“For the same Lord is Lord of all and rich to all who call upon Him.” Romans 10:12b
Many Christians are familiar with some idea of calling on the name of the Lord. It is often associated with initial salvation and part of the process of how to be saved. While this is very true, I’d like to dive in deeper to what truly happens when you call on the name of the Lord, what it is, how you do it, and why every Christian should do this daily.
“And to Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time men began to call upon the name of Jehovah.” Genesis 4:26
Calling on the name of the Lord is not just a New Testament practice. As you can see above, it began as early as the time of Enosh. Every significant, God-loving, age-turning, world-rejecting, Old Testament figure called on the name of the Lord. Beginning with Enosh (Gen. 4:26), Job (Job. 12:4; 27:10), Abraham (Gen. 12:8; 13:4; 21:33), Isaac (Gen. 26:25), Moses and the children of Israel:
“For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as Jehovah our God is whenever we call upon Him?” Deuteronomy 4:7
Continuing with Samson (Judg. 15:18; 16:28), Samuel (1 Sam. 12:18; Ps. 99:6), David (2 Sam. 22:4, 7; 1 Chron. 16:8; 21:26; Ps. 14:4; 17:6; 18:3; 31:17; 55:16; 86:5, 7; 105:1; 116:4, 13, 17; 118:5; 145:18), Asaph (Ps. 80:18), Heman (Ps. 88:9), Elijah (1 Kings 18:24), Isaiah (Is. 12:4), Jeremiah (Lam. 3:55, 57), and others (Ps. 99:6), almost all of God’s called, Old Testament saints called upon the name of the Lord.
“I called upon Your name, O Jehovah, from the lowest pit. You have heard my voice; do not hide Your ear at my breathing, at my cry.” Lamentations 3:55-56
Calling on the name of the Lord is not complex. It is exactly what you imagine when you read it. The verse above shows that calling is to cry out audibly, meaning to use your mouth to call a person by name. When we call on the name of the Lord, we are calling out to a person.
“And they stoned Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Acts 7:59
Here is the clearest New Testament example of this. Calling upon the Lord is literally saying “Lord Jesus.” This is not a formula or a magic word, but a cry to the very Lord Jesus Himself, who is alive and accessible today.
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all and rich to all who call upon Him; for ‘whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'” Romans 10:12-13
The purpose and result of calling on the name of the Lord is salvation. While this most definitely is first and foremost our eternal salvation, it also refers to our daily salvation. This is referred to in many of my previous posts, but to make clear what I mean, here is a helpful verse:
“For if we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more we will be saved in His life, having been reconciled” Romans 5:10
There is a “much more” salvation to be experienced in our Lord Jesus’ life. So calling on the name of the Lord reconciles us to God, but it also allows us to enjoy all the riches of God in our daily life. Calling is a part of our daily salvation, for the Lord is “rich to all who call upon Him.”
“Seek Jehovah while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6
We have been charged by God to call upon Him! That should be reason enough for all to shout out “Lord Jesus” right now, but I’ll give a few more. Calling on the name of the Lord used to be a well known sign among all the Gentiles concerning the Jews (Jonah 1:6; 2 Kings 5:11). We have been commanded by God to call (Ps. 50:15; Jer. 29:12). It is God’s heart’s desire (Ps. 91:15; Zeph. 3:9; Zech. 13:9).
“Therefore you will draw water with rejoicing from the springs of salvation, and you will say in that day, “Give thanks to Jehovah; call upon His name! Make His deeds known among the peoples; remind them that His name is exalted.” Isaiah 12:3-4
It is the method by which we drink from the fountain of salvation! It is also the way in which we can find our delight in God (Job 27:10).
Characteristic of the Church
“To the church of God…the called saints, with all those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place” 1 Cor. 1:2
The church here are the very people who call upon the name of the Lord. Notice that it does not say “with all who called upon the name” as if it was a one time thing. The church is composed of those who call on the Lord daily (Ps. 88:9) and “in every place.”
This seems very strange to the majority of Christians today, but a little under 2000 years ago this was the primary characteristic of all believers. Back then, the Christians didn’t have giant cathedrals or churches to meet. The believers had no distinguishing characteristics, and they even believed in the same God as the Jews. So how could you tell a Jew apart from a Christian? Saul of Tarsus had a clear way of finding them:
“And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon Your name…And all who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is this not the one who ravaged those who call upon this name in Jerusalem?'” Acts 9:14, 21
The way for Saul to distinguish Christians from Jews was by their outward calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus.
“But flee youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22
I don’t want anyone reading this to think this is cool, not disagree, or just text me and say I did a good job writing this post. This might be the most practical thing I will ever write about. We need to call on the name of the Lord with a pure heart, desiring and expecting the Lord to enrich us. We need to call on the name of the Lord with other callers, that we may enjoy the riches of the Lord together. We need to open our mouth (Ps. 81: 7, 10) and daily (Ps. 86:3; 88:9) call upon the Lord!
I began doing this at the beginning of last school year, and it has changed my entire life. I now have a simple way to touch the living God every single moment of every day. If I am going into a test, I can turn to the Lord and call on Him. If I fail said test, I can call on the Lord. I have begun pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace with callers of the Lord!
This is such a rich practice that has been given to all believers by God so that we can be joined to the Lord and abide in Him all day. I hope and pray that all reading this would begin to call on the name of the Lord every day, every moment, in every place!