DOES A PERSON HAVE TO CALL ON CHRIST TO BE SAVED?
Bible Reading: Job 33:23-30.
Aim: To prove that we must not just believe in our mind the facts of the Gospel, but that a person must call on Christ to be saved.
One big difference between a Fundamental church and a liberal/apostate/Roman Catholic/Modernist church is on how a person appropriates salvation.
In a Fundamental church, a sinner is presented with the facts of the gospel and challenged to call/ receive/ask/pray/claim (as a lost sinner) on Jesus Christ to save him. In a liberal church, a sinner may be presented with some facts of the gospel, but he is rarely challenged to call on Christ to save him. It is rarely made clear to him that if he takes the gift of eternal life in Christ, then it will become his for certain, and for ever.
Story Illustration: Why Wilson was hanged.
In 1829 George Wilson, in Pennsylvania, was sentenced to be hanged by a United States Court for robbing the mails and for murder. President Andrew Jackson pardoned him, but this was refused, and Wilson insisted that it was not a pardon unless he accepted it. That was a point of law never before raised, and the President called the Supreme Court to decide.
Chief Justice John Marshall gave the following decision: “A pardon is a paper, the value of which depends upon its acceptance by the person implicated. It is hardly to be supposed that one under sentence of death would refuse to accept a pardon, but if it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged!” And he was hanged.
Provisionally the gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation is for every one irrespective of what he may be or what he may have done. Potentially, it is only to “every one that believeth.” - Sunday School Times.
1. ERRORS REGARDING SALVATION
What are some wrong terms that people use in challenging people to appropriate salvation?
1. Give your heart to Jesus. This is wrong because this is spoken to a saved person, a son of God. “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:26.
2. Invite Jesus into your heart. This is wrong because it does not specify what you want Christ to do. What do you want Christ to do in your heart? Help you? Do good works? No! It must be to save you from sin by Christ’s work on the cross.
3. Commit your life to Christ. This is wrong because it carries the thought of dedicating your life to obey Christ and hoping to get salvation in return for good works that you promise to do.
4. Believe in God or Christ. This is not clear, but is ambiguous. What must we believe about God or Christ? In their existence? No. Even if you believe that Christ paid for all your sins on the cross, this is not salvation because many people believe this to be true, but do not want salvation or do not want to give up their sins. One must want salvation and ask for it.
5. Accept Christ. This is not clear because: “What are we accepting Christ to do for us?” It must be to save us or to be our Saviour from sin.
6. Trust in God. To do what? Must be to save me from sin.
7. Have faith in God. To do what? Must be to save me from sin.
2. SCRIPTURES PROVING THAT WE MUST CALL ON CHRIST TO BE SAVED
Let us challenge people to call on Christ to save them, as these scriptures command us to:
1. Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” “To call on the Lord means to pray in faith for salvation.” “Bible Knowledge Commentary”, Walvoord and Zuck P.481. Joel 2:32 and Acts 2:21 contain the same verse.
2. Jeremiah 29:12,13 “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord.” v.14.
3. Isaiah 55:6,7 “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God for he will abundantly pardon.”
The wicked are commanded to seek and call upon the Lord for salvation. The gospel invitation defined involves four things:
i) Seeking (desiring, inquiring after) the Lord while He may be found. v.6.
ii) Calling upon Him while He is near.
iii) Repentance - the wicked being willing to forsake (or abandon) his evil way of life, and the unrighteous man forsaking his wrong thoughts.
iv) Faith - returning to the Lord, receiving God’s salvation, mercies and pardon.
4. Jonah 3:4-10 The greatest revival ever, took place when Jonah preached to the Ninevites and they were all saved. We see the following steps in their salvation:
i) The people of Nineveh believed God. v.5.
ii) Cry mightily unto God. v.8.
iii) Let them turn every one from his evil way. v.8.
Result: God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
5. Jeremiah 10:25 Unbelievers are described as those that “call not on thy name”. Therefore, believers are those who “call on God’s name”. “Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name”.
6. Zechariah 13:9 Another great revival is when the nation of Israel is saved at Christ’s second coming. Notice how they get saved; by CALLING on the name of the Lord: “I will bring the third part through the fire, ... they shall CALL on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, the Lord is my God.” Lesson: When we call on the name of the Lord to save us, He hears us, and we are then saved; just as Israel will be.
