|Vol. 13 No. 10 October 2011||
“And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call thy name” (Acts 9:14). These words were spoken by the disciple Ananias to the Lord in reference to Saul, the former persecutor of the church of Jesus Christ. Saul had authority to cast into prison “all that call thy name,” that is, the name of the Lord. What was it and what is it to “call on thy name”? We can believe with confidence that it is not a mere repeating of the name of the Lord.
On one occasion Jesus stated, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). In Luke 6:46, we read, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” One can readily see that whatever calling on the name of the Lord is, such is more than saying his precious name.
The two passages noted previously greatly emphasize the need of obedience to the commands of the Lord. The first instance wherein we find an inspired man using the prophecy from Joel 2:32 was Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:21). That prophecy was, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Peter continued preaching to his audience that Christ had died and had been resurrected by the power of the Father (Acts 2:23, 24, 32).
Those Jews who believed Peter’s preaching concerning Jesus Christ inquired of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They were instructed to “Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:36-38). Some three thousand souls Sunday 2,000 years ago “gladly received his word” and “were baptized” (Acts 2:41). Thus, the people on Pentecost understood clearly that calling on the name of the Lord was not merely an utterance of his name but it included actions on their part motivated by their faith.
In Romans 10:13, we find the expression used again with reference to calling on the name of the Lord, but one needs to read carefully the context in verses 10 through 15 to understand what is meant by this expression. If we begin with verse 15 and revert back to verse 13, we will understand all that is involved in such a promise and that when one calls on the name of the Lord, salvation will be given. There is the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, the hearing of that message and then the believing of the Gospel.
The calling on the Lord is subsequent to these foregoing requirements and embodies the same. The biblical example that really clarifies this matter is found in the conversion of Saul. Ananias was sent by the Lord to give further instructions to Saul the sinner concerning what to do in order to complete his obedience. In Acts 22:16, we read what was said to this penitent believer, “And, now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” We must come to the inevitable conclusion that cannot be denied and that is, “calling on the name of the Lord” in order to be saved involves God’s scheme of redemption for the alien sinner, namely, faith in Christ, repentance of sins and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.”
“What can wash my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” The apostle John wrote in Revelation 1:5, “…To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” Paul expressed the same in Ephesians 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Paul also stated in Romans 6:3, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” And so it is, when we are immersed into Jesus Christ as the Lord has directed in Mark 16:16, our sins are washed away by the blood of the Lamb. Have you called on the name of the Lord?
[Editor’s Note: The beautiful harmony of passages affirming that we are saved by the blood of Christ and at the same time saved by baptism (1 Peter 3:21) is that through baptism we are symbolically or figuratively placed into the death of Christ (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12) – where our Lord shed His blood (John 19:33-34). It is only then that we are resurrected to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4) as ‘new creatures’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). ~ Louis Rushmore]