It is proper, then, that the preacher should address himself to his hearers sometimes as if they were totally ignorant of his message, and tell it to them as a new thing, going over the whole of it as if he believed them to be ignorant of it; it is better to suppose too little knowledge, and so to explain the thing clearly, to the meanest comprehension, than to suppose too much, and thus to let the ignorant escape without a word of instruction.
I try in the simplest words that human lips can put together to tell out the story of how men are lost, and how men are saved according to the words of my text by calling upon the name of the Lord.
Well then, we must begin at the beginning. And we must first tell our hearers, that inasmuch as our text talks of men being saved, it implies that men need saving, and we tell them that if men had been as God created them, they would have needed no saving. Adam in the garden wanted no salvation, he was perfect, pure, clean, holy, and acceptable before God. He was our representative, he stood as the representative for all the race, and when he touched the forbidden fruit, and ate of the tree of which God had said, “Thou shalt not eat thereof, or thou shalt surely die.” When he so transgressed against God, he needed a Savior and we, his offspring through his sin, are born into this world, each of us needing a Savior. We, who are now present, must not however throw blame on Adam; no man was ever yet damned for Adam's sin alone. Children dying in infancy are, without doubt, saved by sovereign grace through the atonement which is in Christ Jesus. No sooner do they close their eyes to earth than being innocent of any actual sin they at once open them on the bliss of heaven. But you and I are not children. We need not talk just now of Adam's sins. We have our own to a count for, and God knoweth they are enough.
Holy Scripture tells us that we all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, and conscience beareth witness to the same truth. We have all broken the great commands of God, and in consequence thereof the just God is bound in justice to punish us for the sins we have committed. Now, my brethren, it is because you and I have broken the divine law, and are subject to the divine wrath, that we stand in need of mercy. Every one of us therefore every one of us if we would be happy, if we would dwell in heaven with God for ever, must be saved.
But there is great confusion in the minds of men as to what being saved is. Allow me, then, just to say, that salvation means two things. It means in the first place, our escaping from the punishment of sins committed; and it means in the next place, the escaping from the habit of sin, so that in future we shall not live as we have lived. The way in which God saves you is twofold: he finds man a sinner breaking his law, he says, “I forgive you, I will not punish you. I have punished Christ instead of you you shall be saved.” But that is only half the work. He says in the next place ”Man, I will not let you go on sinning as you have been wont to do; I will give you a new heart, which shall subdue your evil habits. So that whereas you have been the slave of sin, you shall be free to serve me. Come away, you are not going to serve that black master of yours any more, you must leave that demon, I will have you to be my child, my servant.
Salvation, then, I say, consists of two things deliverance on the one hand from the habit of living in enmity with God; and, on the other hand, from the punishment annexed to transgression.
The great subject of this morning, which I shall attempt to dwell upon in very plain language; attempting no flights of oratory whatever is, how men may be saved. That is the one great question. Let them remember what to be saved is. It is to be made Christians, to have new thoughts, new minds new hearts, and then, it is to have a new home for ever at Gods right hand in bliss. How may they be saved? “What must I do to be saved?” is a cry springing from many lips here this morning. The answer of my text is this “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
What is faith? What is believing? What is calling upon the name of the Lord? In order to get the true sense of this, I turned to my concordance, and looked out the passages where the same word is employed; and, so far as I can judge, I may state from the authority of Scripture, that the word “call” signifies worship, so that I might translate it thus “Whosoever worships God shall be saved.” But you must let me explain that word “worship” according to the Scripture signfication of it which must be received, in order to explain the word “call.”
To call upon the name of the Lord, in the first place, signifies to worship God. You will find in the book of Genesis that, “when men began to multiply upon the face of the earth, then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.”
Now, whosoever whoever he may be in the wide, wide world, who is enabled by grace to worship God, in God's way, shall be saved. If you worship him by a Mediator, having faith in the atonement of the cross, if you worship him by humble prayer and hearty praise, your worship is a proof that you shall be saved. You could not thus worship, unless you had grace within your heart, and your faith and grace are a proof that you shall have glory.
