Calling on the Name of the Lord
October 7th, 1962 @ 7:30 PM
CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-7-62 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are sharing the evening services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled Calling on the Name of the Lord, and the text is Romans 10:13. And the context will be the first thirteen verses. We shall all read the passage together; Romans chapter 10, the first thirteen verses. And on the radio, read it out loud with us. All of these words in the Bible were written to be read out loud, all of them. It is only in our modern day that each one has a Book. When these words were written down, books were very rare and precious, and these words were read aloud by the people. And when we read them aloud, we are doing what God wrote them for. Romans 10, the first thirteen verses, all of us reading together:
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
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.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Truly, truly, one of the most remarkable and precious of all the passages to be found in the Holy Scriptures: it begins sorrowfully; a prayer that to this day God largely has not answered. “My heart’s desire and my prayer to God for my people Israel is, that they might be saved” [Romans 10:1]. And that was our subject and our text last Sunday night; “That they might be saved.” Now we begin at the second verse, “For I bear them record,” says the apostle, “that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” [Romans 10:2]. Let us speak now for a moment of that “zeal for God, not according to knowledge.” Had Paul written that of this whole believing world, he would have characterized it precisely, and exactly, and truthfully, “a zeal for God, not according to knowledge.” I have never yet been in any land, among any people, that I haven’t seen that sorrowfully, tragically, painfully, agonizingly true.
These last few weeks going through Central America, I visited an ancient Mayan temple with the step, step, steps ascending up to a height and that house of worship on top, and down here at the bottom, removed about a hundred yards from the first step, the stone altar. And for untold years—because there’s no history written of their civilization—for untold years, every spring the people came together. And in a festival, they chose the finest brave and the finest maid in their midst. And on that stone altar, a priest of those heathen Mayan gods, who are so terrible in their visage, a priest would take a knife, and on that altar lying living flesh, plunge it into the breast of the youth and of the maid. And while the heart still pumped and the blood still coursed, cut out that living heart. Then with it ascend the steps of the temple and offer it there to propitiate the anger of those fierce and terrible gods; a zeal not according to knowledge.
Some of you have traveled in the East, in the Orient. It is endless there and so sorrowful and painful to look upon. There have literally been books and libraries written about the zealous Hindu seeking God, bathing in the sacred rivers, lying on boards filled with nails, starving themselves into emaciation, praying on their knees as they walk for miles and miles to some sacred temple, lacerating themselves, going through every kind of torture that mind could imagine, if by some means they might come to know God. A like thing you see in the whole Buddhist world: those priests in their monasteries, with their yellow robes and their heads shaved, begging with their rice bowls, seeking to serve God; or with their rosaries, counting those beads day after day after day; or writing a prayer and placing it in a prayer wheel and turning it around and around with the supposition that every time it turns over it strikes the listening ear of a dumb and pagan god; or inside of the temple taking uncounted treasure and there carved is a jade Buddha. Or here is a reclining Buddha and the workmen are covering it with gold leaf. Or here is a gigantic Buddha in a statue so vast and big you wonder how they contrive to carve it and sculptor it.
And a bell, they said the biggest bells in the earth—they said, “Ring it,” and I rang it. It’s supposed to awake the listening ear of the god. And as you stand in front of one of the temples, there’ll come somebody and just ring that bell, and ding and dong and clang trying to awaken the god, then go inside and bow and present a petition. Or there’ll be a woman so sorrowful, so heavy of heart; one particular woman, “Why does she pray in such agony?” And the answer is, “She’s sterile and she knows that her husband will put her away if she’s not able to bear, and she is placating the gods, and beseeching the gods, and going to all kinds of sorrowful miserable things hoping to find an open ear before God”; a zeal of God, not according to knowledge [Romans 10:2].
And the labors of men; by their good works hoping to find entrance into heaven—it is everywhere, and Paul describes it in this passage. For some, he says, some suppose that the word is high in heaven, and we must climb and climb and climb, and strive and strive; to rise and to rise and maybe someday possess it. And others would say, “No, the word of salvation, the word of God is not up there, and there, and there, but it is deep, and deeper, and deepest. We must study. We must ferret it out. We must learn. We must understand” [Romans 10:6-7]. All of these things, Paul says, are not true. The righteousness which is of God is not difficult for a man to grasp, or to know, or to understand, or to obey, or to follow. It’s not up there as though Christ had not come down. It is not up there, that a man must strive for, and reach for, and climb for, if by means one rung on the other, on the other, then finally he could attain to it. “Not so!” said Paul, as though Christ, the Word of God, had not come down from heaven. Nor, he says, is it deep, and deep, and deep as though Christ had not come up from the dead [Romans 10:6-7], as though the Word were buried and a man must study. It is hidden in these rocks, and we must study geology to find it. Or it’s hidden in the secrets of this earth, and we must ferret it out and study, if by any means we might attain to it.
