What Is Calling on the Name of the Lord?

(Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog)

Romans 10:13 says, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 

But this verse doesn’t just apply to when we first believed in the Lord and got saved. Actually, the Bible shows us that God’s people throughout the centuries regularly called on the name of the Lord. In this post we’ll see how we can be saved constantly by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus, and how this practice is essential for our Christian life.

What does it mean to call on the name of the Lord?

Every Christian has prayed to God at some point in their lives. God hears these prayers, whether they’re silent or spoken aloud. But calling on the Lord is definitely audible. In the Bible, the Hebrew word for call means to call out to, to cry unto, and the Greek word means to invoke a person, to call a person by name.

For example, when a little boy falls off a swing, he immediately cries out, “Mommy!” When his mother hears, she runs to him, wipes away his tears, and soothes him. Children cry out to their mothers when they’re hungry, tired, or scared. They cry because they’re helpless and they need to be cared for.

When we cry out to the Lord, it’s because we’re hungry for Him, we need Him, and we can’t make it without Him.

When did people start calling on the Lord?

It might surprise you to find out that the practice of calling on the Lord began long ago, with the third generation of mankind. Genesis 4:26 tells us: 

“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.”

But why did people begin to do this?

The meaning of the name Enosh gives us a clue. It means frail, mortal man. Because of mankind’s fall, man was frail. From the time of Enosh, people realised the emptiness and vanity of life apart from God, as well as their own fragility and mortality.

So they began to call upon the name of Jehovah, the Hebrew word for “Lord.” The meaning of the name Jehovah is I am that I am. He is the unique, eternal God. Frail, mortal human beings called upon Him because they realised they needed the eternal God.

The condition of humanity today is the same as it was in Enosh’s time. We’re still frail and mortal, and life is often confusing, full of turmoil, and even overwhelming. We’re limited, both physically and psychologically; we need the eternal God.

Now let’s look at some of the benefits we receive when we call on the name of the Lord.

We’re saved

In the New Testament, the name of the Lord is Jesus. Romans 10:9 says,

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

The moment we first believed and called on the Lord Jesus, confessing His name with our mouth, we were saved eternally from God’s judgment. We were forgiven, justified in Christ, and born again with the divine life of God.

But that first time we called upon the name of Jesus is just the beginning. After we’re saved initially, we can continue to enjoy full salvation in Christ by calling on Jesus. This includes being saved daily from many negative things, such as anger, depression, impatience, sadness, discouragement, and anxiety, just to name a few.

How can calling on the Lord save us from these things? When we call, “Oh, Lord Jesus!” we’re not merely speaking inspiring words or a positive affirmation to try and improve our mood. 

Instead, when we call on the name of Jesus, we contact the Lord who is dwelling in our spirit as the life-giving Spirit. And as we call on His name, He saves us by imparting more of His divine life into us.

We enjoy the riches of Christ

Romans 10:12 says the Lord of all is “rich to all who call upon Him.” Christ wants us to enjoy His riches in our daily lives.

He is rich to us as comfort, peace, love, hope, patience, kindness, endurance, longsuffering, strength, faith, and every positive thing in the universe. And a simple way we can experience these riches is by calling on His name, “Oh, Lord Jesus!”

A life-long practice

Calling on the name of the Lord is an essential part of our daily Christian life. As soon as we feel like we’re drifting away from the Lord, all we have to do is say, “Lord Jesus.” No matter where we are or whether we call on Him loudly or softly, He’s always available!

Calling upon the Lord Jesus is like drawing refreshing water from a deep well; He refreshes us and deeply satisfies us. 

John Newton, the author of the well-known hymn “Amazing Grace,” was a person who enjoyed the riches of Christ by calling on His name. In another hymn he wrote, he speaks of his experience:

“How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!

It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.”

(You can read the rest of this hymn and hear the tune here.)

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