Man’s salvation is the purpose of divine revelation. “Salvation” means, deliverance from the power and consequences of sin. Unfortunately, some people, who are traveling in life the road to hell, are enjoying the pleasure of sin too much to give serious consideration to salvation. Others have, by a sinful life, become so guilty in their consciences that they imagine themselves to be hopelessly, helplessly lost in sin. Other people, convicted of sin, sincerely wanting to be saved from the curse of sin, have heard and believed perversions of the gospel relative to salvation.
There are, generally speaking, two divisions of lost people. There are lost religious people and nonreligious lost people.
Nonreligious people are lost in sin because as the Hebrews writer says in Hebrews 11:6, “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” The Lord Jesus Christ minced no words when He declared in John 8:24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Atheists and infidels are on the road to hell, not because God wills it but because they have chosen the way to destruction. There is power in God’s word to make believers of nonbelievers. Listen to John 20:20-31, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” The apostle Paul says in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
There is, however, another class of lost people, and these are the lost religious people. Religion does not save; Christ saves men as the Angel of the Lord told Joseph He would in Matthew 1:21, “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins."
When one studies the book of Acts, he sees several examples of religious people being converted to Christ. Such is true of those about whom we read in Acts 2. The first converts to Christianity were religious people. In fact, the inspired historian identified them as such when he said in Acts 2:5, “And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.”
These religious people were convicted of sin in Acts 2:37, “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" They wanted to know what they needed to do to be saved. When told by the Apostle Peter what to do, they gladly received his word as we read in Acts 2:41, “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”
It seems much easier for some people to accept the truth that nonreligious people are lost than it is for these same people to believe that many religious people are lost. Paul wrote of people who had a “zeal of God” but, since this zeal was not according to knowledge, there people were lost and Paul said in Romans 10:1-3, “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.”
There are people who are lost in religious error, but there are some who are lost because they have erred from the truth. James wrote of those who err from the truth and who need to be converted, or turned back to Christ. The unfaithful Christian who is converted is saved from spiritual death. Listen to the words of James in James 5:19-20, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
Unless someone is lost, there is no such thing as salvation. But men are lost; therefore, salvation from sin’s power, sin’s guilt, and sin’s condemnation is indeed a marvelous possibility for lost people.
The bible is very clear and empathetic on this point: Salvation is dependent on “Calling on the name of the Lord,” or recognizing and respecting the Lordship of Christ. Only as men submit to the Lordship of Christ will they now Him as their personal Savior. The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 5:8-9, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,”
The Nature of sin Demands Authority To Forgive
When sincere people believe God’s testimony concerning the nature of sin, then they will appreciate the fact that the nature of sin demands authority to forgive.
The Bible affirms that sin is a transgression of God’s law as John says in 1 John 3:4, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” This compound word “transgress” literally means “to step across.”
There are certain moral lines or restrictions which have been placed before men. These restrictions have been made in the wisdom of God, and they have been revealed through the Love of God.
The forces of evil, even from the beginning, have questioned God’s goodness in the restriction He has placed on man, Satan deceived Eve into believing that God was selfish in His refusal to give her access to the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
But God, who can see life from a much broader context than man is capable of viewing it, has, in His infinite wisdom and great love for humanity, said with regard to many things, “Thou shalt not!”
The works of the flesh, catalogued in Galatians, chapter 5, are sinful practices. Those who engage in these practices “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
When men in ignorance or arrogance “Step across” God fixed boundaries, they thereby sin because as 1 John 3:4 says, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”
As surely as sin is a transgression of God’s law, then authority for forgiveness is made necessary. No mere emotional response to sin’s guilt will save men from sin. Forgiveness of sin is an act of God., the God who said, concerning the blessing of forgiveness through the New Covenant, in Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
As surely as sin is against God, forgiveness of sin must come from the authority of God.
God’s Testimony concerning Salvation Through The Authority of Christ
The recognition, respect, and response to God’s authority whereby one receives remission of sins is identified in Scripture as “calling on the name of the Lord,” or remission of sins “in the name of Christ.” Apart from the Lordship of Christ, there is no forgiveness of sins.
Several hundred years before Christ came from heaven to earth to become man’s Savior, Joel had predicted in Joel 2:32, “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.”
