I recently heard two public proclamations of what most people have come to believe and upon which most also stake the well being of their souls. The good folks I heard on these two separate occasions each appealed to passages in Paul’s letter to the Roman church. They intimated that this was the center and the instructions for salvation; noting that if you accepted Jesus in the same way as listed in the passages they read and offered, then you would be saved. Case closed.
Because if you confess the Lord Jesus with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses unto salvation
For everyone whoever may call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
(Romans 10: 9 – 10, 13)
One occurrence had taken place at a work site, the other occurred a few days later at a funeral. The first came with an appeal toward the end of days. The Kingdom of Heaven, with world headquarters to be located in Jerusalem, was now (once again?) on the verge of being established in time worn Palestine, I was told. This would occur in the next year or two at the very most. The second came during the now obligatory spontaneous memorials at a funeral, in the instruction of two women, both friends of the deceased. The intriguing part was that all three protagonists claimed to spend a lot of their time reading the Will of God. They had each arrived at the same places, but with differing explanations of some of the details. I somehow arrived somewhere else through my own reading.
These well meaning people, like many others, had all managed to reduce the Word of God down to a single principle located in just three short sentences. One quotes the prophet Joel: For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
In the same Bible these three persons use, is found the conversion of Paul, told once through other eyes and twice through Paul’s quoted testimony before governing authorities and as recounted by witnesses. Paul was unique in that he was the only person to see the Lord once Jesus had ascended and again taken up His rightful place on the Throne of Heaven, as both Lord and King.
It seems that Paul was not in good enough mental shape to be able to distinguish that he had just been saved when he first believed and confessed Jesus as His Lord (which occurred while he was prostrate outside of the walls of Damascus in response to the overwhelming display that had been set before him). That sure sounds like a confession and subjection to the power evidenced before him. Paul had already asked the identity behind the voice, and his question had been answered succinctly. Jesus then told him, Go into the city and you will be told what you must do. What in fact did he then do? There were no options offered. Do you suppose that at this very moment Paul didn’t quite get that Jesus was in fact who he had claimed to be while he had been on earth? Was Paul hesitant? Was he holding out for more information and a seat in a new converts class? Do you believe he thought it was a trick?
Three days later Paul said he was baptized to wash away (his) sins. The prophet had asked him, Paul, what are you waiting for? Apparently Ananias felt that proof of Paul’s faith had already been established and was in plain view. Get up and be immersed and wash away your sins calling on the name of the Lord. If Paul’s first confession had not been heard, Ananias had just told him to call upon Jesus while he was going through baptism.
Reading this I sense some urgency; how about you? And as I told the first person of these three mentioned; it is about sin and obedience. So, around the Vandagriff household we wash the dirty stuff: clothes, people, pets, dishes, etc. etc.
Hearing, belief, repentance, confession and immersion into Christ – and continued obedience to His Word. That is what I have found the Word of God defines as calling upon the name of the Lord. Is there really a simplified version of three sentences and just two single duties?
In the Words of Jesus, How does it read to you?
Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death so that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, so also shall we be in the resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we no longer serve sin.
(Romans 6: 3 – 8)