7. Job 33:23-30 shows several things that are necessary for a person to be saved:
i) An interpreter or gospel preacher. v.23.
ii) A ransom, or One who has paid for our sins, Jesus Christ. v.24.
iii) He shall pray unto God... v.26.
iv) If any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me
a) He will be delivered from going to the pit. v.24,28,30.
b) His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s; he shall return to the days of his youth. (Resurrection body). v.25.
c) He will see God’s face with joy. v.26.
d) He will render unto man God’s righteousness. v.26
e) His life shall see the light. v.28.
8. John 4:10,15,26 Jesus tells the woman at the well, that there are three steps to salvation in v.10, these being: “If thou knewest:
a) the gift of God
b) who it is that saith to thee, “Give me to drink.”
c) Thou would have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” Condition c) In v.15 she asks Christ for living water: “Sir, give me this water. Condition b) In v.25,26 she knows/believes who is speaking to her: “Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he (Messiah).”
She is then saved because she understands who Christ is, and she has asked for Christ to “give me this water.”
9. “And in all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matt.21:22.
This states that believing is tied in closely with “asking in prayer.”
If you believe God can do something for you, you ask Him for it in prayer.
If you believe Christ can save your soul, you will ask Him in prayer to save your soul. Ye have not because ye ask not.” James 4:2
Question: Why are people not saved? Answer: Because they ask not.
This means that if you ask Christ for salvation, believing, you’ll get salvation. A person must acknowledge to God their need of salvation. This is asking God to save them.
“Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24.
This expresses dependence upon the Lord, as we pray to God, humbly requesting as an inferior from a superior. Here, belief and prayer are linked.
10. Notice these clear New Testament examples of people who were saved by calling on Christ to save them:
i) Bartimaeus Mark 10:46-52
Step 1: “He began to CRY OUT, and say, Jesus thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” v.47. He called out for Christ to save him.
Step 2: “He, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.” v.50 He responds to Jesus’ command for him to be called. Jesus calls him. Casting away his garment pictures the sinner wanting to cast away his sin in repentance.
Step 3: He says “Lord, that I might receive my sight.”
The sinner must ask Jesus to save him, in reply to Jesus’ question.
“What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” Jesus asks this question to every sinner. To be saved we must answer “I want to be saved.”
Step 4: Bartimaeus is saved from sin by faith and also receives his sight. Jesus said “Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.” v.52. Bartimaeus’ faith involved:
1. Crying out
2. Casting away his garment (repentance)
3. Acknowledging Jesus to be Lord God (Deity)
4. Telling Jesus exactly what he wanted (calling on Christ to save him).
Step 5: “Immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way. v.52. After we receive the blessing of salvation, we must follow Jesus also.
ii) The Publican Luke 18:9-14
Theme: Salvation is not obtained by trusting in our own righteousness.
Step 1: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray; a Pharisee and a Publican.” v.10.
Salvation is not in going to church.
Salvation is not in a wrong kind of prayer in trusting our good works. Step 2: The Publican said “God be merciful to me a sinner.” v.13.
He called upon the name of the Lord in his distress at his sin to save him. We must see our sins as distressing to us and hurtful to God. His sins distressed him as seen by his four statements:
a) He stood afar off.
b) He would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven.
c) He smote upon his breast, realising the sinfulness of his heart.
d) He called upon the name of the Lord to save him, saying: “God be merciful to me a sinner.” v.13.
Calling upon the name of the Lord to save us is a heartfelt response at distress of our sin: “In my distress I called upon the Lord,… he heard my voice.” Psalm 18:6.
Psalm 118:5 “I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me..”
Step 3: “This man (the Publican) went down to his house justified rather than the other (Pharisee):.. for he that humbles himself shall be exalted.” v.14.
If we are distressed at our sin, not trusting our good works, but call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to save us, we are justified ie. made right in God’s eyes. This
is true salvation.
iii) Zacchaeus. Luke 19:1-10
Step 1: “He sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press.” v.3 To be
saved we must seek to see Jesus, seek to know who Jesus is - God and Saviour (John
6:36, 40). seek to overcome obstacles to get to Jesus eg. Zacchaeus’ shortness.
