Invitations to ‘call on the name of the Lord’ are often extended by preachers and especially, it seems, by tele-evangelists. This may be at the end of their sermon when they invite the audience to recite a prayer, often referred to as the “Sinner’s Prayer”. Most often, the only passage that religious institutions associate with the phrase “call on the name of the Lord” is Romans 10:13. Or sometimes, they start with Romans 10:13 and then jump to other Old Testament passages. Let’s look at these, but there is much more to look at in order to understand what “call on the name of the Lord” truly means according to God’s word.

How Scripture answers "What does it mean to ‘call on the name of the Lord?’"

Under the new covenant, to ‘call on the name of the Lord’ is directly connected to being baptized for the remission of sins2,3. It follows one’s hearing and belief in the gospel (of truth)1,2,3 and includes the ongoing worship8 and service to each other9,10,11. God hears all who call on His name in this way5 (it is not an “inward call”). He responds by setting them apart with His Spirit4,9 as He promised3.

The concept of ‘calling on the name of the Lord” is seen throughout all periods of Scripture – since shortly after creation6-to Abram7,– through the Mosaic law5,12,13 and into the first century Christian age1,2,3,4,8,10,11. David describes5 the mechanism (God’s word) and the result (God’s salvation). The same mechanism and result carry through to the first-century Christian’s “calling” as well1,4,8,10,11.

With all of these references to “call on the Lord”1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 – Old and New Testament – we never read about it being a mechanism for salvation or a “call to Jesus” to come into one’s heart or life. Instead, what we read about are praying people (“God-seekers” if you will12) that are confronted with the gospel message and consistently respond in obedient faith.

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

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  1. Dawn Guthrie at - Reply

    Very helpful!!! Thank you!

  2. Dawn Guthrie at - Reply

    In Matthew 12:31,32, Jesus speaks of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit being unforgivable. How does one blaspheme against the Holy Spirit?

    • This is a great question…and a difficult one. The “unforgivable” aspect to this can be alarming and troubling. I don’t think any Christian would want to be guilty of this…however, I think there are some steps we can take to understanding this better.

      • First, just understanding the word “blasphemy” helps some. In the Greek it can mean “vilification” or “evil speaking”. Also, “railing against” which seems to imply a persistence. So, this is someone that is vehemently opposed to and speaking evil of/about God…in a continual and persistent way.
      • Second, looking at the context, Jesus is contrasting this unforgivable sin with the forgivable sin of someone that “speaks a word against the Son of Man”. In this offense, there seems to be the absence of persistence. For example, someone speaking [against Jesus/God] out of anger or in weakness such as what all of his disciples did in the garden and later Peter outright denying Christ.
      • Third, there is other scripture that we could look at that speaks to this same unpardonable condition that Jesus is speaking about (Scripture helping to interpret Scripture!!). For example, Hebrews 6:1-8 or passages talking of “hardened hearts” or the prophets preaching to people that are continually rejecting and “hearing but not hearing” the words of God. Zechariah 7:12: “They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets.” These were unrepentant (and unforgiven).

      There’s more to say, but we’ll plan to publish this as a question with all of the related passages in the near future! Hopefully this helps your own study and maybe offers some food for thought?