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A0057_Dont Alter the Altar

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Date:      13th January 2002                                                                                                                                                  Ref: A0057

Place:     Kambah P.S.

Title: Don’t Alter the Altar[i]

Text:        & Ex 20:22-26

Illust:     Evangelist D. L. Moody said that his “greatest mistake” occurred October 8, 1871, On that night in Chicago, he addressed one of the largest crowds of his career. His message was about the Lord’s trial and was based on Pilate’s question, “What shall I do then with Jesus?”  As Moody concluded, he said, “I wish you would seriously consider this subject, for next Sunday we will speak about the Cross, and at that time I’ll inquire, “What will YOU do with Jesus?”” Ira Sankey then sang the closing hymn, which included the lines, “Today the Saviour calls; for refuge fly. The storm of justice falls, and death is nigh.” But the hymn was never finished, for while Sankey was singing, there was the rush and roar of fire engines on the street outside. That was the night of the great Chicago fire which almost destroyed the whole city. And before the next day, Chicago lay in ashes. “I have never since dared,” said Moody, “to give an audience a week to think of their salvation.”

I.                   Simplicity of the Altar

A.               Where God meets Man

i.                 Living for God is not always Mountain top experience, much of life is lived in the valley ~ Altars were places people visited, Tabernacle, Shiloh, Jerusalem – People didn’t live there.

ii.                In OT times they were a raised place a place of sacrifice. – Bethel God met Abraham, Jacob. Men need altars a place unlike any other. A place where we can meet with God & God can meet with us.

iii.              Noah, Abraham, Elijah, Moses, David & a host of others were all altar builders ~ In Joshua 22 we see that the Children of Rueben, Gad & the ½ tribe of Manasseh realise they need an altar otherwise it won’t be long until they loose their identity with the People of God.

B.               A Place of Decision

i.                 While we recognise that the OT altars pointed ultimately to the cross there is another facet of altars that we must understand. That is God wants special places where we make decisions. God wants to bring us to a place where we make decisions.

ii.                Aim of preaching, not to bring instruction, to garner a response. Revelation demands a response. It is the preaching, not the Song Service, or any other thing, Men must respond to revelation

iii.              Elijah on Mt Carmel 1Kg 18:21 Elijah approached the people and said, “How long will you not decide between two choices? (NCV).Some of Moses last words Deut 30:19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live (NIV) This is why we have Altar Calls ~ a place of decision

iv.              In many places they might have a masterful sermon & then they close with a hymn, all conviction dissipates. Preaching is to bring people to a decision ~ If God is going to meet with man, He expects us to do something.

II.                 The Altar

A.               Of Earth

i.                 Altars are simple places, in our text they are to be made of earth – Fra cry from the gold, tapestry, elaborate carvings & candles etc that you see in some places. {Church of the Holy Sepulchre} Jesus warned us that this can lead to more value being placed on the trappings & Mat 23:16-22

ii.                We can have an Altar Call anywhere, our carpet, a street walk, a lounge-room, anywhere & God can show up & meet with people.

B.               No Tools

i.                 I don’t want you to use any tools in the construction; I don’t want you to manufacture anything for my altar. More things are manufactured at Altar Call time. People erect a million excuses not to answer the Altar Call.

ii.                People will do almost anything to avoid the AC. ~ Don’t do that, don’t manufacture reasons to avoid the AC, how can you miss this time, the most important time of the Service where God, wants to meet with you, wants you to make decisions. Don’t distract others. Especially visitors.

C.               No Steps

i.                 Last thing is that there are to be no steps for unlike the Pyramids of Mexico & the other great altars of pagan religion where men ascend, God’s altars are to be places where men descend. They are a place of humility

ii.                There is always going to be an issue of pride at the AC time. God is not going to meet with you in your place of pride. I’ll just pray here in my seat, (there are times) If it’s pride? God won’t, can’t meet with you. ~ No proud way to come down to the altar, no way to be cool answering an AC.

iii.              There are to be no steps, Humility, Every knee shall bow, the whole idea of the Altar Call is that God has convicted us, we go down on our knees, it’s not a prayer meeting it’s an Altar Call.

III.              Significance of the Altar

A.               5 Altars

i.                 We have an OT example of the Christian Life in Abraham. We need to understand that Abrahams relationship with God was directly linked to his relationship to altars..

·        Revelation: & Gen 12:7-8. ~ A Place of Revelation when God met man & gave him revelation. Many of us here this morning.

·        1st Altar the 2nd time: & Gen 13:3-4. ~ Return to the 1st altar. Time had passed, He went back to that 1st place. The President of the AOG wrote a book “Back to the Altar” & challenged his denomination that had drifted from having AC. Not many places give AC’s for Christians. I never want to grow beyond the AC. Thing that is so striking when you go to a conference you see Men & Women who have been in ministry years, go down to the AC. It’s packed.

·        Decision: & Gen 13:14-18. ~ Lot had separated, probably not easy for Abraham to separate from Lot, possibly grieved, vexed ~ processed at an altar. Life can be complicated, times people close to you go in another direction. Like Abraham have to make stands. You go your way, I’m going mine. Issues get resolved @ altar when you meet with God & He gets involved.

·        Under Assault: & Gen 15:11. ~ If it’s powerful & unique it will be a target. Abraham had to fight off the birds of prey. You’ll have to fight them off as well, in your own life & from others.

·        Sacrifice: & Gen 22:9. ~ .God does most of His business with us at an Altar, & it is at the Altar where the greatest sacrifices of life are determined. If you do not contend to meet with God at the Altar you will miss what He is trying to do in your life

B.               Sustaining the Altar Call

i.                 Don’t let it become a formality, Do not allow it to be cold & calculated, don’t get cynical & no longer believe in the Altar Call. We have to maintain a value for these moments.

ii.                In 1Kgs 18 we see the Altar had been broken down & Elijah needed to repair it. When the Altar is broken down bondage, idolatry & backsliding increase. When it’s repaired people meet with God & get their hearts right - What is the condition of the altar in your life?

iii.              What do you do in the Altar Call? Altars are places where people repent, make decisions, get up & do something 1 Kgs 2 we see Joab answer an Altar Call, meant nothing, he was so far from God. ~ God help us if we get to this place. – We need altars, a place where we can meet with God & Him with us. On His terms, where you will humble yourself & say “I yield”

iv.              As I close with this story: A preacher was invited to preach at a church, he flew into Toronto rushed straight to the Church & as he was sitting there @ front, he suddenly though, I know nothing about this church, & what they feel about AC’s. When he finishes he pulls an AC & 7 people respond. As he walks off the platform the wife of one of the council members rebukes him saying “we don’t believe in Altar Calls in this church” He gets a call the next day after he had left telling him that one of the 7 had died that night. His view ~ Thank God for Altar Calls.

IV.             Altar Call


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[i] Pr Richard Ruby, July 2001, Prescott Conference

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