Step 2: After climbing a tree to get a closer look at Jesus, Jesus responded to him by saying: “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.” v.5 To be saved we must - come down from our high position, humbling ourselves.
- accept Jesus’ offer inviting Jesus to come to stay at our house/life. Step 3: “He made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully.” v.6
To be saved we must make haste, immediately respond to Jesus Christ’s offer of salvation.
- come down, humbling ourselves from whatever high position we think we hold in life.
- receive Christ as our Saviour from sin joyfully into our life to take up residence with us.
Step 4: “Zacchaeus stood and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” v.8
Zacchaeus was so distressed by his sin, and so much wanting Christ to be his Saviour that he wanted to be completely right with God and man. He offered to make restoration to anyone he had wronged. This showed the sincerity of his repentance.
Step 5: “Jesus said unto him, this day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” v.9
Note: - Salvation comes in a day, not over many years of good works.
- Salvation comes when we seek Christ, come down from our high position receive Christ joyfully as our Saviour.
- Salvation’s result is to want to do the right thing by God and man.
iv) A Dying Thief. Luke 23:39-43
Step 1: He rebuked the unrepentant thief’s wrong selfish attitude to Christ. To be saved we must be willing to take a stand for Jesus Christ, even if it means going against the crowd.
Step 2: He said: “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds.” v.40,41.
To be saved we must
- fear God
- be aware of our own sinfulness
- be aware that we are worthy of God’s judgement.
Step 3: “But this man hath done nothing amiss.” v.41 To be saved we must - recognise Jesus Christ’s sinlessness.
Step 4: “He said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” v.42
To be saved we must
- recognise that Jesus is God, the “Lord”.
- call on Jesus to save us: “Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
- recognise that Jesus is our only Mediator to get us to heaven, not Mary, not saints, not Buddha, not any other religious figure, not good works, only Jesus Christ can
save us. I Tim 2:5
Notice: He also believed that Jesus was the King of the Jews, and that Jesus would come to earth again as King of the earth.
Step 5: Jesus assures him of his salvation: “Today, shalt thou be with me in paradise.” v.43.
When we call on Jesus to save us, He saves us and keeps us saved, so that whenever we die we are promised to be with Jesus in paradise. For believers this means that on death, we go instantly to heaven to be in God’s presence. Question: Are you really saved? If not, then call on Christ to save you today as these four men did 2,000 years ago.
11. Notice six very clear steps in the process of salvation in Romans 10:12-15.
1. A person is SENT
2. That person PREACHES the Gospel
3. People HEAR the Gospel
4. People BELIEVE the facts of the Gospel (Believe in Him)
5. People CALL on the name of the Lord to save them
6. People are then SAVED.
Notice in v.12 “the same Lord over all is rich unto all that CALL upon him.”
Note: We only experience the riches of Christ’s salvation when we call on him to save us. 12. Objection: But isn’t believing in Christ just enough?
a) If we believe in Christ, we will call on Christ to save us, or at the very least acknowledge to Christ our desire, or our need for Christ to save us from our sin.
b) Romans 10:10 links “BELIEF” and “CALLING”.
Belief comes first, then is followed simultaneously/immediately by calling: “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Rom. 10:10
We learn here that:
- A confession of Christ is as indispensable to salvation as believing. Jesus affirms this in Matthew 10:32, Luke 12: 8,9.
- There can be no true salvation where we are not willing to confess the Lord Jesus. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost.” 1 Corinthians 12:3
c) Romans 10:9 links “confessing with your mouth the Lord Jesus” with “believing in your heart that God has raised him from the dead.”
“Confess” here means: to express our agreement with what God holds to be true. It is a public open declaration as seen by “with thy mouth”, regarding our sin, our lost estate, our need of the Saviour.
We confess that Jesus is our Lord, that He has a right to rule over our soul eg. Paul in Acts 9:6 “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
“Believe in your heart” means that the external confession corresponds with the internal feelings.
d) “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Romans 10:11.
