Vol.VI No.XII Pg.4
February 1970

Are Responses Wrong?

Robert F. Turner

Along with most preachers, I have noticed the increase in the number of restorations in response to the invitation. In the past year, more than thirty of the 200 members of the church for which I preach have come forward to ask for the prayers of the congregation. Did they do wrong in coming? It seems highly unlikely. Who would accuse anyone of sinning in confessing sin?

There are, however, two circumstances under which restorations, while not absolutely wrong, may be harmful to those who respond to the invitation.

If coming forward is substituted for real repentance or a true confession of sin, then it hurts more than it helps. Sometimes Christians make a general confession of sins in public when they should confess a specific sin to a particular individual (Matt. 5: 23,24). Sometimes they give no indication of why they came forward. At other times, it appears that coming forward has been substituted for repentance, because no change is apparent in the life of the individual who has responded. These practices are harmful to the individual because they may lead him to believe he has forgiveness when he has not actually met the conditions of forgiveness.

If public prayer is substituted for private prayer, then the person who responds lives without the peace he ought to have. I believe the reason why many Christians respond to the invitation is that they do not enjoy the Blessed Assurance, the peace that passeth understanding, the joy that comes from daily living with Christ. They fail to pray privately for forgiveness, and then feel that they should ask for the prayers of the church. They should be taught to seek Gods help, guidance, and forgiveness daily. If they did, they would not feel the need to be restored.

The prayers of the church are appropriate for any Christian at any time. But if an individual Christian substitutes the prayers of the church for repentance or for his private prayers, he robs himself of Gods blessings.


The above, written by Coy D. Roper and published in the Firm Foundation Nov. 9, 1965, caught my attention as I was checking a highly erroneous article on the Holy Spirit, by Arlie Hoover. (One which the F.F. never corrected. ) Well, out of the lion came forth honey.

I had been considering writing an article on the misuse of coming forward but felt this deserved repeating, so moved over for bro. Roper.

With responses so scarce, it seems ridiculous to say anything that may discourage them; but we aim for the heart, that the external response may have meaning before God. Neither baptism nor repentance-and-confession must be allowed to degenerate into a form of godliness that denies the power thereof. (2 Tim. 3:5) It is God who forgives, through Christ, and not through the church.