NEED ONLY TO ASK THE LORD TO SAVE HIM TO BE SAVED?
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)
When I was a small child I attended a "Neighborhood Vacation Bible School" conducted in the home of our neighbors who lived down the road. I was truly moved by the emotional appeals made at the close of each session to "come to Jesus." The neighbor lady, whom I knew to be kind and good, would ask us all to bow our heads and close our eyes while she told emotional stories that moved me to tears. Then she would ask all of those who wanted to "get saved" to raise their hands
while their heads were still bowed and their eyes were still closed.
After a few days I raised my hand. She asked all of those who had raised their hands to come into a back room after the other activities were over. In that room we were invited to bow our heads and repeat the "sinner's prayer" which went something like this: "Dear Jesus, please come into my heart and forgive me of my sins. Amen." We were assured that our sins had been forgiven. This act gained the approval of my family and community, and it caused me to feel very good that I had done what I believed to be the right thing. If sentimental feelings could rightly be used to judge such matters, then I had certainly "gotten saved," and I would have never considered exploring the Gospel plan of salvation with my rational mind.
No doubt millions of people living today are trapped in this dilemma. They have acted upon what they were taught by people who were "good and kind." Their personal "experience" [what other kind of experience can they have?] seemed so genuine and good. They have the social approval of their loved ones and religious associates. They rebel against the very notion that they and their loved ones might have been mistaken.
When confronted with the Gospel plan of salvation, they are confused and some proceed to probe the Scriptures in search of confirmation that what they have done is right and that it is enough. When their eyes fall upon Romans 10:13, their hearts feel assured and their conflict has passed: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." As long as they are able to refrain from searching all that the Scriptures teach concerning the salvation that God offers and the means by which it is obtained, they remain satisfied that they and their loved ones have been in the right. Those, however, who find the humility to open the Scriptures with no other goal in mind than to ascertain the will of God soon find that calling upon the name of the Lord does not involve praying the "sinner's prayer."
are some facts that the thoughtful and noble Bible student finds in his
search for Truth. The Emphasis in Romans 10:13 is the
"whosoever." Paul is in the middle of a discussion of the fact
that all men and women can be saved by Christ. He has just written:
there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord
all is rich unto all that call upon him" (Rom. 10:12). In support of
point he cites the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 in which Joel revealed in
that all could be saved, in the Christian age, who would come to the
Peter cited this prophecy when he preached the inaugural sermon of the
church (Acts 2:16-21). To discover what one must do in calling upon the
the Lord for salvation, it is necessary to look at additional
In this verse (Rom. 10:13), however, Paul has shown us who can call upon the Lord and be saved. We note that the majority of those who try to make this verse into a comprehensive statement about that which one must do in order to be saved ignore and repudiate the clearest statement of the verse. Most of them are Calvinists who believe that only the "elect" can be saved.
Consistent Calvinists (and they are few) cannot say to just anyone who is lost, “You can be saved by the blood of Christ if you will call upon the name of the Lord." Instead they say, in effect, “You might be among the chosen ones of God and, if you are, you will be saved whether you want to be or not. If you are not among the elect you cannot be saved no matter how long you call upon the name of the Lord." Jesus said, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17). The consistent Calvinist says, "Maybe you can come, but your will has nothing to do with it. God will save you if it is His will, and you will be unable to resist." They ignore the fact that God is "...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).
It is a strange circumstance that members of the churches of Christ are ridiculed for being too rigid, and we are falsely accused of barring the door of Heaven against those who would enter when faithful Christians are the only ones who can sincerely and consistently turn to any sinner at random and say, “You can be saved if you will learn what it is to call upon the name of the Lord and if you will do it." While we are not in a position to open or bar the door of Heaven with our own hands, it is still true that the Gospel we preach leads all who would enter to the opened door of Heaven (cf. Rev. 3:8). How the Calvinists have come to label us as the unloving and uncaring exclusivists is beyond me.
Those who call upon the name of the Lord must first hear and believe the Gospel, and then obey it in order to be saved. The Holy Spirit speaking through Paul asked, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?... But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:14, 16-17). Notice that failure to obey the Gospel, in this passage, is equal to failure to believe the report. Saving faith comes by hearing the Word of God, and it is the kind of faith that acts upon what God's Word teaches (cf. Jam. 2:14-26; Mark 16:16).
"Calling upon the name of the Lord" obviously involves obedience to the will of God. Jesus told Saul of Tarsus to go into the city of Damascus where he would be told what he needed to do (Acts 22:10). When he arrived, God's messenger said to him, "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (v. 16). Prior to that time, he had persecuted others who had called upon the Lord in obeying the same Gospel (9:14, 21). After that time he wrote to the church of God at Corinth which was composed of those who had been sanctified, as are all Christians, by obediently calling upon the name of the Lord (1 Cor. 1:2). He encouraged young Timothy to "follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Tim. 2:22).
Our Lord was very explicit when He refuted the false doctrine that
need do to be saved is to ask the Lord to save him: “Not every
saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but
doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in
day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name
out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I
unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”
Go To: Things Wrong with Denominational Baptism