The notion of calling on the name of the Lord is seen many times throughout the Bible. Psalm 105:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name.” On the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:21), Peter quoted Joel 2:32 when he said, “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But while there is promise for all in the gift of salvation…the responsibility still remains with us to make the initial move towards God. It’s called free will…for we have to choose to either do God’s will or our own. Jesus talked about this in John 7:17 as He was teaching in the Temple courts, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will…” The promise of salvation is there for anyone to take advantage of, but it requires a decision…a choice to seek God and call upon His name.
When we cry out to the Lord in the time of some critical or chronic need…what do we want? We want the situation to change. Whatever it is has us controlled, restrained, or limited in some way, and we want God to come to our aid. Psalm 118:5 tells us, “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered me by setting me free.” In Job 36:16 this idea is repeated that God, in my distress, will set my feet in a spacious place. Now the need may or may not miraculously disappear…but God promises that our minds can be set free from the emotional anguish and misery that have us hemmed in… when we call on Him.
Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God’s loving kindness towards us. For as sinners, we have no right to claim that any of our good works will get us any closer to heaven…for they won’t. It is only by putting our faith and trust in Jesus that we can be saved…and it is only by His unmerited grace and mercy towards us that it can happen.
When Jesus came to earth He made the greatest sacrifice of self-abnegation and self-denial possible. He humbled Himself and renounced His Divinity. In other words, Jesus went out of Himself in order to enter into fellowship with us. So why are we so against doing the work to enter into relationship with Him? We’d like Jesus to just save, change, and sanctify us without lifting a finger in the process. Or we’d rather bargain with Him first – (“You do this for me first God, and maybe then I’ll start working on myself.”) The bottom line is that we also must go out of ourselves in order to enter into a right relationship with God…and waiting around until He does all the work in our lives (that we need to be doing) will never happen.
What does being a “good person” mean to you? Maybe your list contains all the things you do. You donate, you volunteer, you help your neighbor. Or maybe your “good person” list contains all the things you don’t do. You don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. You don’t swear, or watch X rated movies. All of us have mental lists that make up what being a “good person” constitutes. But just being a “good person” will not get us to heaven…for our eternal life is not hinged on anything we will ever do or not do. That’s because it’s only by the blood of Jesus and His sacrifice for us that we can have the hope of eternity with Him. The very foundation of Christian faith is based on this one truth…Jesus Christ came to save the world from sin and He is the only way to God…for just being a “good person” will never rescue you from going to Hell.
We’ve all been there. That deep moan of grief or pain escapes our lips…but that’s all. No words are spoken…because there are no words. Our mind is a confusing jumble of our frail mortal condition. That’s when the Holy Spirit can express for us the unutterable, inexpressible words we can’t find. And that’s when the Holy Spirit can step in and make intercession for us according to the Will of God. (Romans 8:27) The indwelling Holy Spirit is always there to pray…when we can’t.
God wants only the very best for us…the most excellent, most productive life we can live…filled with the greatest satisfaction we can ever experience. Just like the old TV show, “Father Knows Best”, our Heavenly Father really does know what’s best for us. And we will discover it also as we allow God to teach, lead, and guide us.
Here, Paul is quoting Joel 2:32… showing the readers that there is no difference between Jew or Gentile…God is the same to all people groups. In Acts 2:21, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter also quoted Joel 2:32 to the bewildered crowd that had gathered after hearing their native languages coming from the apostles . Both Paul and Peter stressed that anyone could summons God’s help…any race, any gender, any person. And when that person called on the name of the Lord…they would be heard by God and delivered. For there is no one that is beyond God’s reach…no one that can’t say, “I need Your help God!” and God won’t rescue.