For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved
We can take great comfort in the fact that Jesus died so we could have eternal life. Paul told the Romans that “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord?
The Context of Romans 10:13
Beginning in the first part of the book, Paul argued that the Jews under the Old Law did not keep the Law completely (so as to earn justification) and failed when they tried to establish their own righteousness. Since one cannot earn righteousness because of sin, man needed God to develop a means of removing sin and allowing man to once again live in harmony with Him.
Paul wrote that the righteousness of God is obtained through faith. Faith is belief based on the word of God (Romans 10:9, 14) coupled with obedience to the word (James 2:14-26). Without faith, we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6).
In Romans 10, Paul says that one must believe in Jesus and confess Him before He can be saved. If this were all that was written about salvation, this is all one would have to do. However, there are other passages that tell us what we must do to “call on the name of the Lord.” Some passages tell us that repentance is necessary for salvation. Other passages tell us that we must be baptized and live godly lives in order to have salvation. Let us look at what all of the scriptures say about our salvation. Let us begin with Acts 2.
Romans 10:13 is a quote from Joel 2:32. It is a prophecy that the apostle Peter says was fulfilled after Jesus ascended back into heaven. In Acts 2, Peter quotes Joel 2:28-32 and says that the events that took place that day were the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. From that day, the day that the church was established, Peter and the apostles preached that whoever would call on the name of the Lord would be saved.
Back in Romans 10, Paul wrote that in order to call on the Lord, one had to believe; in order to believe, one had to hear the gospel. Peter, in Acts 2, began to preach about Jesus so the
audience could believe that Jesus, whom they crucified, was the Son of God.
Many in the audience believed the words of Peter and realized that by killing Jesus, they had made themselves enemies of God. They cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They wanted to make peace with Jesus for they had sinned against Him. Remember, from this time forward “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Peter did not tell them to pray and accept Jesus Christ into their heart. I have read many tracts that encourage the reader to commit his life to Jesus then tell him to pray something like this:
“Lord Jesus, I do now by faith accept Thee as my personal Savior. I call on Thee to reign in my heart.”
Though it is good to want Jesus to be in charge of our lives, there is no instance of anyone in the New Testament being told to pray to accept Jesus as their personal savior in order to have salvation. Search the scriptures and you will find this to be true.
Calling on the Name of the Lord
What did Peter tell them to do?
“Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”
They were to call on the name of the Lord by repenting and being baptized in the Lord’s name.
Joel: Call on the name of the Lord => Saved.
Peter: Repent and be baptized => Saved
In Acts 22:16, Paul was told:
Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord
Paul was not baptized because he had called on the name of the Lord, nor was he baptized because his sins had already been washed away (according to the verse they had not been removed). Baptism was part of the calling on the name of the Lord. It was the culmination of his response to Jesus’ call. Of course, this response to the gospel was commanded by Jesus in Mark 16:16:
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned
If we want to call on the name of the Lord, we must do so like Jesus and the apostles taught. Since we cannot find the “Sinner’s Prayer” in the New Testament nor do we find any person who was saved in the New Testament by being told to pray a similar prayer for salvation, we must acknowledge that this approach is man-made, not from God’s authority
To “call on the name of the Lord” is to call for the Lord’s help, namely, to remove our sins. It is more than a verbal acknowledgement of Jesus’ lordship, for some will call Him “Lord” and be lost (Matthew 7:21-23). Calling on the name of the Lord is complete obedience to the gospel for it alone has the power to save us.