30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

April 9, 2000

Speaker: Richie Thetford

What Does It Mean to "Call on the Name of the Lord?"

Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" We do appreciate the privilege of coming into your home this morning as we further study the word of God. Hello, this is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, thanking you for listening. Before I forget, I want to let everyone in our listening audience know that beginning next Sunday, April 16th, The Clarksville church of Christ will be having its Spring gospel meeting. Robert Jackson who preaches in Nashville, TN will be doing the preaching. This meeting will be held the 16th through the 19th. Next Sunday we will meet at 9:30 AM for Bible class and then at 10:30 for worship. Instead of having our usual 6:00 PM service we will meet at 2:30 PM for 45 minutes of singing and then listen to the preaching of Robert Jackson. On Monday through Wednesday we will meet at 7:30 PM to once again listen to the word of God proclaimed by brother Jackson. We would love to have you come and visit with us as we study and listen to the gospel of Jesus Christ boldly proclaimed by Robert Jackson.

Many of you in the listening audience this morning have heard the words "Call on the name of the Lord" and you will be saved. Is that true? Is that all that is required in order to gain eternal salvation? What does it really mean to "call on the name of the Lord?" This morning we will look to answer that question by using no other source than the Bible, the word of God. We will not pull out any creed book or any other such manual that you must be aware of, only the Bible. I believe that each and every one of you probably have a Bible in your home that you can use as we study together this morning. It is refreshing to know that the Bible has been our only text that we have used in all of our religious studies together and it is the only book that we will use to show you anything that you need to know in matters of religion. The subject today is no exception. I now invite you to have your Bible handy and be prepared to search the scriptures to find out if the things presented are taught by God.

I introduce our subject this morning by reminding each one that the prophecies of the Old Testament and their application to us are of unlimited value today. It has been correctly said, "The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed." By that we simply mean that the New Testament explains the Old Testament prophecies and their fulfillment. One of the most important prophecies is found in Joel 2:28-32 where it says: "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the remnant whom the LORD calls. Centuries later, Peter stood before a multitude of people on the day of Pentecost and said, "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:" (Acts 2:16). He then makes a direct quotation of Joel 2:28-32. So we are not left to guess what Joel was speaking about. Peter said it was the event that was then taking place. What we understand about Joel must be understood in view of the things that were happening at that moment in time.

Both Joel and Peter, in his quotation of Joel, speaks of the salvation from sin that is being offered to mankind. The events of that day, the pouring out of the Spirit upon the apostles, their ability to speak in languages which they had never studied, the sound of a great rushing wind, all of these things to inaugurate this new system, to introduce the gospel to man, to give man the opportunity to be forgiven from past sins, with the hope of eternity in the presence of Jehovah, all of these now taking place. It should be the desire of everyone, each of you in our listening audience, as well as your neighbors and friends, to experience the forgiveness of sins and to enjoy the expectation of one day being ushered into the very presence of the Father.

But, you will note, this passage shows that human desire must be present. In 2 Peter 3:9 it says,"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." We see from this passage of scripture that God does not want anyone to perish. That being the case, we see that man has freedom of choice. A choice to serve God or a choice not to. We also see that it is clearly stated in Joel, chapter 2 that only those who call upon the lord shall be saved. You will notice that the term "whosoever" is also used in Joel, chapter 2. "Whosoever" includes all people, you and me, and everyone else. God has offered salvation to all. Hebrews 2:9 states "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone." In John 3:16, we have the statement that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." These passages make it very clear that the old Calvinistic doctrine of predestination and foreordination is not founded upon the truth of the Word of God. God did not chose certain ones to be saved and certain ones to be lost before this world began. If that be so, then God is a respecter of persons, yet, Peter states that such is not the case in Acts 10:34. The passages we are looking at, Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:16, likewise make it clear that "whosoever calls shall be saved."

But, what does it mean to "call upon the name of the Lord"? There is a lot of misunderstanding as to how that might be done. Some seem to think that all one has to do is to cry out the name of the Lord in a loud voice. Just address the Lord by shouts and noise. And the louder you are the more apt you are to be heard. The old concept of the mourners bench came into existence with this misunderstanding. The sinner was told to "cry loud to the Lord, and he will hear you." If one but stops and thinks for a moment, this in reality is a contradiction. God is willing to save you, but you must cry out to him to save you. You see, that just does not make good sense. So, we can see, that to "call upon the name of the Lord," does not mean merely to call out His name. It is more than simply speaking the name of the Lord.

"Calling on the name of the Lord" is more than merely praying for salvation. There are many denominational teachings today that say that all one must do in order to be saved is to "call on the name of the Lord," in that they believe in Jesus and then recite a "sinner's prayer." Once this is done, one has "called on the name of the Lord" and has gained eternal salvation. Now friends, where in the Bible does it teach this? I beg of you to show me where the BIBLE states that this is all that one must do in order to gain eternal salvation with our Lord? In Matthew 7:21, Jesus states,"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, buthe who does the will of My Father in heaven." Surely we can see and understand that one saying, Lord, Lord, is addressing the Lord. But Jesus said not all who so address Him shall enter into the Kingdom. Not all who pray are saved and I shall enlarge upon this thought a little later in our study. But here, in this case, Joel and Peter are requiring more than prayer. I am not seeking to detract from prayer, but only to show that the phrase "Calling on the name of the Lord," is not simply prayer.

