Calling on the Name

By

Shelby G. Floyd

Call on the Name

Many preachers teach that one is saved by merely professing a faith in Christ—and they call that salvation—calling on the name of the Lord. To uphold this concept of salvation they refer to a favorite verse in Romans 10:13 that says, “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”-NKJV. But is this all that one must do in order to be saved from past sins? Is this what the Bible means by the phrase “calling on the name?” It is my declared conviction that this alone is not sufficient to save one from sin.

My proof is that even Jesus himself declared that just professing his name alone would not save anyone:

Matthew 7:21
Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven.
NIV

And on another occasion Jesus said to his disciples, “Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say” (Luke 6:46)? These verses and many more teach explicitly that the conditions of salvation from sin require much more than simply calling “Lord, Lord!”

But having said this, I must also declare that it is true that there is no other name by which we are to be saved. But the big question is, “What does it mean to be saved by calling on the name of the Lord?” My purpose in this lesson is to answer that question by the plain teaching of the word of God.

NO OTHER NAME

The New Testament book of Acts of Apostles teaches that there is no other name by which man may be saved other than the name of Jesus Christ. After Jesus ascended back to his Father in heaven the apostles went forth to carry out the great commission—to take the gospel to every person in the entire world. We have the record of Peter and John speaking to the people the wonderful name of Jesus Christ. The Sadducees, the priests and the captain of the temple came and arrested Peter and John and put them in custody (Acts 4:1-4).

The next day the Sanhedrin assembled with Peter and John and asked them by what name they had healed a lame man. The apostle Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and replied in no uncertain way,

“…let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12 ESV).

This statement is either true or false. We believe that it is true. Therefore no one can be saved by any name of any religious leader other than Jesus Christ—“for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved!”

PENTECOST SUNDAY

The birthday of the church of Christ is recorded in Acts of Apostles chapter two. The promise in the Old Testament that the kingdom of God or the church would be established is recorded in Isaiah chapter two, Daniel chapter two, and Joel chapter two. This great promise is fulfilled in Acts chapter two. The apostle Peter stood up with the eleven apostles and lifted up his voice and preached the opening conditions of salvation and induction into the church. He quotes a long section of Joel’s prophecy (Acts 2:17-21), as confirmation of the things that were taking place on this memorable day.

It is in Acts 2:21 that we especially want to focus. Joel declared, “That whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Therefore, the statement in Acts 2:21 agrees exactly with our text in Romans 10:13, “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But, some preacher will say, “See, I told you, all anyone needs to do, is to call on the name of the Lord and he shall be saved!”

Wait; do not be too hasty in drawing your conclusion. As G. K. Wallace would say, “A text taken out of context is a mere pretext!” In the context of Peter’s Pentecost Sunday sermon he convicted his audience of having murdered Jesus Christ the son of God: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified”(Acts 2:36).

It is at this point that the audience cried out,

Acts 2:37-41
37Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
ESV

Now we see in Peter’s answer to the question of his audience, what it means to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved. According to Acts 2:38 the person who calls upon the name of the Lord and is saved is the person who will repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins! Let us summarize the plain truth that these two verses teach and are therefore in harmony:

Where?                          Acts 2:21                                           Acts 2:38

Who?                             Whoever                                       Every one of you

What?                            Calls on                                     Repent and be baptized

How?                    the name of the Lord                        in the name of Jesus Christ

Why?                        Shall be saved                            For the forgiveness of your sins

That is what it means to call on the name of the Lord and be saved as stated in Acts 2:21 and Acts 2:38. The person who calls on the name of the Lord and is saved is the same person who in faith repents of sin and is baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

WHOSOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME

Let us now go back to our original text in Romans 10:13 and take a closer look at what is taught in the context. And then we will also demonstrate that the plain teaching of Romans 10: 13 harmonizes with Acts 2:38.

Our Mouth and Heart

In Romans 10:6-8 the apostle Paul makes use of a statement of Moses in which he commanded the Israelites to believe and obey his message because it was near them and not difficult:

Romans 10:6-8
6 But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7 or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’”[b] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
NKJV

This is almost a verbatim quotation from the statement of Moses found in Deuteronomy 30:12-14. Paul applies the reasoning of Moses to his audience in reference to Christ. The idea is that the word of faith is very close and easy to understand and obey. No one needs to ask who will go up into heaven and bring Christ down in order that they might believe. And no one can say who will go down into the abyss to bring Christ up from the dead in order that they might believe. No one can say that because the “word of faith” is very near our mouth and our heart. Salvation is therefore as near as our mouth and our heart!

Confess With You Mouth and Believe in Your Heart

But what does it mean to say that “the word of faith” is near your mouth and in your heart? That is a logical question to ask for those who want to be saved from their sins. Therefore the apostle Paul answers that question in very plain language:

Romans 10:9-13
9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

How is the word of faith near our mouth and heart? Based upon all the evidence that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead those who believe in their heart that great fact can make the good confession. Peter made the good confession when he affirmed that Jesus is the Christ the son of the living God (Matthew 16:13-19). Jesus said that he would confess us before his Father if we would confess him before men (Matthew 10:32-33). And we read that Timothy and even Jesus himself made the good confession before Pontius Pilate (1 Timothy 5:12-13).

