Calling on the Name of the Lord
by Richard Thetford
I am sure that our readers have heard people say words to the effect, "If you are not a Christian, all you need to do is call upon the name of the Lord, and you can be saved." Some will tell you to say, "Lord be merciful to me a sinner," or similar things. Their teaching is a misapplication of what is said in Romans 10:13. The apostle Paul wrote, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." What does it mean to call upon the name of the Lord? Let us read the context of Romans 10 and find out.
"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call upon 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? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:13-17).
Please notice that after the apostle Paul says we must call upon the name of
the Lord to be saved, he asks a series of questions that point out what it
means to call upon the name of the Lord. To call upon the name of the Lord
we must: 1) hear the gospel, 2) believe the gospel, and 3) obey the gospel! Therefore, calling upon the name of the Lord is a comprehensive thing, not simply saying the name, "Lord." In Acts 2:21 we read the same phrase. Here, Peter quotes Joel 2:28-32. Peter shows that the events happening at this time on the day of Pentecost were a fulfillment of Joel's prophecy (v. 16), and said, "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved".
What did he mean? Were they commanded to simply say, "Lord"? No! They were told to "hear these words" (Acts 2:22). Peter then proves that Jesus truly is the Son of God (v. 23-35), and said, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). To "know assuredly" is to believe. When the people asked what they needed to do to be forgiven of murdering the Son of God, Peter said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, .... Then they that gladly received his word were baptized..." (Acts 2:38-41).
Therefore, when one calls upon the name of the Lord, he is simply obeying God's plan of salvation to hear God's word, believe that Jesus is the Son of God, repent and be baptized! Is this not simple? Of course, it is! Let us be about encouraging people to call upon the name of the Lord as the Bible directs us to do that all might be saved before it is too late (II Peter 3:9)!