“No!” says the apostle, “For the word is nigh thee” [Romans 10:8]. It is as close as the breath in thy mouth; “It is in thy heart,” if you have ever heard a gospel preacher preach, or if you have ever listened to John 3:16 quoted. “What saith it? The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart: the word of faith, which we preach” [Romans 10:8]; nearer than our hands and our feet, closer than the very body in which we live, this Word; “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord,” and shalt be persuaded in thine heart that He lives, that God raised Him from the dead”; that we have a Savior in heaven to whom we can pray, who can hear the petitions of His children. If we believe these things in our hearts, that Christ lives, and if we openly, unashamedly give our lives to Him, we shall be saved; “For with the heart one believeth unto that God kind of righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” [Romans 10:9-10].
And if a man climbs up some other way, Jesus says, “He is a thief and a robber [John 10:1]; for there is one door into heaven” [John 10:2]; as there was one door into the ark [Genesis 6:16]; as there was one door into the shepherd’s sheepfold [John 10:1-2]. And the sheep go through one by one, and he counts them by name as they pass under the rod [John 10:3]; so all of us enter into heaven one way, just one door [Ezekiel 20:37; John 10:3, 7-9]. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that He liveth, thou shalt be saved” [Romans 10:9].
No man shall enter heaven on his college diploma. No man shall enter heaven by virtue of his Masonic ring. No man shall enter heaven because of his stars, or his bars, or his medals. No man shall enter heaven because of his achievements in science or in politics. No man shall enter heaven because of his ordination paper. No man shall enter heaven because of his stocks or his bonds. No man shall enter heaven because of any effort he has made in this life or any achievement he has won in this world.
We all enter heaven alike. We come just as we are, sinful as we are, weak as we are, depraved as we are, lost as we are, human as we are, weak as we are. We all come alike. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in thine heart that He liveth, that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” [Romans 10:9]. And if a man is wise, and learned, and astute, and scholarly, if he’s saved, he goes through that one door [John 10:1-3, 7-9]. A man can be unlearned, untaught; as he’s saved he walks by faith through that one door. He may be a child. He may be old and tottering toward the grave. He may be rich. He may be very poor. However we enter into heaven, God’s saints all march through alike; in the blood of Christ, in the grace of God [Ephesians 2:8], in the forgiveness of Jesus [Ephesians 1:7], confessing Him as our Lord, all alike [Romans 10:9-10]. “For,” said the apostle, “there is no difference, there is no difference” [Romans 3:22].
In a man’s eyes and in man’s judgments, this one may be better than that one. And as a man shall judge and as we follow human standards, this one may be better than that one. But in God’s sight we’re all alike, just sinners, all of us [Romans 3:23], all of us lost [Romans 3:9-19], all of us. “For the Scripture saith, there is no difference, no difference.” But the Scripture also saith, “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed” [Romans 10:11]. However the weakness of our life, and the sin of our life, and the past of our life, and the lostness of our life, and the depravity of our life, and the failures of our life; in Christ, “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed” [Romans 10:11]. We shall stand that day in His presence, and live [Hosea 6:2].
Did you ever think about yourself? Is there the purest soul in this congregation tonight? If I had a motion picture of all of the thoughts of your life and all of the secret things of your life and I put them on a screen here and let our people look upon them, would you blush? Would you? Would you be ashamed, would you? Would you bow your head in agonizing sorrow? Would you wish you were never born? The purest among us and the sweetest and finest, if I put on that screen all of your life; ashamed, all of us, all of us. There is in human nature, there is in the depravity of the human soul, all of us alike: there’s no difference, what makes us ashamed in the presence of the Lord. But oh, in His name, and in the faith and preciousness of Jesus, all of that is washed away [Romans 9:33]. The stain is gone. The crimson is gone. The scarlet is gone. Our sins are gone [Isaiah 1:18]. “And whosoever believeth in Him shall not be ashamed” [Romans 10:11]; standing someday in the presence of God Himself, justified by faith [Romans 5:1], because God hath accepted us, and for Jesus’ sake, in His grace and mercy, welcomed in [2 Peter 1:10-11].