If we have true belief in Christ as Saviour, we will not be ashamed to declare it.
e) Acts 26:27 “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”
We learn that: Agrippa believed that Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophets’ message. Believing the facts is not enough to save a person. One must receive Jesus Christ as our Saviour.
13. Other scriptures teaching that we must call on Christ to be saved:
i) “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from my enemies (eg. satan, sin, hell)” Psalm 18:3.
ii) “Save Lord: let the king hear us when we call.” Psalm 20:9.
iii) “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” Psalm 50:15. The Lord’s method of delivering (saving) us from trouble is for us to call on Him to save us. So it is that by calling on the Lord, He will save us from hell.
iv) “As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.” Psalm 55:16.
v) “Quicken us, and we will call upon thy name. Turn us again O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” Psalm 80:18, 19.
vi) “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” v.5
“In the day of trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.” v.7. Psalm 86:5,7.
vii) “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him.” Psalm 91:15.
viii) “Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the Lord, and he answered them.” Psalm 99:6.
ix) “in the day when I call answer me speedily.” Psalm 102:2.
x) “O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name.” Psalm 105:1.
xi) “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord” Psalm 116:13.
xii) “The Lord is near unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.. he also will hear their cry, and will save them.” Psalm 145:18,19.
xiii) “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name...” Isaiah 12:3,4.
xiv) “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer.” Isaiah 58:9.
xv) “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24.
xvi) “Call unto me, and I will answer thee” Jeremiah 33:3.
xvii) “Here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. Acts 9:14.
All who are saved are described as those who “call on thy name.”
xviii) “With all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:2.
xix) “Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22
Believers are described again as people who “call on the Lord.” We are saved by calling on the Lord, and we continue in total dependence upon God to call on the Lord for all our needs.
xx) In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears. 2 Samuel 22:7.
If we are truly convicted of our sins, and of our need of Jesus Christ to be our Saviour, then we will call on Christ to save us. Being distressed by our sins, our normal response is to immediately call on Christ to save us.
In John 6:28-34, Jesus tells us that to work the works of God, we must believe on Christ. The people’s response is to say “Lord, evermore give us this bread” v.34, that is to say “we want it, we now ask for it, we now receive it.”
Jesus replies: “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” v.37
“everyone which seeth2334 the Son, and believeth4100 on him, may have everlasting life:”v40 seeth2334 in Greek means to look at, to comprehend, recognise,acknowledge.
Therefore we must see (recognise who Christ is) and believe on him (receive, call, ask, come, take, confess Christ as Saviour) to be saved.
3. DEFINITIONS ASSOCIATED WITH SALVATION.
1. REPENT: to change the mind, to regret. Acts 2:38.
2. CONVERT: (1378 in Strong’s Concordance) = to turn.
= to turn from self and sin and receive Christ as Saviour. “Except ye be converted and become as little children ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3. “Repent and turn to God (convert) and do works meet for repentance.” Acts 26:20.
3. BELIEVE: (pisteuo in Greek), have faith, to trust
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Acts 16:31. Question: What does “believe” mean for salvation?
Answer: Believe is a SUMMARY word.
It summarises a number of things that we must believe in order to be saved. If one is missing, a person is not saved.
a) Belief has FACTS to rest upon
Believe is a summary statement that assumes an understanding of other scriptures pertinent to salvation.
“Believe” implies that the person believes, or is firmly persuaded that:
1. He is a sinner.
2. He is heading to hell.
3. His good works can’t save him.
4. Christ died as his Substitute/Saviour/Sin bearer on the cross to be punished for his sin in the sinners place.
5. He is willing to turn from sin, and turn to God.
6. Jesus Christ is 100% God and 100% man.
7. Christ rose bodily from the dead.
8. We must receive, call, ask, come, take or confess Christ as Saviour.
b) Belief involves deciding either for or against Jesus Christ and his offer of salvation: “But the gift of God is eternal life..” Romans 6:23.
c) Believe can be used with different prepositions.
i) Believe in (“en” in Greek) in John 3:16 means “to confide in someone.”
ii) Believe on (“epi” in Greek) in Acts 16:31 means “laying hold on the object of faith.” Therefore, one needs to “confide in Christ” or “lay hold on Christ” or “call on Christ to save”, in order to have salvation.
d) Believe in the New Testament uses other words interchangeably:
i) Receive: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the
sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”. John 1:12.
ii) Call upon: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Rom.10:13; Acts 2:21.
iii) Ask: “thou would have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” John 4:10.
iv) Come:“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. “let him that is athirst come. Revelation 22:17.
v) Take: “whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17.
vi) Confess: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in
thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9.
