What The Bible Says "Calling On The Name Of The Lord" Really Means…
Whoever Calls on the Name of the Lord Will be Saved.
It was an ancient prophet who had told of the coming of the Messiah, the one anointed by God to become the world's redeemer. Humanity had become estranged from God because of our sins. The pure righteousness of God demanded this separation, but the love of God made its demands as well. If something could be done to restore harmony between God and His creatures, then God would accomplish it.
The prophet's name was Joel, most probably prophesying around 835 B.C. Joel foretold of the times of the Messiah, including that "And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord Will be delivered" (Joel 2:32).
Because Jesus, the Messiah, has come, we are now in the time of which Joel had spoken. Paul wrote, "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13). Here he quotes Joel's prophecy as he stresses the importance of preaching gospel so people can believe and call on the name of the Lord to be saved from their sins.
So, how is this done? What exactly does it mean to "call upon the name of the Lord"?
First, we need to understand that it does not mean to merely cry out "Lord, Lord." Jesus made that clear (see Matthew 7:21-22). Some suggest that it means to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and to "invite Him into your heart." But is this what the Bible teaches us?
In fact, we can find examples in the Scripture of people calling on the name of the Lord Jesus so that they might be saved through His gospel. The first is in Acts 2. These people were plainly told by the apostles as they quoted Joel's prophecy that they must call on the Lord's name to be saved (Acts 2:21). When they came to believe in Jesus , they asked, "What must we do?" (vs. 37). Specifically, they were told "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (vs. 38). Thus, they "called "upon the Lord's name by their obedient, trusting response to the Lord's invitation issued through His apostles.
Later, when Saul repents, he is asked, "Why do you delay? Arise and be baptized washing away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16). It is by our trusting obedience that we call upon the Lord's name. It is not merely something we think, or believe, or say. It is how we respond to the gospel, reaching out for the hope it graciously offers by our trusting response.
We understand that it is not that our faithful response merits our salvation. Jesus paid the price for us. It is simply the way we make our appeal to God for a good conscience, depending on the power of the resurrection of Jesus. Through that awesome power, we are saved!
"Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-through the resurrection of Jesus Christ," (1 Peter 3:21).
God promised to provide salvation from sin to "all families of the earth" through the seed of Abraham, which is Jesus Christ...