The Real “Mourner’s Bench”

There is nothing wrong with feeling sorrow when it comes to sins that have been committed. After all, 2 Corinthians 7:10 does teach that a godly sorrow leads to a repentance that leads toward salvation.

A proper sorrow leads to a proper determination about sin in our life. Biblical sorrow has led an untold number of souls to Jesus for salvation. This is, in part, the whole call of the Gospel. But one practice in the religious world that has its roots in sorrow but not in the scriptures is the call that one may hear to the “mourner’s bench” (a.k.a. the altar call).

A godly sorrow over sin leads us to the throne in Heaven, not a bench at the foot of a pulpit in a church building:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:12-16)

When the Holy Spirit uses His word to cut at our heart we should act on the sorrow that follows; but our actions should be according to the scriptures. Confession is truly good for the soul, and our prayers for one another can have a great purpose (James 5:16), but the need for confession leads no closer to the “mourner’s bench” than it does the “confession booth.”

I say what I say to provoke honest thoughts about sorrow – not to hurt feelings that lead to nowhere. Trade your tradition for the scriptures and the “mourner’s bench” for the mourner’s throne! EA

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