But lest any man should run away with a mistaken idea of what worship is, we must just explain a little further. The word “call,” in holy Scripture meaning, signifies prayer. Now, prayer is a sure sign of divine life within. Whosoever prayeth to God through Christ, with sincere prayer shall be saved.
Sinner, thou canst not pray and perish; prayer and perishing are two things that never go together. I ask you not what your prayer is; it may be a groan, it may be a tear, a wordless prayer, or a prayer in broken English, ungrammatical and harsh to the ear: but if it be a prayer from the inmost heart, thou shalt be saved; or else this promise is a lie.
But the word “call” signifies a little more, it signifies trust. A man cannot call upon the name of the Lord, unless he trusts in that name. We must have reliance upon the name of Christ, or else we have not called aright. Hear me, then, poor tried sinner; thou hast come here this morning sensible of thy guilt, awakened to thy danger; here is thy remedy. Christ Jesus the Son of God, became a man; he was “born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.” He did this to save sinners such as thou art. Wilt thou believe this? Wilt thou trust thy soul to it? Wilt thou say “Sink or swim, Christ Jesus is my hope; and if I perish I will perish with my arms around his cross, crying Nothing in my hands I bring Simply to the cross I cling?” Thou art nothing; wilt thou take Christ to be everything?
Calling on the name of the Lord signifies professing his name.
Men cannot call upon a God they do not know. The necessity of a preacher lies in telling what the way of salvation is, for how can they hear without a preacher, and how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? But the preachers office goes no further than just the telling of the message, and after we have told it, God, the Holy Spirit, must apply it; for further we cannot go.
All you want to know to get to heaven is the two things that begin with S. Sin and Savior. Do you feel your sin? Christ is your Savior trust to him pray to him; and as sure as you are here now, and I am talking to you, you will one day be in heaven.
No man ever called on Christ's name yet who was not elected. That doctrine of election which puzzles many and frightens more, never need do so. If you believe, you are elect, if you call on the name of Christ you are elect, if you feel yourself to be a sinner, and put your trust in Christ you are elect.
God does not choose men, and then cast them away; he does not elect them, and then cast them into the pit. Now, you are elect, you could not have called if you had not been elected your election is the cause of your calling, and inasmuch as you have called, and do call upon the name of God, you are God's elect. And from his book not death nor hell can ever erase your name. Tis an omnipotent decree. Jehovah's will be done! His chosen must be saved, though earth and hell oppose, his strong hand shall break their ranks, and lead his people through. You are one of these people. You shall at last stand before his throne, and see his smiling face in glory ever lasting, because you are elect.
If thou callest upon the name of the Lord thou shalt be saved, because thou art redeemed. Christ has bought thee, and paid for thee, poured out the hottest of his hearts blood to buy thy ransom, split his heart, and riven it to splinters to buy thy soul from wrath. Thou art a bought one, thou knowest it not, but I see the blood-mark on thy brow. If thou callest on his name though thou hast as yet no comfort, yet Christ has called thee his own.
I can never bring my mind to the unrighteous idea that Christ was punished for a man, and that such a man will be punished again. I never could see how Christ could stand in a man's stead and be punished for him, and yet that man be punished again. No, inasmuch as thou callest on God's name there is proof that Christ is thy ransom. Come, rejoice! If he was punished, God's justice cannot demand a double vengeance, first, at the bleeding Surety's hands and then again at thine. Come, soul put thine hand upon the Saviour's head, and say “Blest Jesus, thou wast punished for me.” Oh, God, I am not afraid of thy vengeance. When my hand is on the atonement, smite, but thou must smite me through thy Son.
“In my Father's house,” says Christ, “there are many mansions,” and there is one there for you. Christ has prepared a house and a crown, from before the foundation of the world, for all them that believe. Come! dost thou think Christ will prepare a house, and not carry the inhabitant there? Will he make crowns, and then lose the heads that are to wear them! God forbid! Turn thine eye towards heaven. There is a seat there that must be filled, and must be filled by thee; there is a crown there that must be worn, and must be worn by thee. Oh! be of good cheer: heavens preparation shall not be too abundant, he shall make room for those that believe, and because he hath made that room those that believe shall come there.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible