Intro: Do you know what you need? Some of us do not know. In Matthew 6 Jesus urged his disciples to not fill their prayers with vain repetitious words. He told them that the pagans prayed that way because they thought a lot of words made their requests more appealing to their gods. He told them … “your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” (Matt. 6:8)
- That is an interesting and profound thought. Jesus is speaking about praying, but the fact He expressed extends beyond our prayers. God knows what we need. In fact He knows what we need before we even need it.
- Listen to what God says we need:
- Isa 64:4-7 – For since the beginning of the world Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him. 5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned — In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved. 6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. 7 And there is no one who calls on Your name, Who stirs himself up to take hold of You; For You have hidden Your face from us, And have consumed us because of our iniquities. The words of the prophet depict, not only rebellious Israel in his time, but the state of all men and women before a holy God. We need to be saved. But only God can save us. How is the promise of salvation presented to us?
I. The Promise of Salvation: “Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” – As we mentioned previously, the prophets of God presented a unified message of God’s judgment against sin and hope for His people. In Joel’s message he begins with a description of a devastating locust invasion, symbolizing God’s judgment against the sins of Israel and paints a desperate picture for the nation.
- Joel 1:2-4 – Hear this, you elders, And give ear, all you inhabitants of the land! Has anything like this happened in your days, Or even in the days of your fathers? 3 Tell your children about it, Let your children tell their children, And their children another generation. 4 What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; What the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; And what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten. He goes on to tell them… All the trees of the field are withered; Surely joy has withered away from the sons of men. What can they do?
A. Joel then issues a call for true repentance – “So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness.” (2:13)
1. “Shall not be put to shame” – The picture changes in the concluding words of Joel 2 – God promises to restore what had been eaten by the locusts and come and live with His people. Twice He tells them, “My people shall never be put to shame” – another way of saying, I will keep My promises. Jamieson says this phrase means… ‘shall not bear the shame of disappointed hopes,’ … So spiritually, waiting on God, His people shall not have the shame of disappointment in their expectation from Him.” What was the promise? – first a physical return to the land after the exile… but there was more.
• Joel 2:28-32 – 28 “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. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. 30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 32 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.
B. God’s Spirit will announce the coming of salvation. Not just to Israel but to “all flesh”. The fulfillment of the promise of salvation rested upon and included the willingness of a person to call upon the name of the Lord. When would this occur? How would men call upon His name?
II. “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel” – The words of Joel 2 may be familiar to us. The promise contained here is opening words of the apostle Peter in the first gospel sermon in Acts 2. It would be derelict for me to speak about the promise of salvation without including this text. Notice the scene: the apostles of Christ are gathered in Jerusalem in an upper room awaiting the coming of the promised power from God. But why are they here? They were here because of Jesus’ command and Jesus’ promise:
- Luke 24 – After Jesus’ resurrection He appeared to these disciples and ate breakfast with them. He told them… “it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:46-49)
- Later, in the opening words of Acts, Luke again tells us about Jesus promise and command to these apostles… Acts 1:4-5 – He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” …v. 8 – you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
- Just before His ascension, Mark tells us that Jesus commanded these disciples… “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. “(Mark 16:15-16) The apostles were waiting for the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus that the Holy Spirit would empower them to preach the way of salvation.
A. Turn back to Acts 2 – God poured forth His Spirit, and through the power of the Spirit, every person heard the apostles speak in their win language. vs. 4 —they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. these were the words of God. Peter made it clear that what they were witnessing was the fulfillment of Joel’s words… “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (2:21) But how was that possible?
B. Peter told them that Jesus was the Messiah (attested to by miracles, signs and wonders); That they were guilty of putting him to death on the cross; But God had raised Him from the dead. This Jesus was now seated in heaven at the right hand of God. Acts 2:32-33 – This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear… vs. 36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
C. The good news of Jesus’ resurrection prompted the people to ask… “What should we do?” (2:37)
1. Now considering the prophecy of Joel, what could we expect Peter to tell them? “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” – That is exactly what he told them – well not in those exact words. But what he did tell them certainly constituted calling on the name of the Lord.
2. When they did what he told them they were saved… Acts 2:40 – And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 2:47 – And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
3. What did he tell them to do? Acts 2:38-39 -Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. Much of the religious world calls upon people to do something very different from this to be saved. They urge sinners to say a sinners’ prayer and accept Jesus into their hearts. They assume that these activities are what is meant by “calling on the name of the Lord”.
4. Later in Acts 9, Luke tells us about the conversion of the notorious sinner, Saul of Tarsus, who later became known as Paul, the apostle. Jesus miraculously appeared to Saul to convince him that of His identity. Saul was blinded by the Lord’s appearance. Saul’s question was similar to those at Pentecost. “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Acts 9:6) The Lord does not give Saul an immediate answer. but tells him to go to Damascus and he would be told later what to do. Ananias, a disciple in Damascus, is sent to Saul to tell him what Jesus desired. This is how Paul describes that meeting…
• Acts 22:11-16 – And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus. 12 “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, 13 came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him. 14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. 15 For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’ A few things are evident here:
1) Saul had been praying to God for three days (Acts 9:9, 11)
2) When Ananias arrived Saul had not been forgiven of his sins. He was not yet saved. If he had been Ananias would not have told him to “arise and wash away your sins”. (22:16)
3) When Saul arose and was baptized, he called on the name of the Lord. He was saved in direct fulfillment of the promise of God, and only after calling on the name of the Lord in baptism.
5. It is significant to recognize (in a religious world that renounces the necessity of baptism for the forgiveness of sins) that every case of conversion in the book of Acts mentions that those who came to God were baptized. Not only that, it depicts their baptism as an immediate response to the gospel.
III. “In no other name” – when Peter was asked by the Jewish council about the power that made the lame man walk again in Acts 3,He denied that he had anything to do with it. He said the miracle was by the name (power) of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Why must you call on the name of the Lord? Because there is no other power that can save you.
A. To call upon the name of someone does not just mean to say the name out loud. It does not even mean just to pray (as to God). But it means to place you trust or confidence in their power to help. The concept of this activity is the essence of faith. We must place our trust in the name of Jesus. He alone can save us. If repentance and baptism are the activity of calling on the name of the Lord (as we have just seen) trust, or faith, is the attitude of it.
B. When one penitently comes to God and surrenders to baptism, he places his trust and confidence in the blood of Jesus to cover his sins. He accepts Jesus as his advocate, and dies with Him. Rom 6:3-4 – do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. You meet the efficacy of Jesus’ death in your baptism. In his commentary on Romans, Martin Luther wrote: “Baptism has been instituted that it should lead us to the blessings (of this death) and through such death to eternal life. Therefore IT IS NECESSARY that we should be baptized into Jesus Christ and His death.” (Commentary On Romans, Kregel Publications, p.101).
C. 1 Peter 3:21 – Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you — not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience — through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
• In a reference to the water of Noah’s flood, Peter says that baptism saves us. He explains… It is not a physical washing, but an appeal to God for a clear conscience. There is no way to understand this verse without recognizing the purpose of baptism in salvation. When one is baptized he is appealing to God for a conscience that is free from sin. He is surrendering to the only power that can forgive his sins and save him. He is calling on the name of the Lord.
Conclusion: In Paul’s vivid description of salvation in Ephesians 2, he describes a before and after picture.
- Ephesians 2:1-3 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
Before these Ephesians were Christians they were spiritually dead, living only for themselves, following Satan, and were destined for the wrath of God. But things were different now…
- Eph 2:4-8 – But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
Paul did not want them to forget where they had come from… what it meant to be lost, without Jesus…
- Eph 2:11-13 – Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands — 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
You are on one side of this picture or the other… Are you saved? If not will you call upon the name of the Lord?