Article - Calling on the name of the Lord (part 2)
What does the important expression “calling on the name of the Lord” mean? Let us begin by examining how this phrase is used in the context of Romans 10. Paul’s desire was that physical Israel (the Jews) be saved (Romans 10:1). Such salvation would not come through anyone’s own self-righteousness or the righteousness which is of the law of Moses or any system based on perfect law-keeping, because no one could keep law perfectly, except Jesus (Romans 10:3-5; compare Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:4-7; Hebrews 4:15). Instead, salvation could only be obtained through the righteousness that comes from hearing and obeying the word of faith, the gospel (Romans 10:6-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). In other words, once you hear the gospel, you “obey the gospel”, which is the same thing as saying you “call on the name of the Lord” (Romans 10:13-17; 6:17; see also Acts 5:32; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8; Hebrews 5:8-9; compare Genesis 4:26; 26:4-5). To “call on the name of the Lord” or to “obey the gospel” is a figure of speech known as a synecdoche. Simply put, a synecdoche means “a part which stands for the whole”. Such a figure is used in common speech even today. For example, when ranchers say they have a hundred “head” of cattle, they are using one part of the cow (the head) to refer to the entire cow/cattle.
In the case of Romans 10, Paul uses part of the requirements for salvation (“call on the name of the Lord” or “obey the gospel”) to stand for the entire requirements for salvation. Paul then specifies some of the requirements of salvation as (1) preaching/hearing the gospel (Romans 10:14-15, 17-18); (2) believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9-11, 14, 16-17); (3) confessing with your mouth the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:9-10). He also mentions repentance in Romans 2:4 and baptism in Romans 6:3-4. In conclusion, “calling on the name of the Lord” simply means to obey Christ and His will. One cannot rightly say they have called upon the name of the Lord until they have completed all the things the Lord has commanded for salvation (Luke 17:5-10).
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