OceanSide church of Christ
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CALLING UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD
Victor M. Eskew
To call on the name of the Lord is essential to salvation. In the first recorded gospel sermon, Peter referred to its necessity. “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). The apostle Paul noted this essential in Romans 10:13. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
The question that must be answered is. “What do Peter and Paul mean when they say one is to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved?” There is one dominate view among the denominational world. They believe that calling on the name of the Lord involves prayer to God for the forgiveness of sins. In a flyer from the Calvary Baptist Church in Harrisburg, Arkansas, we see this view set forth. One section in the flyer is entitled: “GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION.” Five verses are listed to “prove” their position (Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23; Rom. 5:8; Rom. 10:9; and Rom. 10:13). The last verse is the passage that involves one’s calling on the name of the Lord. Following this verse, they write:
“If you would like to accept God’s free gift of salvation, pray this prayer or use words of your own to express repentance and faith.
“Dear God, I know that Jesus is Your Son, and that He died on the cross and was raised from the dead. I know I have sinned and need forgiveness. I am willing to turn from my sins and receive Jesus as my Savior and Lord. Thank you Lord for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
NOTE: We have used this quote to establish the truthfulness of our accusation. This quote is taken verbatim from the flyer mailed to the church’s postal patrons.
If one has not done a study of New Testament conversions, the above teaching could appear to be correct. The Bible does say to call upon the name of the Lord. The Baptist Church has asked individuals to do this. Therefore, their teaching must be right. This is how simply many have reasoned. It is the reason that many have accepted this teaching.
We want to challenge this teaching in this article. There is a verse in the New Testament that we feel must be considered before anyone comes to a hasty conclusion about the phrase, “calling on the name of the Lord.” The verse is found in Acts 22:16. It is a verse that deals with a conversion account. In fact, it deals with the conversion of Saul.
In the context, we find that Paul had entered into the city of Jerusalem. When the Jews saw him, they stirred up the city and sought to kill Paul. The chief captain of the Roman army immediately ran into the mod and took Paul, asking him what he had done. Paul explained who he was and asked permission to speak to the crowd. Permission was granted, and he addressed the Jews in the Hebrew tongue. He explained to them about the events that took place on the road to Damascus. There a bright light shined about him. There, Jesus of Nazareth appeared to him. There he asked the question: “What shall I do, Lord?” There the Lord instructed him to “arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do” (Acts 22:10). Paul did as he was instructed. Three days after the Lord had appeared to him, a man by the name of Ananias entered into his presence. Acts 22:13-16 record his words to Saul. “Brother Saul, receive thy sight…The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see the Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Here we learn that when a man arises and is baptized to wash his sins away, he calls on the name of the Lord. If not, why not?
Now, let’s go back to Acts 2. On the day of Pentecost, Peter had told the Jews that they needed to call on the name of the Lord to be saved (v. 21). Let’s see if we can determine what Peter meant by this. In verses 23-36, Peter continued his exhortation to the Jews. His words were powerful and very effective. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). The answer to this question is very important. The answer explains what it means to call upon the name of the Lord. If our Baptist friends are right, Peter will tell them to pray the sinner’s prayer for salvation. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Peter did not say to pray the sinner’s prayer. Peter told them to repent and be baptized. There were instructed with the same command given to Saul. A close study of every conversion account in Acts will show that baptism was involved in all of them. Never once was a soul told to pray the sinner’s prayer in order to obtain salvation.
This article will anger many of our denominational friends. Denominational teaching has prejudiced their minds. Often they are too proud to admit that they have been wrong. They are completely unable to admit that baptism is essential to salvation. Therefore, they will continue to hold on to their false doctrine instead of accepting the truth. Their stubbornness will not change the truth, however. Ananias’ words to Saul will stand forever. They will be part of that truth that will judge us in the last day (John 12:48). “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).