock. I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it in Matthew 16. How should we understand the gates of hell shall not prevail against it as Protestants in light of the history of the church from the first century onwards, the Reformation and the period just prior to the Reformation? Interesting question about church history.
Yeah. I think what our brother is getting at there with that question is if the Reformation didn't happen until much later, you think of the 16th century, well, does that mean that the gospel was lost for 1,500 years, that the gates of hell really did prevail against the church? I sometimes hear Roman Catholic apologists who will make this claim.
They'll say, well, you guys came around so much later. Where was the gospel? Where was your church during all that time?
There are some people who are really troubled by this argument. Well, what Protestants have said historically is not that the gospel was just totally lost or extinguished during that time, but that over time as corruption entered into the church, it was not communicated as clearly as it should have been, as it was in the days of the apostles, but that doesn't mean that the gospel was lost or that the Spirit of God was not working. In fact, we were just answering that question earlier about the fact that even with churches that have worship practices that don't line up with God's word, the Spirit of God is still able to work there. Christ is still present insofar as the word of God is being taught, preached, proclaimed.
That is a great comfort that we have. I don't think that we need to think, well, the gospel was just lost. There are some groups that say this. The Mormon Church, for example, they built their entire theology on this idea that all churches were apostate, had rejected the truth, and that the gospel needed to be recovered. It needed to be another testament of Jesus Christ.
I would go to a place like Matthew's gospel there where Jesus says, I'm going to build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it and say, look, what you're saying is not true. What the Mormon Church is saying is not true, but what we say as Protestants is not that the gospel was forever lost or that the church was extinguished during all that time. We're just grappling with the reality of the fact that churches can grow corrupt. We constantly need to go back to the word. We need the Spirit of God to reform our hearts, our churches, our minds to be faithful to scripture. That's what I would say. We can have confidence in the word of God and the fact that God is going to continue to work through the word throughout history as he promised, but that doesn't mean that there aren't churches that grow corrupt, particular churches that grow corrupt.
It doesn't mean that there aren't seasons and haven't been seasons of church history where there was a lot of corruption. Alan, thank you for that question. Good perspective. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Our phone lines are open if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life doctrine, theology, or maybe even some doubts about the Christian faith. We're open to your questions. 1-833-843-2673.
That's 833-THE-CORE. Let's go to Anthony calling in from Illinois. Anthony, what's your question for Adriel? Yes, my wife just passed away last year of Alzheimer's. She's with the Lord, she's got a total memory, and she has a new body with her. And I'm just seeking to know, when I pass away and go with the Lord, is her and I going to know each other as husband and wife or at least friends and be able to give her a good hug and together hug Christ?
Anthony, I'm sorry to hear about your wife's death. I do believe that according to scripture, we will know our loved ones who have died in the Lord when we're in the presence of the Lord and we're perfected in holiness. I do think we will be able to recognize each other and those who have gone before us like our spouses. It's not explicit, but Jesus talks about people coming to sit down in the kingdom of God with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the book of Revelation, John sees the souls of the martyrs beneath the altar.
I don't know what that looks like per se. They're disembodied. This isn't the resurrection yet, but somehow he's still able to recognize and see these people. I think we are going to have this awareness, this sense of each other, memory, so on and so forth. I think you do have that hope. What a hope that is that we have, not just to see our loved ones, but even more than that, to be in the presence of the Lord, the one who loves us and has redeemed us.
Yes, you will get that reunion that you long for. Let me just pray for you that the Lord would grant you his comfort in these days as you mourn the death of your wife. Lord, I pray for Anthony. Thank you, Lord, that even though we sorrow, Lord, we don't have to sorrow and grieve as those who have no hope, that we are not hopeless in our tears. Lord, mourning is good and right, but, Lord, we know that we don't mourn in such a way that we don't have hope. We have the hope of your son, Jesus, and the resurrection. We thank you for that. Lord, we pray that in these days, as Anthony looks to you, that he would be comforted, Lord, that he would continue to be strengthened in his faith and that you would guide him and use him, Lord, in this new season of life that he's in as he continues to seek you and experience your grace. Be with our brother, we pray, in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen. Anthony, thanks for your call and thanks for listening to CORE Christianity.
We do grieve with you for the loss of your wife. By the way, if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life and you haven't been able to call in on this program, well, we're going to be recording a second episode of CORE Christianity here after the live program ends. So you can actually call us for the next 35 minutes or so with your question at 833-843-2673.
That's 833, the CORE. We would love to hear from you. Let's go to Michael in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Michael, what's your question for Adriel? Hi, Pastor Adriel. My name is Michael and my question is, is the spiritual formation movement biblical? After much research, I found that the church is divided on it. Some say it's rooted in mysticism and paganism, while others say it's harmless as long as it's rooted in the word of God. And so I'm hoping that you can unpack this for me.
Thanks. Yeah, Michael, I might go back to you just to get some more clarification in terms of what you mean specifically when you say spiritual formation because I think there's a sense in which we can say all of us are being shaped into the image of Jesus Christ. We sometimes refer to this as sanctification, that daily growing in grace through the means of grace, through the gifts that God gives to us, the word of God, prayer, so on and so forth. It just depends on how we're defining it. How would you define it or see it specifically, Michael, if I can go back to you? I see it exactly the way you see it, but as a result of a ministry by Dallas Willard and others that are associated with spiritual formation, I'm wondering are those ministries and other ministries similar to it offering these resources and retreats if they're legitimate?
Yeah. Well, look, let me just say I'm not super familiar with what he's doing, what's going on at these retreats. Obviously, I think time spent in the word reflecting upon, meditating upon the word of God is clear, so I would just say be discerning. Ask yourself, are the things that are being encouraged here as we're talking about spiritual formation, are these things that are rooted in scripture? Are we talking about growing in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, prayer, seeking God through prayer, that offering up of our desires to the Lord for those things that are in accordance with his will, with the thankful acknowledgement of his mercies, repentance, confession of our sins?
Is that what's being talked about? If that's what's being encouraged, then I would say I'm all for it, man. That's what we need to be doing. We need to be in the word. We need to be praying. We need to be growing in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. But I've also seen instances, and I'm not talking about Dallas Willard specifically here, but just in other contexts where people will kind of get into these, they'll go to these retreats and whatnot, and the focus is not so much God's word, sound doctrine, teaching, time in prayer, or even guided prayer, but something else. And so that's where I think you just need to be discerning.
And it sounds like you are. And so I think as you spend more time looking at this and testing it on the basis of scripture, just think through, would this be good for my spiritual development and growth or not? And so all of us, I think, needs to exercise wisdom, at least as far as this is concerned, and may God bless you and be with you as you do that. Isn't it true you do Gregorian chants at your church on Sundays?
No, just on my own in the shower, Bill. That's when I do those chants. I love that people want to continue to grow as they're studying scripture and we're thinking about prayer and incorporating scripture. We all want to be doing that, brothers and sisters, and so may the Lord bless you and thanks for listening. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at corechristianity.com and click on offers in the menu bar. Or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833, the CORE. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program. And be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's word together.
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