By Weldon Warnock
Time and time again we hear denominational preachers say something like this: “You out there in radio land, if you are lost, and don t know the Lord, just fall down on your knees and call upon the name of the Lord, and he will save your soul.” Obviously, these preachers have no idea what calling on the name of the Lord entails.
On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter quoted Joel, who said, among other things, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). This quotation “call on the name of the Lord” denotes what is to be done, not what is to be said. To call on the name of the Lord is to appeal to his authority. The word “call” in Acts 2:21 does not mean “pray.” Rather, it suggests the idea of an appeal. The phrase “call on” is a translation of the Greek word epikaleo. This is the Greek word Paul uses in Acts 25:11 when he appealed to or called upon Caesar. Here Paul was appealing to the authority of Caesar to adjudicate his case. In like manner, when we call upon the name of the Lord, we appeal to his authority and power as he is the only one who can save. Peter said there is none other name whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
If calling on the name of the Lord means to pray in order to be saved, such as in the front of your radio, TV, at an old fashion mourner’s bench, driving along in your car, in a hospital room, etc., why did Peter tell those on Pentecost to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)? In verse 21 Peter said, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” but a few verses later, in response to the question, “Men and brethren, what shall we do”?, he told this same audience to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. Why did he not tell them to pray, if to call (v. 21) is to pray? What Peter commands in verse 38 is what is involved in the calling in verse 21. Their turning to the authority of the Lord in their obedience to the gospel was the calling.
Paul shows that no one can call who does not believe, and one cannot believe unless he hears, and how shall he hear without a preacher (Rom. 10:13-14)? This is the process of calling. Somebody says, “Baptism is not mentioned here.” Well, neither is repentance. Are you ready to omit repentance? This passage does not state specifically all that the Bible says on the conditions of salvation.
Ananias told Saul of Tarsus in the process of his conversion, “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16)! Is this the way you called on the name of the Lord? Paul’s calling was what he did, not what he said.
Friends, there are preachers who will lie (1 Tim. 4:2). Others are misguided, ignorant of what the Bible teaches. John wrote, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). When a preacher tells you that an alien sinner can be saved by prayer, he is preaching another gospel (Gal. 1:8).
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