Friends, I want you to note verse 32 of Joel once again, which says, "whosoever shall call" and"those whom Jehovah doth call." There is not only a calling upon God, but there is also a calling from God. In acts 2:39, as Peter is concluding his sermon, he states, "For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him." How is this call from God manifested unto man? Reading from 2 Thessalonians 2:14, The inspired apostle Paul writes, "to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." Paul states that men and women are called by God through the gospel, which is God's power to save, Romans 1:16. Isn't it nice how all of God's word just fits into place. As we stated in last week's lesson, in order for the puzzle to be complete, we have to use all the pieces.

Now let's take some time to read from the book of Romans, chapter 10, verses 11-15. Here it says: "For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." 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? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!" We see clearly from this passage of scripture that ONLY those who have heard the gospel may call upon the name of the Lord. Friends, please notice again that EVERYONE must call. But now the question before us is this; "what is involved in this calling?"

We can learn from the text that to call upon the name of the Lord is also more than just believing. Did you not hear the inspired writer as he said, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?" Calling is one thing; believing is another thing. They are not the same. One cannot call until one has believed. Belief is necessary before one may call.

That makes another point crystal clear. One is not saved from sins the moment he or she believes in Christ as the Son of God. If so, then one is saved without calling of the name of the Lord. If a person is saved the instant that one believes on Christ, then Paul's statement in Romans 10:14 would be made void and useless.

So, if calling upon the name of the Lord means more than just saying the name of Christ; if it means more than simply praying; if it means more than only believing; what does it mean to call upon the name of the Lord? One may pray, one may believe, yet still not call on the name of the Lord. If that be the case, one is not saved. The case of Cornelius would show this. He prayed, he believed, yet he was not saved until he was taught by Peter what he must do in order to be saved, in order to have his sins forgiven. What was that? The same thing Peter instructed of the Jews on Pentecost and that was to "be baptized for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38).

In order to answer the question "what does it mean to call on the name of the Lord?", I now turn to the conversion of the old persecutor, Saul of Tarsus. Saul, now called Paul, recalls his conversion in Acts, chapter 22. He was intent upon persecuting Christians, putting them into prison, killing them if possible. While on a journey to Damascus for that purpose, the Lord appeared unto him, saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Verse 7) Saul asked the question, "What shall I do, Lord?" (verse 10). The answer given was not "call on the name of the Lord" at that time. But rather the answer was "Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do"(verse 10). Saul shows his faith (or belief) as he arises and goes into the city to wait for further instructions. In Acts 9, we learn that Saul spent three days and nights praying, (Acts 9:9). Again, you will note that prayer did not save him. After three days of praying and fasting, Saul was still in his sins. Here is a man who believes, who prays, yet is not saved. He has yet to call upon the name of the Lord.

To this believer who had been praying for three days, the preacher Ananias came and spoke, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). Ananias told Saul how to call upon the name of the Lord. Calling upon the name of the Lord means that one has heeded the instructions of the Lord and obeyed His commandments. To call upon the name of the Lord means that one is in a right relationship with the Lord and can address Him as a child of God.

There was one thing which Saul had not done as Ananias approached him. Saul had not been baptized for the remission of his sins. And from the study of other scriptures, we learn that all are commanded to be baptized for the remission of sins. Once again, Acts 2:38, reads, "Repent and be baptized, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins." Saul of Tarsus needed to do that. Jesus had given the great commission with these words, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 15:15-16). Saul of Tarsus needed to do that. Once again, all of God's Word fits together in perfect harmony, if we would just put each piece in its place.

It is interesting to note here that the verse in Colossians 3:17 says, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus..." In the name of the Lord means "by the authority of the Lord." So to "call on the name of the Lord" would mean "to respond to the authority of the Lord." When one believes in Jesus, one will then call on Him, to respond to His commandments that He has asked us to do in order to gain salvation. Paul was told to "Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Paul's action of being baptized, resulted in the forgiveness of his sins, because he did this by responding to Christ's authority of directing that one be baptized in order to have sins forgiven. The same authority stated in Matthew 28:18-20 which says, "And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you...."

So, we have answered our question. How does one call upon the name of the Lord? By believing and obeying the commandments of the Lord. Remember, Jesus said,"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."

Although Faith is essential to the salvation of the soul, it takes more than faith to please God. It takes an obedient faith, a working faith. A faith put into action by DOING what God has asked us to do. It takes a faith that will ask, "Lord, what would you have me do?" Although prayer is an essential ingredient for God's Children, prayer will not make one a child of God.

To call upon the name of the Lord does not mean simply to verbalize His name; to say the name of Christ, although one must confess the name of Christ; for did not Paul say, "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10). But, just simply saying His name over and over, is not calling on the name of the Lord. To call upon the name of the Lord means that one has responded to the commands of the Lord, realizing He has all authority, and rendering obedience to them. Those who are saved in this way have the exalted privilege of "Calling upon the name of the Lord," because they did what the Lord asked of them. They have become a child of God by their obedience. My friends in this radio audience this morning, won't you obey the commands of Jesus and DO His will?

This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"