A gracEmail subscriber asks the meaning of the biblical expression “calling on the name of the Lord.”
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Calling on the name of the Lord means crying out to God for help or rescue, or in reverence and worship (1 Kings 18:24; Psalm 116:17; Isaiah 12:4). The ancient biblical story says that in the days of Adam’s grandson Enosh “men began to call on the name of the Lord” (Gen. 4:26). The name “Enosh” means “humankind” or “mortal.” Those who recognize their creaturely frailty are the people who cry out to God.
From a Christian standpoint, calling on God’s name often means crying out to God based on what Jesus has done for sinners. God has always promised to hear such cries from those of true heart (Joel 2:32). The New Testament writers quote Joel’s words at least two times: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The first instance is Acts 2:21, which emphasizes God as the One who is beseeched — God who has raised Jesus from the dead. The second instance is Romans 10:13, which emphasizes the “whoever” part of the quotation — salvation is for all nations as well as for Jews.
The New Testament once links calling on the name of the Lord with water baptism, in the process of Christian conversion (Acts 22:16). The Apostle Paul describes Christian believers as “those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:2). Five centuries before Paul was born, the Hebrew prophet Zechariah had portrayed a day when all nations will stand shoulder to shoulder, calling on the name of the Lord — apparently envisioning the ultimate cosmic victory of God (Zech. 3:9).