Having explained what it means to have “the word of faith” near our mouth and in our heart, Paul summarizes what it means to call upon the name of the Lord and to be saved:

Romans 10:12-13
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
NKJV

In these two verses to call on the name of the Lord and to be saved involves faith in the heart and making the good confession with the mouth. But we have already established that to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved involves repentance and baptism:

Acts 2:38
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
NKJV

Let us now summarize in the following chart the harmony between Romans 10:13 and Acts 2:38:

Where?                 Romans 10:9-13                                                Acts 2:38
                                                         
Who?                     
Everyone who                                               Every one of you
                                                         
What? 
Calls in faith and makes the good confession           Repent and be baptized
                                                         
How?            
On the name of the Lord                              In the name of Jesus Christ
                                                         
Why?                  
Will be saved                                           For the remission of sins

Therefore, these two verses teach that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord in faith and makes the good confession in repentance and water baptism will have their sins remitted and will therefore be saved. Now let us look at what goes before any of this can take place.

ANTECEDENTS TO CALLING ON THE NAME

With divine inspiration the great apostle Paul wraps up his argument on whoever calls on the name the Lord shall be saved by summarizing all of the antecedents to salvation:

Romans 10:13-17
13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
NKJV

Romans 10:13 For whoever Calls On the name of the Lord Shall be saved
Romans 10:14 How then shall they Call On him in whom They have not believed
Romans 10:14 And how shall they Believe In him of whom They have not heard
Romans 10:14 And how shall they Hear Without a preacher
Romans 10:15 And how shall they Preach Unless they are sent
Romans 10:16 But they have not all Obeyed The gospel Lord who has believed our report?
Romans 10:17 Whoever – understood Faith Comes by hearing And hearing by the word of God

From this formal induction of facts we see what is required in order to have the word of faith in our heart and mouth and call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. We just reverse the order that is listed in the chart above. All men must obey the gospel (Hebrews 5:8-9), but in order to obey the gospel a preacher must be sent out to preach the word. A preacher is necessary because how can anyone hear the word without a preacher presenting the word? But when man hears the word of faith with its attendant evidence he can believe with all of his heart that Jesus is the Christ the son of God. It is only after obeying all the conditions of the gospel (hearing, believing, repenting, confessing and being baptized) that a person can call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.

SAUL (PAUL) OF TARSUS

We have one more example of what it means to call upon the name of the Lord and to be saved. Saul of Tarsus was the preeminent persecutor of the struggling church in Acts of apostles. He obtained letters of authority from the chief priests and went as far as Damascus, Syria to persecute everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord (Acts 9:1-18). The full story of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus is revealed in Acts 9, Acts 22, and Acts 26.

Luke the historian who wrote the book of Acts declares that the Lord spoke to Ananias and commanded him to go to the place where Saul of Tarsus was in deep penitence and praying. After Ananias had delivered his message and had gone on his journey, Luke says, “and immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received his sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized” (Acts 9:18 KJV).

But when Saul of Tarsus described his own eyewitness account of his conversion he declares that Ananias asked him,

Acts 22:16
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.
NIV

Please notice that “calling on his name” involved getting up, being baptized and washing away his sins!

Now let us be reminded again of the words of our beginning text in Romans 10:13: “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”—NKJV. Let us once again demonstrate the harmony between Romans 10:13 and Acts 22:16.

Where?                 Romans 10:13                                            Acts 22:16

Who?                    Whosoever                                        What are you waiting for

What?                       Calls                                                 Get up, be baptized

How?              On the name of the Lord                           Calling on his name

Why?                  Shall be saved                                    And wash away your sins

When we focus upon all of the words in the command of the Lord from Ananias, we notice the following are very important to those who are considering becoming a Christian.

“AND NOW”

Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but now– today is the time when every person should take care of their spiritual security. To the Corinthian congregation Paul declared “in the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I help you. I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV).

“WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?”

In all of life’s endeavors many people fail because they do not seize the moment–carpe deim! Too many people wait to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved. And often the opportunity is lost for ever.

“GET UP AND BE BAPTIZED”

When Ananias spoke to Saul and said, “get up and be baptized,” this is a command in the imperative mood. When Ananias gave this command to Saul of Tarsus he was praying in penitence. But in the New Testament no alien sinner was ever commanded to pray in order to be saved. They were rather told to believe, repent, confess their faith, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

“WASH YOUR SINS AWAY”

Obviously the sins of Saul of Tarsus (and they were many), were not washed away when he first met Jesus on the Damascus Road. If he was saved the moment he believed he was saved while he was still in his sins. Neither Jesus nor Ananias thought he was saved until he was told to get up and be baptized and wash away his sins. This is so obvious that it is amazing that anyone would contradict baptism as a condition of washing away your sins and calling on the name of the Lord to be saved.

Water baptism for forgiveness of sins is a spiritual washing (Titus 3:4-5). The apostle Peter in agreement with Paul and Luke the author of Acts of apostles, describes his spiritual washing:

1 Peter 3:21
There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
NKJV

We can have a good conscience when we obey God by confessing our faith in Christ and being baptized, calling on the name of the Lord with the knowledge that we have been saved from our past sins.*

*Copyright © 2014 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved

Shelby G. Floyd presented this sermon Sunday, July 27, 2014 at the Heartland church of Christ, 1693 West Main St., Greenwood, IN 46142

Shelby Preaching

Shelby G. Floyd

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