Today we start a 2-part (maybe 3) series on Pentecost. I am going to start at the end of the story we find in Acts 2. After the Holy Spirit arrives with what looks like tongues of fire, and the disciples start speaking in various other languages, familiar to all the Jewish pilgrims who have traveled to Jerusalem for the feast, Peter stands up and gives a lengthy sermon, and boy is it a doozy. As he is finishing, Peter gives this clarion call:
“And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
This is a fascinating declaration to me because on the surface it seems so simple and straightforward. But as I have learned from studying the Hebrew and Greek meaning behind many of the most oft-repeated words in scripture, it is the seemingly simple and straightforward words that are the most dangerous.
Let me repeat that: It is the seemingly simple and straightforward words in scripture, that if not understood correctly, are the most dangerous. Because your misunderstanding will mislead you.
So, what in the world does “Calls on” mean? Because, if everyone who does it will be saved, don’t you agree we should be sure we know? And, that we are doing it?
And, to speak to the dangerous aspect of not understanding the correct meaning, is it true that if we don’t “call on the name of the Lord” we will not be saved?
Here is the Greek behind this phrase:
“Calls on” = epikaloumai: Appeals to … Casting one’s entire dependence on … One’s survival, fate, future
Later in the story of Acts we see the Apostle Paul appealing to Caesar for a trial before Caesar in Rome, to save him from the Jewish authorities. These are the same men for whom he previously worked. They now want to drag him back to Jerusalem to stand trial—with the absolute intention of killing him. He uses this same word:
If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal (epikaloumai) to Caesar!” (Acts 25:11)
The essence of this clarion call, “And everyone who calls on … appeals to …the name of the Lord will be saved,” is this:
Until you cry out to Jesus for … help … to save you … to rescue you … you will not be saved. Until you are so desperate that you cry out, “Help, Jesus, please save me from … me, and from my sinful self,” you will not be saved.
This eliminates any passive Sunday religion one may practice. This eliminates someone “Accepting Jesus,” as if they weighed the options and the available information and decided to accept him. This eliminates the casual Sunday-Churchian-religion that “calls on” one’s church attendance and church activities to save them, instead of Jesus.
This eliminates any such idea as, “I’m okay. I got this. I can manage my life just fine.”
No, this is a visceral “calling on.” This calling on emanates from the gut. Nothing lukewarm here. This looks like:
“Lord I am screwed without you! I need your help. I cannot, and I am no longer even willing to try to manage my life myself. You, Jesus, you must rescue me … from … me. Please!”
After this, this desperate and surrender heart-felt “calling on,” my friend, He will answer and you will be saved.
Note: To hear much more from me on Pentecost, including many fun and interesting details and connections and teaching points, tune into our YouTube Channel at 721minsitries.org.