Not Quite Right

Nathan Brewer

I saw it again recently, another tract claiming to show people how to be saved by quoting a few passages in Romans, and ending with sinners praying.

Romans 3:23 does say that everyone has sinned. Romans 5:8 does say that Christ died for us. Romans 10:9-10 does say that a sinner has to believe in Christ and confess Him with the mouth. And Romans 10:13 does say: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

But the tract incorrectly concludes that Romans 10:13—calling on the name of the Lord —means that sinners need to pray for Jesus to save them. That is not what Romans 10:1 means.

In that passage, Paul quotes from the book of Joel, but the first person to use this passage in the New Testament is Peter in Acts 2. Jesus has gone back to heaven, He sends the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, and they preach the Gospel for the first time.

The miraculous events in Jerusalem in Acts 2 signal something. Peter tells them that it’s the fulfillment of a prophecy by Joel, and part of this prophecy is that “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). At last, salvation is finally possible.

Peter goes on to preach the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Then he says in Acts 2:36 “that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” In Verse 37, some in the crowd ask what they need to do.

These Jews have now heard about the resurrection and Lordship of Christ, they believe the message, and they want to know how to respond. In Acts 2:38, Peter says, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Peter begins by telling the audience that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, but it’s not until the end of the sermon that he explains how to do that. He explicitly tells sinners to “Repent, and be baptized… in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.”

The phrase “call on the name of the Lord” simply means to appeal to the Lord’s authority for salvation. How has the Lord directed sinners to be forgiven? Peter tells believing Jews that it’s by repenting and being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. That’s how.

Nowhere in the New Testament does Peter, Paul, or any other Apostle tell a sinner to be saved through prayer. Although praying for salvation has been popular since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries, it is simply false. Those who teach this doctrine do so sincerely, but that does not make it true.

Sadly, those who try to be saved by praying for Jesus to come into their hearts will remain lost in their sins until they do what Peter says: Call on the name of the Lord by repenting and being baptized for the forgiveness of sins. That is the Lord’s will.

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Author: Editor

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