Whosoever Shall Call

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 49b of 83

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

[We have begun a careful study of this famous verse by looking at the three most significant words it contains: whosoever, call and saved. In our previous instalment, we saw that Paul uses the word ‘whosoever’ not so much to emphasise universality as to stress that there is now neither Jews nor Gentiles. All man, regardless of ethnicity, may find Salvation by faith alone in Christ alone.

In this second instalment, we want to consider the word ‘saved.’ —JJL]

2.  Saved

Paul uses the words ‘Saved’ and ‘Salvation’ not only in verse 13, but also in verses 9 and 10. Verse 9—“[if thou confess and believe] thou shalt be saved.” verse 10—“confession is made unto salvation.” Verse 13—“ whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Now, these words, ‘saved’ and ‘salvation’, are such common words in Christian-lingo that I am afraid many Christians do not know what they mean and are embarrassed to admit it.

Are you saved? What are you saved from?

Some months ago, I asked these questions to two unrelated persons whom I met at different times. Both of them, when asked, “Are you saved?” replied confidently, “Yes, I am saved.” And both of them told me about how and when they prayed to receive Christ. But when I asked them, “What are you saved from?” they both hesitated in their answer. They had never been asked the question before. But they eventually said: “I am saved from hell.”

Well, in a sense, it is true that we are saved from hell. But is that all we are saved from? There is a kind of stripped- down Christianity that is promoted by parachurch groups that speak of salvation in terms of buying a ticket to heaven.

You buy this ticket by praying the sinner’s prayer, and once you have this ticket, you do not need to go to hell; you can go to heaven. So there are many today who think that salvation is all about going to heaven rather than going to hell. Eternal life according to this emaciated doctrine is merely life that never ends. But this is a false caricature of Christianity.

So what is it to be saved according to the Scriptures? To be saved is to be rescued from some evils. In the Old Testament the words ‘saved’ and ‘salvation’ are often used to describe deliverance and rescue from calamity and destruction.

In the New Testament, the terms are used with greater consistency to refer to deliverance from the greatest evils in our lives, namely from sin, from guilt, from corruption, from the fear of death, from death itself, and from the wrath of God.

How are we saved and when are we saved? The parachurch caricature of Christianity says that we are saved at the point when we pray the sinner’s prayer and then once saved always saved.

But this is not what the Scripture teaches us. The Scripture teaches that all believers have been saved, are being saved and shall be saved.

Consider Ephesians 2:8. Here Paul says:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).

The word ‘saved’ here is in the perfect tense in the Greek. Literally, Paul is saying “For by grace you have been saved through faith…”

So there is a sense in which we are saved at the point when we first exercise the God-given faith. At that point, our hearts have been changed, we are declared righteous in God’s sight, and the Spirit of Adoption is sent to indwell us.

We who were dead in sin and trespasses have been made alive. We who were children of wrath have been made the sons and daughters of God. We have been saved from deadness, lostness and wrath.

Consider also Philippians 2:12b. Here Paul says:

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2:12-13).

What is Paul saying here? It is clear, is it not that we have not only been saved, but we are being saved? Otherwise, what does it mean to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?

Salvation is, therefore, not just an event that happened at a particular point in time. It is something that goes on in our life.

The fact is: Even after our regeneration, justification and adoption, there remains a remnant of corruption in us. In saving us, God is by His Spirit sanctifying us. We are being saved from our sin and corruption. We are being converted from our sin.

No one can claim to have been saved if his life does not exhibit a growth in sanctification.

But coming back to our text, we read Paul saying:

9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Notice the future tense? We shall be saved. Paul is looking at the completion of our salvation. He is looking at our glorification.

He is looking at the time when the remnant of our corruption will be completely removed, whether in our body or in our soul.

It is clear, is it not, that we are saved, we are being saved and we shall be saved. When Paul says: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” he is not speaking only to those who are unbelievers.

It is not only those who are unbelievers who need to be saved. We all need to be saved! We must never think that Romans 10:13 and the verses related to it are only for unbelievers. They are as much for the unconverted as for the converted, for Paul is not speaking about our initial salvation, but our final salvation or glorification.

In a certain sense, our salvation is a process. It begins at a point and it continues on until we reach heaven’s glory. It is a process that cannot be broken. No one has been saved, but is no longer being saved, and will not be saved.

Salvation is not about having a ticket to heaven. It is about being rescued from sin, guilt, corruption, death, and the wrath of God.

Those who are saved have eternal life. But eternal life is not merely about having a life that will never end.

If eternal life is merely about having a life that will never end, it would be quite meaningless wouldn’t it be? What is eternal life? What does the Scripture say is eternal life?

Look at what the Lord himself says in John 17:3—

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3)

This is the definition of our Lord! Eternal life is knowing God. It is about enjoying fellowship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ.

Those who are saved are enjoying fellowship with God; and as they work out their salvation with fear and trembling, they grow more and more to enjoy fellowship with God.

Those who claim to have prayed to receive Christ, but have not since grown in grace, in the knowledge of Christ and in the desire to serve Him, simply do not have salvation.

But those who are running the Christian race will one day complete the race. Then we shall shed this mortal body together with all our corruptions whether in our body or in our soul. We will, from that day onwards, enjoy fellowship with God in Christ without the hindrance of sin and suffering.

How much richer is this idea of salvation compared to the caricature of salvation that is promoted by parachurch groups. Let us be sure we know the truth, for the truth alone will set us free.

But now, who are those who are saved? We saw previously that only those who believe in their heart that God raised the Lord Jesus from the dead and confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord would be saved.

But Paul does not only speak of believing and confessing. He speaks about calling. So let’s look at what it means to call.

…to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim