Calling on the Name of the Lord

What does it mean to “call on the name of the Lord?” Denominationalism is flooded with institutions and individuals that proclaim this means to approach Christ in prayer, asking Him to forgive one’s sins and come into one’s heart for the purpose of being his “personal Savior.” Usually, Romans 10:13 is quoted as a proof text for this teaching: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Bear in mind that the phrase is found elsewhere in the Bible and to more easily understand its meaning in Romans, one might consider how it’s used in some of those other places as well.

For example, to emphasize the universal nature of the gospel, Paul in Romans 10 is quoting Joel 2:32. Another New Testament spokesman who quoted Joel was Peter (Acts 2:21). Peter was preaching to those who were guilty of shedding the innocent blood of Jesus. Upon realizing the severity of their crime, the convicted crowd cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They knew they were guilty and they knew they needed forgiveness. In addition, they had heard Peter quote Joel, saying, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” So, what was Peter’s response to their question? Did he tell them to pray to Jesus for forgiveness? Did he command them to ask Christ to come into their hearts as their personal Savior? No! He told them to “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Here is inspired commentary on the phrase, “call on the name of the Lord.” According to Peter, who was speaking by inspiration, calling on the name of the Lord is appealing to, and complying with, the authority of the Lord. In the case under consideration, it meant repenting and being baptized.

What about you? Are you one who calls on the name of the Lord (I Cor. 1:2)? That is, are you one who obeys the Christ? If not, why not determine to follow the example of those 3,000 on the day of Pentecost?

 –Preston Silcox

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