A Question Answered by Robert Turner:

“Please comment on what is meant by `calling on the name of the Lord.” (WV).

Reply:

I suppose I should first make the usual comment, and one most obvious to serious students. The verbal expression, “Lord, Lord!” is not what is under consideration, although one who truly “calls on” the Lord may be moved to such an expression. Jesus said, “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” (Matt. 7:21).

One cannot “call” except he believe; and this kind of faith demands an objective approach to external evidence or testimony (Rom. 10:13-17). It is gendered by teaching; not by an “experience of faith” which is usually an emotional feeling, stirred in those who expect God to operate upon them in an immediate fashion. Paul was “calling on the name of the Lord” when he was baptized, and in that act of submissive obedience (Acts 22:16).

But we have not exhausted the meaning of “calling upon the Lord” when we cite such cases. The “name” of the Lord refers to Christ as “means” or “power” by which a thing is accomplished (Acts 4:7-10). When Peter said, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (v. 12), he was not giving us the “label” to put on the church building. He was saying we are saved through God’s mercies, extended in Christ, or not at all. It is by HIM -- His death in our behalf -- His intercession at God’s throne -- His “way, truth, life” -- that man may be saved; hence, “in His name.”

Now “calling on His name” means to look to Him for salvation, putting our trust in Him. If we “call upon the Law” to protect us, we depend on the law and its operation. If the police says, “Halt, in the name of the law!” he is saying by the authority of the law, and subject to its power. Samuel reminded the Israelites of past times when they “cried unto Jehovah” for deliverance; but now they wanted a king (like other nations) to save them from their enemies (1 Sam. 12:6-15). He said, “If ye will fear Jehovah, and serve him, and hearken unto his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of Jehovah, and...be followers of Jehovah your God, well.” That is what Old Testament writers meant by “calling on the Lord.” Joel said, “whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered” (Joel 2:32); and Peter quoted this to show that salvation in Christ was of universal application (Acts 2:16,21). When he was asked what men must do, he replied, “Repent and be baptized” (2:38-f). There is no legitimate reasonfor anyone to think that a verbal outcry, or prayer alone, is “calling upon the name of the Lord.”

Those who look to Christ for their salvation are heeders, learners, and followers of Christ. They realize He has content, that He has spoken words by which they shall be judged in the last day. They believe, and obey, and thus “call upon the name of the Lord.” — Via Plain Talk, May 1981

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