In Peter’s Pentecost sermon, in Acts the second chapter, Peter quotes from three different prophesies in the Old Testament, one of which is Joel 2. He used this prophecy to show that the things that were taking place on that day were that which was spoken by the prophet Joel. “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls” (Joel 2:28-32). This prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, as Peter pointed out. Since it had been fulfilled, then whoever would call on the name of the Lord, from that point on, would be saved. But what does it mean to call upon the name of the Lord?
Some say it is to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. But does this agree with scripture? Romans 10:12-14, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” There is a clear distinction made in v. 14 between calling on the name of the Lord and belief. Paul actually lists them as two different things. We see that we cannot call upon the name of the Lord unless we first believe.
Now let’s go back to the day of Pentecost. Did Peter show the ones on the day of Pentecost how to call on the name of the Lord? As Peter concludes his sermon, he tells the people in Acts 2:36 that they were the ones that crucified the Son of God. This pricked their hearts deeply and in Acts 2:37, they asked, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter responded in Acts 2:38: “Repent, and let every one of you is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Peter clearly tells them that if they want remission of sins, they first have to repent and then be baptized. Peter doesn’t have to tell them to believe because they had already believed when they were pricked in their hearts. They simply need to have their sins forgiven. By telling them to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins, he tells them how to call upon the name of the Lord.
But how do we conclude this? Notice the similarity between “calling on the name of the Lord” and “Repent and let every one of you is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” Notice that calling, repenting, and being baptized is all done in the name of the Lord since Jesus Christ is our Lord. Upon this, we must conclude then that those on the day of Pentecost called on the name of the Lord when they repented and were baptized for the remission of their sins. We also must conclude that calling on the name of the Lord does not literally mean calling out the name of the Lord. It means to submit to the authority of the Lord. Ananias told Paul in Acts 22:16, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Paul was told to call upon the name of the Lord also. He was told to arise and be baptized to wash away his sins. There is another example of this found in Acts 4:10-12: “Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” We see that there is only one name under Heaven by which we must be saved. In other words, there is only one authority under heaven that we adhere to or obey. That authority is the authority of Jesus Christ. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth’” (Matthew 28:18).
Since Jesus truly has all authority, we must remember that the only way to have remission of our sins is to completely adhere to all the authority of Jesus Christ. Like those on the day of Pentecost, we must repent and be baptized as well, having first believed and confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. For this is the only way that we can truly call on the name of the Lord!