Calling on the Name of the Lord
THE EXPRESSION, “Calling on the name of the Lord,” is found three times in the New Testament (Acts 2:21; 22:16; Romans 10:13). It is an expression of trust and reliance. In obedience to the gospel, one is not calling upon water to save him; nor is he calling upon his own meritorious works; rather, he is “calling upon the name of the Lord.” He is placing his trust in the only true source of salvation: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
One does not call upon the name of the Lord through mere belief. In fact, belief is a prerequisite to calling upon His name: “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?” (Romans 10:14).
One does not call upon the name of the Lord by citing the “sinner’s prayer.” The “sinner’s prayer” originated with men rather than with God. One does call upon the name of the Lord through action: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of the Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
One calls upon the name of the Lord when he “trusts and obeys.” After proclaiming, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” Peter told inquiring sinners, “Repent, and be baptized … for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:21, 38). Since salvation results from calling on the name of the Lord and also from repenting and being baptized, an obvious link exists between the two. This link is further confirmed in Acts 22:16: “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” It should be observed that these were words spoken by Ananias to a praying Saul of Tarsus. Saul was not to call upon the name of the Lord through continued praying, but through arising and being baptized.
Trust is the key element. One may be baptized, trusting the merit of his works for salvation. Such a person is not calling on the name of the Lord. Another is baptized, looking to Jesus for salvation, placing his trust in the promise of God and efficacy of Christ’s blood. This is the person who truly obeys the gospel and, in so doing, calls upon the name of the Lord.
One’s calling upon the name of the Lord, however, is not not completed at the point of baptism. One continues to call upon His name through living as a Christian. Ananias said of Saul’s intent in going to Damascus: “And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name” (Acts 9:14). Christians can be described, then, as those who call on the Lord’s name. This implies ongoing action. The whole of one’s life as a Christian is to be built on trust. As one lives a godly life, worships, prays, works, and seeks to do God’s will, he must do so, not trusting the merit of his own righteousness, but placing his trust in the Lord. In so living, he is calling, not on himself, but on the name of the Lord.
The Promise Is To All
The word “whosoever” must not be overlooked. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” Paul wrote to the Romans (Romans 10:13). Paul’s primary purpose in quoting this passage was to show that salvation was for both Jew and Gentile and that the word “whosoever” in the prophecy implied the necessity of preaching to both Jew and Gentile. No one is excluded. The promise is for all: for people of all nations, for rich and for poor, for educated and uneducated, for moral and immoral (if they will repent of their immorality), for the mighty and the lowly. Thank God! All can call upon the name of the Lord. All can be saved.