By Larry Ray Hafley
The profound, prophetic promise of Joel was pronounced by the apostle Peter, “And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32). Paul repeated it in Romans 10:13. Any object of the prophets and subject of the apostles dealing with salvation is worthy of conscientious consideration and evaluation. For that reason, we shall study this timely text.
What period of time is it when men shall call on the name of the Lord and be saved? (1) It was not during Joel’s day for he said, “And it shall come to pass afterward” (Joel 2:28). (2) It was not during the personal ministry of Jesus on earth. Jesus, after His resurrection but before His ascension, said that repentance and remission of sins in His name was yet to be preached, but He implied that it was to commence soon (Lk. 24:47-49). (3) The time is now: “Today is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). It has been since the day of Pentecost in Acts 2; Peter said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16-21). Jesus told the apostles they would preach salvation in His name when they received “power from on high” (Lk. 24:46-49; Acts 1:8); that is, “after the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” In Acts 2, the Spirit and the power came. But power to do what? Power to preach remission of sins in the name of Jesus the Christ. So, Acts 2 marks “the beginning at Jerusalem” (cf. Lk. 24:47; Acts 11:15). Since then (not before), and until the last trump shall signal the end of this present world, the time for calling on His name extends.
Who are the people included in this sublime and glorious invitation? Some of God’s covenants with men have been exclusive. (1) Not everyone, for example, was included in the covenant of circumcision or the sabbath (Ex. 31:17; Deut. 5:3). (2) The Jews were the ones to hear the message of the “limited commission,” as it has been called, not the Gentiles or Samaritans (Matt. 10:5). (3) However, all men may call on the name of the Lord and be saved – “For whosoever shall call . . . .” That was Paul’s emphasis in Romans when he cited our text, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him” (Rom. 10:12). “Every creature,” “all nations,” whosoever will” – these and other similar utterances reveal that all men everywhere are amenable to the gospel appeal. The scriptural summons is as broad as God’s grace, as deep as His love and as high as His mercy.
What action is intended by the words “call on the name of the Lord”? (1) It does not mean that nothing is to be done. To call on the name of the Lord implies something. Salvation is conditioned upon one’s calling; hence, there is something one must do to be saved. (2) It does not mean to say, “Lord, Lord,” to cry to Him without obeying His word. Jesus said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46). It is true that calling on the name of the Lord will save, but, “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” (Matt. 7:21). Thus, whatever calling on His name is, it is not done by saying, “Lord, Lord.” According to Jesus, the one who obeys Him is the one who calls on His name. (3) Since Peter first announced that “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” it is proper that we allow him to explain what he meant. When his audience believed, they cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” They knew that whosoever would call on the Lord’s name would be saved; now, they desire to know what to do to call on His name. So, Peter says, “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). This harmonizes with what the believing, penitent Saul was told, “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Since there is no salvation in any other name under heaven (Acts 4:12), we must appeal to His authority, submit to His will, and obey His word (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15,16). Have you been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the remission of sins, calling on His name?
What is the result, the consequence, of calling on His name? (1) The aim is not carnal or worldly. It will not procure or assure physical health or social and economic stability. (2) The effect will not insure against future sin and ruin (1 Cor. 9:27; Gal. 5:4,7; Heb. 10:26-29; 2 Pet. 2:20-22). (3) The purpose of the calling is that one “shall be saved.” Oh, what a glorious thought. What a wonderful knowledge! Every sin, every stain and blot on the soul is washed away by the blood of Christ in the power of His holy name.
“Shall be saved” is equivalent to “the remission of sins,” or “that your sins may be blotted out” (Cf. Acts 2:21, 38; 3:19). Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). Jesus said, “remission of sins” was to be preached “in His name” (Lk. 24:47). Thus, the one who believes on His name and repents and is baptized in His name “for the remission of sins,” “shall be saved” (Cf. Acts 2:21, 38; 10:43).
What inexpressible joy should flood the souls of all who are saved. Are you saved? Have you called on His name as He directs? Before time gasps and dies, before that awesome Judgment day shall find us before the bar of God, will you not call on the name of the Lord and be saved? Do not pillow your head tonight before you resolve your soul’s salvation. Call on the living, loving name of the Lord and be saved while you have the time and opportunity.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 3, pp. 70, 84
February 7, 1985