Then that climactic, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13]. I may admire Jesus, and be lost. I may write books about Him, and be lost. I may sing about Him, and be lost. I may commend Him, and be lost. But there’s one thing I cannot do, and be lost. I cannot call upon His name and be lost [Romans 10:13]. For when I do, something happens in heaven and something happens in earth. God has a listening ear, and the Lord hears His people when they cry. The Lord said to Moses, “Moses, come, I shall send thee down into the land of Egypt to deliver My people; for I have heard their cry, and their tears and their supplications have come up to Me” [Exodus 3:7, 9-10]. It has a repercussion in heaven!
The Lord said to His angel Gabriel, “Come here. Come here. Look at Hezekiah clothed in sackcloth, in tears, on his face, calling upon Me [Isaiah 37:1, 15-17]. Gabriel, come.” That night the angel passed over the vast armies of Sennacherib, and they became corpses at the dawn of the next morning’s sun [Isaiah 37:36]. The Lord hears His people when they cry. There’s no exception to that. The publican beat on his breast, saying, “Lord, be merciful to me the sinner” [Luke 18:13]. And the Lord said, “Look at him, look at him! He is walking to his house having finished his cry and his prayer and his confession. Look at him. He is walking home justified!” [Luke 18:14]. God declared him righteous. Not that he is righteous, for he was still a sinner. But God declared him righteous and treated him as though he had never erred and never sinned. God hears His people when they cry.
Peter is in prison; they are about to slay him, and at the next morning’s sunrise his head is to be cut off. But the church is in prayer, and that night God sends His angel and opens the iron gates and delivers Peter to His people, whole and alive, safe [Acts 12:3-17]. God hears His children when they cry. And Paul is out in the deep, and the wind is blowing fiercely, and the waves are rising high, and all have despaired of life except Paul who was talking to Jesus. And the Lord Jesus sent an angel to stand by him, saying, “Fear not, Paul, I have given thee thy life, and all of these who are with thee [Acts 27:23-24]…For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13]. You can’t call upon God and God not hear.
In the heart of Africa, they wrote a song. It’s been translated into our language, all except the kumbaya, which means “come by me,, or “come by here”; kumbaya. Oh, I never hear that song but it moves my heart to a new faith in Jesus. Sing it with me, everybody:
Someone’s praying Lord, kumbaya, someone’s praying Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s praying Lord, kumbaya, O Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s crying Lord, kumbaya, someone’s crying Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s crying Lord, kumbaya, O Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya, someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s singing Lord, kumbaya, O Lord, kumbaya
And the Lord bows down His ear to hear.
We could just spend the night speaking of God’s answer in our own souls, in our own lives. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be heard. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be answered. Whosoever that call upon the name of the Lord shall be helped. Whosoever that shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be encouraged. Whosoever call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered. “Whosoever that shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13].
O Lord, come by me. O Lord, remember me. O Lord, save me. And God moves all heaven to answer prayer when His people cry unto Him. Why, it’s the most blessedness, it’s the most preciousness, it’s the most hallowedness, it’s the most heavenliness of all of the things imaginable to a man’s soul, having God in this life to help us, and to strengthen us, and to walk with us, and someday to accompany us when His saints go marching in.
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart one believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the Scripture saith, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
[Romans 10:9-10, 13]
And that’s our blessed invitation to you tonight. Somebody you, “Preacher, in my heart I look to Jesus, and openly, publicly I come down this aisle before angels in heaven and men in earth, and own Jesus as my Lord. And here I am. Here I come. I can’t save myself. I’m not able. I’m not sufficient for the vicissitudes and fortunes of life that lie ahead. And in that hour and day of death and the grave and the darkness of an unknown beyond, O God, remember me. Save me.” And the Lord hears His people when they cry. Would you make it tonight? Would you make it now? “Here I come, preacher, here I am.” Or to put your life with us in the circle of our church, would you come? I want you to look at that boy coming down that aisle. He is up there in the balcony. That boy’s coming down this aisle to give his heart to Jesus. “Don’t wait, preacher, until we sing the song or you even finish your appeal, I’m on the way. I’m on the way.” God bless him and make him a great stalwart Christian for Jesus. And by his side, somebody you, “Preacher, tonight I give my heart in faith to Christ, and here I come, and here I am,” while we stand and while we sing.