These teachings are now available in 30 minute videos at our YouTube channel at 721ministries.org.
This Sunday is Pentecost, so today we start a 5-part series on this “Birthday of the Christian Movement.” I am going to start at the end of this 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 words in scripture, it is the seemingly simple and straightforward words that can be the most explosive, and therefore the most dangerous if misunderstood.
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 if not, will we not be saved?
Here is the Greek behind this phrase:
“Calls on” = epikaloumai: Appeals to … Casting one’s entire dependence on … One’s survival, one’s fate, one’s future
Later in the story of Acts we see the Apostle Paul using this same phrase as he appeals to Caesar. He is asking for a trial before Caesar in Rome, so he may escape from the Jewish authorities, who are out to kill him.
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 bold mine)
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 plead, “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 made a decision to accept him. This eliminates the casual Sunday-Churchian-religion that “calls on” one’s church attendance and church activities to save oneself.
And yes, this eliminates any such idea as, “I’m okay. I got this. I can manage my life just fine. I just need a little polishing up.”
No, this is a visceral “calling on.” This calling on emanates from the gut. Nothing lukewarm here. This looks like, speaking in the vernacular:
“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! Please!”
(Lots of exclamations points in this kind of calling on.)
With this desperate and surrender, heart-felt “calling on,” Jesus will answer, and you will be saved.