Rev. Miersma is pastor of the Loveland Protestant Reformed Church in Loveland, Colorado.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
The words of this text were spoken by the apostle Peter in the very first sermon that he preached after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The signs of the Spirit, the sound as of a rushing mighty wind, the cloven tongues like as of fire, and the speaking in tongues, had manifested themselves. As a result, a multitude had gathered at the scene. Peter then explains in this first sermon that what had just taken place was a fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures. The words of our text are a quotation from the Old Testament prophecy of Joel.
To the multitude that had come together Peter further explains that in the outpouring of the Spirit they may see the beginning of the day of the Lord (v. 20). However, it is also the very last day, the day of the end of all things, as is evident from the language that speaks of wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath, blood, fire, smoke, and the darkening of the sun and of the moon.
The Old Testament prophets viewed this all as one, for from their prophetic perspective they could not see the long period between the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the final return of the Lord. The day of the Lord, then, is the entire new dispensation. It is the day of the Lord because in that day the exalted Christ is Lord and is revealed as Lord. That day begins with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and it is finished in the climax and consummation of the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And the gospel of Pentecost is that in that day of the Lord, whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. This, the prophet Joel said, shall surely come to pass. Peter explains that it is now come to pass and is coming to pass.
Salvation implies deliverance out of some great evil. In the text this salvation is considered from the viewpoint of the great and notable day of the Lord, the day when Christ shall return again, preceded by wonders in heaven above and in the earth beneath. This will be a day that will be entirely of the Lord Jesus Christ. He shall be manifested in all the power and glory that the Father gave Him. Only His will shall be executed. Nothing shall there be of man in that day.
That day will be the day of final reckoning, when the measure of iniquity shall be full and the Lord shall appear as Judge to execute the righteous wrath of God. Thus, Acts 2:21 refers to salvation in that day from the final perdition which that day brings to the ungodly world. The world lies under the guilt, power, and corruption of sin. The gospel says that you and I belong by nature to that world. We are guilty already in Adam, but also because of our actual sins. The gospel further tells us that we must be saved from that guilt of sin. Otherwise, we can only have a part with all the ungodly, who shall be cast into the everlasting desolation of hell.
This salvation must be unto eternal glory, the final glory that shall be ours in the resurrection from the dead. That shall be the perfection of the covenant relation, the perfection of the fellowship of friendship with the ever blessed God in His eternal tabernacle in the new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness shall dwell. This righteousness shall be plain in that day when God glorifies His people and receives them into the blessedness of His everlasting tabernacle. This righteousness is such that it makes us worthy to enter that exceeding great glory; and it must be such as to make us able to enter into that glory. Those who enter into eternal glory must be clothed with a holiness whereby they are fit to be in heaven before the face of the Holy One. Salvation in the day of the Lord implies such righteousness.
What a salvation that is! It is to be snatched away from this world and to escape its judgment. It means to be delivered from the sin and guilt of this world. It means to be made partakers of all the blessings of the new and glorious and heavenly kingdom of God. Perfect righteousness and holiness will be ours.
This text rightly informs us that this salvation can be obtained only in the name of the Lord. The name of the Lord, of course, is the same thing as the Lord Himself. To call upon the name of the Lord is the same thing as to call upon the Lord, for the name of the Lord is the Lord revealed. The Lord Himself is invisible, but He becomes manifest and makes Himself known in His name. The name Lord refers to Jehovah, our unchangeable, faithful God. Thus God reveals Himself centrally as the God of our salvation in Jesus, who is Jehovah Salvation. In our Lord Jesus Christ, God makes Himself known as the One who saves His people from their sins. To say that there is salvation in the name of the Lord is the same as to say that there is salvation in Christ (Acts 4:12).
The reason for this is that in Christ there is righteousness. In Him there is the righteousness that delivers us from all our guilt and that makes us worthy of eternal and heavenly glory. This is possible since Christ is the Son of God in the flesh, who entered into our deepest woe, death, and punishment. His death was sufficient to blot out all our sins and to merit eternal life in the glory of the new heavens and the new earth for all His own for whom He died.
There is salvation in Christ also because He has the power to deliver. Christ was raised from the dead and exalted to the position of highest authority and power over all things. He has received the quickening Spirit by which, through irresistible grace, He makes us like unto Himself. The gospel of Pentecost is, therefore, that in the name of the Lord there is salvation.
The recipients of this salvation are set forth in the text. “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” To call upon the name of the Lord means to pray to God in Christ, seeking salvation in His name. It is to acknowledge our sin and misery, and thus to acknowledge that we are hopelessly lost, impotent to save ourselves. We further acknowledge that all our righteousness, and all our hope, is only in that name. To call upon the name of the Lord, therefore, is an act of faith. It implies that we put all our confidence in God as He has revealed Himself as the God of our complete salvation in Jesus Christ.
Whoso can thus call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. That is absolutely certain. There is no exception to the rule. No matter what death and destruction there may be in that day of the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, and though the power of Satan be great,you shall be saved. Not one of the redeemed shall be lost, for all who call upon the name of the Lord belong to the body that is the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.
Only they, no others. Not they who despise His name, nor they who blaspheme His name. Not they who seek the world and walk in the way of the world. They have no part in this rich promise of salvation in the day of the Lord.
How is it that they who call upon the name of the Lord are saved? Certainly not because their calling on Him is a condition unto salvation. There are no conditions to salvation: it is absolutely free and unconditional. Nor are they saved because their calling upon the name of the Lord is a good work that accomplishes their righteousness unto salvation. Impossible, for our righteousness is entirely in that name of the Lord.
All our salvation, from beginning to end, is in the name of the Lord. Even our calling upon His name is of Him. This is evident from Joel 2:32 in the words immediately following the words quoted in our text. “For in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” Thus we see that God is always first. Our calling upon the name of the Lord is itself the fruit of His gracious calling. It is itself His saving work. They who call upon the name of the Lord have been given to Christ, engrafted into Him by a living faith. And by that faith, which is the gift of God, they call upon His name.
There is no other way to lay hold upon this rich promise of salvation in the day of the Lord than to call upon His name. O what a rich blessing the Spirit that was poured out on Pentecost is to us. To God be the glory, world without end!