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:10.
Charles Ryrie in “So Great Salvation” well says:
Key: “The person who receives, or calls upon, or asks, or comes, or takes, or confesses, this person believes.”
Question: Isn’t it just enough to tell people to believe in or on Christ?
Answer: No, because, most people think that “believe” means “mental assent to the facts of the Gospel” or “just believing that God or Christ exists.” This is not Bible belief for salvation. They must understand the Bible facts of the Gospel before they can believe.
The Old Testament, not the New Testament, uses the word “look” in the context of being saved in Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”
This reminds us of saving belief (John 3:14,15), and of the snake bitten Jews in the wilderness looking at the brass serpent on a pole (Numbers 21:5-9) to be healed of snake bite. This is a picture of the new birth. This is still an individual communicating his desire to Christ to be saved. It is a non-verbal call in the mind to God for salvation.
4. BAD EFFECTS OF THIS DOCTRINE OF NOT CALLING.
1. It eliminates human responsibility, and emphasises exclusively divine sovereignty.
2. Christians therefore never tell a sinner to call on Christ to save them and people rarely ever get saved (using this approach), and Christians stop being soul winners.
3. Christians never start discipling people, because they never lead anyone to Christ.
4. It sets up division between Christians.
Some people believe the following false or misleading statements:
a) “A person does not need to pray in order to be saved.”
Answer: This is false. A person must communicate to God his desire for Christ to save him, be it verbally or mentally. Surely this is prayer. See the four men saved in section 2.
b) “Salvation in Christ is received through faith alone & is not dependant on any action of man.”
Answer: This statement is false. Believe, faith, trust are all summary words that summarise the eight concepts of salvation discussed previously. If a person believes these eight things, he is saved, he believes, he has faith in Christ, and he trusts Christ for salvation. Notice that salvation is appropriated when a person
believes the eight things and responds in one of these six ways by either receiving, calling on, asking, coming, taking, or confessing Christ as Saviour. Surely this is an action of man, by which he appropriates salvation. However, none of these are good works, which the Bible clearly says cannot save us. Eph. 2:8,9. An action is not a work.
5. OLD TESTAMENT PICTURES OF SALVATION
These show that people were not saved by just believing the facts of the Gospel.” They had to appropriate God’s way of escape by taking the action God commanded them to. For example:
1. God offered animal skins to Adam and Eve
When they accepted these, it showed that they were accepting the blood sacrifice of an innocent animal dying in their place. This pictured Christ’s perfect future sacrifice that they were trusting in.
2. Abel offered a blood sacrifice to God which was accepted
Cain’s vegetable bloodless sacrifice was rejected.
3. Noah’s Ark is a picture of Christ saving and keeping us saved. Noah and his family had to enter the Ark to be saved. Those who refused to enter the Ark were drowned.
4. Israelites in Egypt on the Passover night had to kill a spotless lamb and apply its blood on the doorposts and lintel of their house, or their firstborn would have died. Just believing that a lamb’s blood applied would save them was not enough. They had to apply the blood. So must we by calling on Christ to save us.
5. Snake bitten Israelites in the wilderness had to move outside their tents to look at the brass serpent on a pole. Then they were healed upon looking. John 3:14. It wasn’t enough to believe that looking would heal. They had to act by looking. So we are saved by calling on Christ to save us.
6. Naaman the Syrian leper was told to dip seven times in the Jordan river to be healed
of leprosy. Only when he believed it and dipped himself did he get cured of leprosy.
All these people had to believe, then appropriate in order to be saved. If we believe in Christ, we will appropriate Christ by calling on Him to save us, or receive Christ as our Saviour etc.
Question: Have you received Jesus Christ as your Saviour?
Question: Are you sharing the Gospel daily and challenging people to receive Christ as their Saviour?