The apostle Peter quoted this prophecy in Acts 2:21, “And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.'”
Unless and until lost men call on the name of the Lord, salvation remains only a possibility for them. However, a recognition of and response to the Lordship of Christ brings to men forgiveness of sins, peace with God, a valid purpose for life on earth, and the hope of eternal life in heaven.
When the Lord Jesus was giving the Great omission to His apostles, He told them to preach repentance and remission of sins by His authority as we read in Luke 24:47, “"and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
Precious people, this is exactly what the apostles did. After being baptized in the Holy Spirit, according to Joel’s prophecy and Jesus’s promise, these men of God instructed people as Peter says in Acts 2:38, “"Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
God’s word informs and assures us that apart from the name of Christ there is no salvation. Listen to the Word of the Lord in Acts 4:12, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
Sinful Saul was told to respect the authority of Christ in order to receive the forgiveness of his sins. Ananias said to Saul in Acts 22:16, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'”
The apostle Paul quoted Joel’s prophecy, and thereby reiterates the promise in Romans 10:13, “For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
How To Call On The Lord’s Name
There are some necessary steps involved in calling on the Lord’s name. After Paul had promised salvation to those who call on the Lord’s name, he asked, “How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” A moment’s reflection on this inspired question enables the honest heart to see that there is no calling on the Lord’s name apart from belief, but belief alone is not calling on the Lord’s name. The calling is dependent on but not synonymous with belief. In other words, one does not by faith only call on the name of the Lord. One cannot call on the Lord’s name without believing in Him, but one does not call on the Lord’s name by believing.
Now as surely as faith is necessary in calling on the Lord’s name, so teaching is essential to faith; consequently, men will not in ignorance of God’s truth call on the Lord’s name. In Romans 10:14 Paul says, “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?”
Christianity is a taught religion. Men do not learn how to call on the Lord’s name apart from enlightened minds. Calling on the Lord’s name is not done accidentally.
If men can, without first being taught God’s Word, call on the Lord’s name, isn’t it interesting that Jesus said in Luke 24:47, “"and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
A careful reading of Romans 10 enables the honest heart to see that teaching and faith are essential steps in calling on the Lord’s name for salvation.
However, there is a step, dependent on but in addition to faith necessary to “calling on the name of the Lord.” This matter is explained as “obeying the gospel” in Romans 10:16.
Please listen while we read Romans 10:13-16, “For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." 14 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? 15 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!" 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?"
Calling on the name of the Lord is explained as obedience to the gospel. The title “Lord” implies “ruler, or one in position with authority to command.” Jesus said in Luke 6:46, “"But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?”
Why would anyone imagine that calling on the name of the Lord means nothing more than calling the Lord’s name. If Christ is my Lord, I obey Him. Merely calling His name is not calling on His name. It isn’t enough for me to say, “Lord, save me.” But hear the Savior as he says in Matthew 7:21, “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.”
Precious people, there is a fundamental difference in calling the Lord’s name and calling on the name of the Lord; it is the difference between being saved and lost!
Calling on the Lord’s name is, according to Paul, “obeying the gospel.” The “gospel,” called “glad tidings of good things” in Romans 10:15, has fundamental facts that one must believe and compelling commands that one must obey.
Because these facts of the gospel are true, the commands of the gospel are binding. Christ died for the sins of men; therefore, forgiveness of sin or salvation from sin is available to men. In His resurrection from the dead, the Deity of Christ was declared as Paul says in Romans 1:4, “and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
God has made His son Lord and Christ as Peter says in Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." This Lord has authority to state the terms of pardon from sin. The commands of the gospel are these terms of pardon declared by the Lord.
Obedience is based on authority. In giving the Great Commission, in which the Lord stated the commands of the gospel, Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”
Calling on the Lord’s name is, by obedience to the gospel, appealing to His authority for forgiveness of sin. The commands of the gospel set forth by the authority of the Lord make faith a necessity as we read in Mark 16:15-16, “And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Also, Repentance is essential as we read in Luke 24:46-47, “Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” As well, baptism for remission of sins is a requirement as we go back to Mark 16:16, “"He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
One will never “receive Jesus as a personal Savior” until he respects Christ as Lord. One will never really call Jesus “Savior” until he calls upon the name of the Lord.