Thursday, July 12, 2012

Calling on the name of the Lord

“Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine and peter with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:13-21).
Some time ago, another minister and I were eating at a local restaurant. As we ate, we began talking with a waitress. As we tried to witness to her, she began to tell us that, “Everyone gets different things out of the Bible. You interpret it your way, and I interpret it mine.”
The problem with that philosophy is that the Bible becomes a meaningless book if the meaning is left to private interpretation. That’s why Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, informed us plainly that such was NOT the case!
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20).
No one should try to force the Bible to say what THEY want it to say. Rather, it is our obligation to find out GOD’S interpretation of any passage in question.
In far too many instances, once some “scholar” has interpreted a scripture in a certain way, it becomes the accepted interpretation. We must recognize, however, that just because it is “accepted” does not mean it is accurate! Let us, then, begin this study based on the following principle: The only RELIABLE commentary on scripture is another scripture!
Obviously, we must depend solely upon the Word of God as our source of absolute truth. Jesus Himself identified this fact.
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
Even a “majority opinion” does not necessarily determine truth. In fact, Paul admonished us, if necessary, to consider everyone EXCEPT God a liar!
“God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).
Thus, if we want to understand a passage of scripture, we must use other scriptures to gain that understanding. With that in mind, let us look again at our opening passage – especially the last verse.
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
If we truly want to understand this verse, we must forget our traditions, ignore the “scholars,” and look to the scriptures. If “WHOSOEVER” calls on the name of the Lord is saved, what does it mean to “call on the name of the Lord?”
Much of the church world today instructs the lost to pray “the sinner’s prayer,” informing them that THIS is what it means to “call on the name of the Lord.” However, we need to find out if that is what the Bible says.
“Not every one 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).
According to Jesus Christ Himself, “not every one” who simply cries out to Him or prays a simple prayer will actually be saved. Obviously, repeating a simple “sinner’s prayer” is NOT sufficient! Here, Jesus tells us that, while not everyone who cries out to Him will be saved, everyone who “does the will of the Father” WILL BE SAVED!
It is incumbent upon us, then, to find out the “will of the Father” with regard to salvation.
The Apostle Peter gave us some insight about God’s will concerning salvation.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
There are two very important factors which we discover in this verse. (1) God’s will is that NO ONE be lost. He wants EVERYONE to be saved. (Of course, we’ve already learned from Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7, however, that not everyone WILL be saved.) (2) God’s will is that EVERYONE repent!
“Calling on the name of the Lord,” then, MUST include repentance! If praying the sinner’s prayer would keep men from perishing, then Peter would have said it was God’s will that “all should pray the sinner’s prayer.” Instead, he said it is God’s will that “all should come to repentance.”
Repentance involves a number of things. First, it involves a “godly sorrow” for the sins you’ve committed.
“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Second, repentance involves “confessing” AND “forsaking” sin.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
This is NOT confessing to a man, but confessing to God.
To forsake sin, you must literally turn away from it. Thus, if we are going to scripturally “call on the name of the Lord,” we must change our lifestyle.
“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
We MUST obey Jesus if we are to call on His name.
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19).
God is not willing that any should perish, but wants men to repent. If we do not repent, we will perish!
“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
Therefore, the first thing we learn about “calling on the name of the Lord” is that it involves repentance. However, that is not ALL that is involved. The Apostle Paul gave us further insight into what “calling on the name of the Lord” involves when he gave his personal testimony before an angry crowd.
“And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that 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” (Acts 22:12-16).
Paul said that the process of having his sins washed away through baptism was part of “calling on the name of the Lord.” Remembering that we must obey the Lord’s commands in order to truly call on His name, consider the fact that one of His commands was that we be baptized.
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).
Jesus further said that we believe on Him through the words of His apostles.
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (John 17:20).
One of the things His apostles COMMANDED was baptism in His name.
“For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:46-48).
To discover what else is involved in “calling on the name of the Lord,” we will look to the Old Testament prophet Zechariah.
“And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God” (Zechariah 13:9).
I do not plan to get into the full interpretation of this verse, but I want to use it to point out a principle. Fire is a refining agent, and God intends for His people to be refined by fire. Just as a jeweler might use a blow torch to refine gold or silver, God uses the fire of the Holy Ghost to purify His followers.
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11-12).
It should be evident that part of the process of “calling on the name of the Lord” involves receiving the Holy Ghost. Jesus said this would be a part of true believing.
“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” (John 7:38-39).
There is one final thing that needs to be pointed out as a part of “calling on the name of the Lord” according to scriptural definition. Again, we will go to the Old Testament.
“For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent” (Zephaniah 3:9).
The Lord said that He would provide those who call upon His name with a way to do so in a “pure language.” Please name the language that God would define as “pure.” Is there a language on earth which has no profanity? Is there a language which has never been used to tell a lie? Is there a language today that has no words to describe the evil deeds of men? There is none! Obviously, our corrupt tongues cannot be used to adequately call upon the name of the Lord.
When a person repents of his sins, is baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of those sins, God sends the Holy Ghost fire for purification. Notice what happens when the Holy Ghost comes.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
With the baptism of the Spirit comes a new language which is foreign to the new believer. He does not know what the words mean, and has no idea what he is saying. Therefore, he cannot corrupt the language! While speaking in tongues, a person does not know how to curse, lie, or describe wickedness. The utterances are given by the Holy Ghost. When God is speaking through a person, you can rest assured that the language is pure!
Look again at the verse in Zephaniah.
“For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent” (Zephaniah 3:9).
That pure language is given for the purpose that people may “call upon the name of the Lord.” Compare that with our opening passage of Scripture.
“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).
You have to call on the name of the Lord to be saved! Obviously, if you never speak in the “pure language,” you’ve never scripturally “called on the name of the Lord.” Therefore, you are not scripturally saved!
In closing, let us first review what we’ve learned. Then, we will compare those findings to other verses of scripture dealing with salvation and see if everything lines up.
To begin with, we learned that “calling on the name of the Lord” involves: repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name, and receiving the Holy Ghost (which is evidenced by speaking in tongues). When Jesus told Nicodemus what he had to do, notice what was involved.
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
Nicodemus was obviously living a repentant life, yet he still needed baptism and the Holy Ghost.
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
Here, Jesus plainly stated that “EVERYONE” that is born of the Spirit will give off a certain sound. While He did not specifically say “speak in tongues,” there is only ONE sound that consistently accompanies receiving the Holy Ghost.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
“And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:45-46).
“And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:6).
When a penitent multitude asked Peter how to be saved, what response did he give?
“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? 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. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:37-39).
Peter told the crowd to do the very three things we learned were a part of “calling on the name of the Lord” – repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name, and receiving the Holy Ghost! Friend, if you want to be saved, you MUST “call on the name of the Lord.” If you want to scripturally “call on the name of the Lord,” you must repent, be baptized in Jesus’ name, and receive the Holy Ghost, evidenced by speaking in tongues!

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