View Additional "Plain Talk"  TOPICS:

Home Page


Plain Talk About

Calling on the Name of the Lord


And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.          (Acts 2: 21) 

What does this mean? 

A large portion of the Christian community equates calling on the name of the Lord with prayer alone.  The Christian Broadcasting Network with Pat Robertson considers this and (Romans 10: 13) to be the basis of the “sinners prayer,” a prayer to accept Jesus into your heart to be saved. But is prayer all that is meant by calling on the name of the Lord?

 This view seems to have several deficiencies:

Many apparently believe that all one must do is call out, “Lord, Lord,” and they will be allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven.  But Jesus said that only those who have done the will of the Father in heaven would be allowed to enter.  Not even teaching and prophesying in His name, nor casting out neither demons, nor working miracles will suffice.  (Matthew 7: 21- 23)

Then we have the statement of John, which is quite surprising to the modern ear, that Jesus is received by believing in His name, not praying.  And even then the individual is not saved; they are given the right, however, to become a child of God and be saved.    Apparently there is something else that must be done beyond receiving Jesus to be saved.  That something else is repentance and baptism in water.  (John 1: 12, 13; Acts 2: 38)


But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right o become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born (begotten) not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  (John 1: 12, 13)

Well if calling on the name of the Lord is none of those things, where do we go?  We must go back to that first Pentecost recorded in Acts 2.  The Apostle Peter emphasizes two great truths from the prophecy of Joel:

Then Peter began his sermon about Jesus of Nazareth who was attested to you by God:

·         By miracles, wonders and signs with which his audience knew.

 He concluded his remarks by stating that the Jews, his audience, had been complicit in the death of this Jesus who had been made both Lord and Christ and had poured forth that which they had both seen and heard that day.   The Jews were pierced to the heart and asked the apostles what they should do.

 And Peter said to them, “Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”    Acts 2: 38)

Plain Talk holds that by repenting and being baptized in the name of Jesus they were calling on the Lord to blot out and wash away theirs sins, giving them a good conscience.  This is confirmed by the events in the conversion of Saul (Paul).  The passage specifically states that he was calling on the name of the Lord when he was baptized.

And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on Hid name.  (Acts 22: 16)

This conclusion is further confirmed by Peter’s statement that baptism, which saves, is an appeal to God for a good conscience. 

And 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)

Is the “sinners prayer” a substitute for baptism in water?

Jesus upon receiving all authority in heaven and on earth did authorize baptism in the disciple making process.  No one, including Pat Robertson, has a right to change or substitute for baptism. 

 Does faith precede calling on the name of the Lord?  If that is true and if calling on the name of the Lord saves us, then salvation is not by faith alone.  We are saved by faith when that faith produces the obedience of faith, repentance and baptism.

For, “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”  How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?            (Romans 10: 13, 14)

When does water and Spirit come into proximity so that we can enter the kingdom of God?  The Spirit is poured out at baptism in water.  As we come forth from that experience we are born of water and the Spirit.

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  (John 3: 5)

We learn several things from these verses:

 WE Vine tells us that us in AN EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESYAMENT WORDS, PG 109, that the Greek language uses the same word, gennao, for both beget and birth.  The translations do not always make clear which is intended.  Spiritually God begets us through the word of God when we come to faith, but we are born again, becoming a child of God, when we are born of water and the Spirit. In the natural realm the two events are separated by the gestation period of nine months and ten days.  Amazingly I read and hear my brethren speaking of being born of the Spirit in John 3: 5 as if it is a begettal.  If “born” is a birth in reference to born of water, then it also refers to a birth in reference to born of the Spirit; the two are connected by the conjunction and.

 Old Testament

Began calling on the name of the Lord when Seth’s son Enoch was born.  (Genesis 4: 6)

Abraham called on the name of the Lord by building an altar.  (Genesis 12: 8: 13: 4)

Isaac called on the name of the Lord by building an altar.  (Genesis 26: 25)

Men called upon the name of their gods other than the one God.  (1 Kings 18: 24- 26; Jonah 1: 6)

Naaman thought that Elisha would heal his leprosy by standing and calling on the name of the Lord, waving his hand over the spot and cure him of his leprosy.  Instead he was told to wash seven times in the Jordan River.  (2 Kings 5: 9- 14)

Often calling on the name of the Lord seems to be primarily a prayer:  (1 Chronicles 16; 8; Psalm 14: 4; 17: 6; 53: 4; 79: 6; 80: 18; 99: 6; 105: 1; 116: 2, 4, 13, 17; 120: 1; 145: 18; Isaiah 12: 4; 41: 25; 62: 6; 64: 7; 65: 1; Jeremiah 10: 25; Lamentations 3: 55; Hosea 7: 7; Zephaniah 3: 9; Zechariah 13: 9)

Building an altar and offering a sacrifice: (1 Kings 18: 24- 40; 1 Chronicles 21: 26)

Repentance (Isaiah 55: 6, 7)

This is our mystery verse.  (Joel 2: 32) 


Often in the Old Testament, calling on the name of the Lord refers to prayer, thanksgiving and praise sometimes including building an altar and sacrifice.  We are not trying to suggest that prayer is not appropriate but we can also see that Joel 2: 32 means more than saying, “Lord, Lord.”  Faith without works, the obedience of faith, is dead and useless.  (James 2: 14- 26)

 We are told that God gives the Holy Spirit to those that ask (Luke 11: 13); we ask by believing (John 7: 39), obeying (Acts 5: 32), repenting and being baptized. (Acts 2: 38)  These are the factors involved in receiving the Spirit.


Calling on the name of the Lord:

  God Bless.

Arland  Pafford  


Please contact us if we can be of assistance:


Plain Talk 

PO Box 1182

Oakdale, CA 95361


Last Update   10/11/12