Article 41

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"Whosoever Calls Shall be Saved"

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

Here we see the apostle Paul directing us that in this age we are seeing the fulfillment of OT prophecy, even as Peter did on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:21 cf. Joel 2:32). Prophecy, in the first sense of the word, is the proclamation of God inspired men declaring what the Almighty has decreed shall yet come to pass (as Joel did) with Peter and Paul prophesying (in the second sense) or confirming that the prophecy is now being carried out. As they lived during the fulfillment even so do we today. We are yet in the days of the fulfillment of that prophecy Joel made hundreds of years before our Lord came in the flesh. The fulfillment of prophecy, although it can began in a moment of time, the complete fulfillment may well continue for long periods of time. Some prophecies are completely fulfilled in an instant or relatively short period of time and others are completely fulfilled over a long period of time. The latter is the case with Joel's prophecy.

It can yet be declared today that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. However, there are, at least, two questions which come to mind in light of such a blessed truth ever being a "prophecy" (in the first sense) in the first place. (1) Since it was at one time a prophecy only, then how was it not then a reality as it is a reality today? (2) Since it clearly was a prophecy (in the first sense) in Joel's day is there a difference in God's working today as compared to Joel's day? Many do not seem to ever meditate upon certain details or questions as such a prophecy dictates. Since the fulfillment of the prophecy has continued for some 2000 years now, some people's distance from the beginning of the prophecy seems to cloud their minds that at one time the prophecy was not a reality as it is today. Others, who have given some thought as to why this is so, they never seek to expound upon it because the answers to the questions run contrary to what they believe about God. Even others still, in pondering the answers to these questions, and realizing they run contrary to what they believe about God, they twist the scriptures to fit their own ideas about God. Sadly, all of these, some unknowingly and others knowingly, they miss the greatest truth revealed in such a prophecy -- the truth about God revealed in scripture.

While religious men and women look only at what the fulfillment of the prophecy may mean to or about them and would reject what it declares about God, God's people should be concerned with what the prophecy reveals about their God as well as what it reveals to or about themselves. The scriptures speak of Christ (Lk. 24:27; Jn. 5:39; Heb. 10:7). Jesus Christ is none other than God Almighty manifest in the flesh, thus, this prophecy reveals something about the Messiah as well.

An all too common error today is that God has changed in the way He now saves men and women in this age. Salvation has always been by the free and sovereign grace of God in Christ, either in prospect of His person and work or in retrospect of His person and work. Before the law was given it was grace (Rom. 4:1-5) and after the law was given it was still grace (4:6-8). While there have been different dispensations [periods of time in which God's revelations to men about Himself and His work have increased and expanded over and above the previous] there has never been another way of acceptance with God for men other than by free grace through the gift of faith (Heb. 11:1-40 -- Note that the persons there listed span several dispensations). A common error among some dispensationalists is that God now loves everyone and desires to save everyone [Jew and Gentile] when at one time, their doctrine suggests, He did not. While I must admit they never say this outright there is no other conclusion can be drawn about their interpretation of the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy. Others, who are similar to the first group have a slightly different approach. These claim that God was once saving Israel [Jews] by the keeping of the law but now God is saving Jews and Gentiles by grace through faith. Others, still, combine some of the first and second group's theories to come up with a quasi-grace doctrine. I realize this is quite confusing, but when man seeks to inject his own understanding into the scripture nothing but confusion exists.

Without question the prophecy of Joel does not teach that God would change. God, in the person of Father, Son, and Spirit, changes not (Isa. 40:28; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8). Neither does it teach that the work of God in the salvation of a soul would change. Salvation has been and shall ever be by grace through faith in that what God has promised He is able to perform. Those promises have always been based upon the person and work of Messiah (Gen. 3:15; 12:3; 17:19 cf. Gal. 3:16-18; Heb. 10:1-10).

So then, how is the prophecy a reality today when it was not in Joel's day? The answer is that Messiah has come and His name has been clearly revealed -- Jesus of Nazareth. Regenerated souls could always call upon God for mercy and find deliverance (Gen. 4:26; Ps. 80:18-19; Ps. 34:18; Isa. 66:1-2; Ps. 4:1-3; 18:1-3; 50:14-15; 55:16; Isa. 55:6). However, the age or time has come when men and women can call upon God for mercy by calling upon the name of a man, a man who is none other than Jesus of Nazareth who is Christ the Lord (Acts 4:10-12). Men and women did not call upon Jesus of Nazareth as the Lord before He came and thus the prophecy of Joel began to be fulfilled only after He came and had finished the work the Father gave Him to do. And how is God's working different in this day as compared to Joel's? Some would answer that God now includes Gentiles. This is true today (Rom. 10:12). It is even true in a sense in which it was not in Joel's day. However, that is a serious over-simplification of the truth if it is all we see here. Even in the OT dispensations God called many Gentiles to repentance and faith. Some even found their place in the ancestry of our Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, most all of them (once Israel was established as God's chosen nation) joined themselves to Israel as a part of that nation as "strangers" or "proselytes." This is not true today! All who are called by God today, Jew or Gentile, and thus call upon the name of the Lord, are called as a part of the NT Church or the "one new man" (Eph. 2:11-15). Those who claim that the NT (New Testament or New Covenant) Church existed before the NT was ratified by Christ's blood are in error as the dispensationalists are in error. Even Peter did not realize the full extent of the fulfilling of this prophecy at first (see Peter and Cornelius Acts 10).

"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord" has nothing to do with free will. God does not save man by free will but by Christ. Neither does it have anything to do with God loving all mankind without exception for God's love is in Christ and only in Christ. Nor is "Whosoever..." a universal offer because God does not offer salvation. God gives Salvation. Also, it is not a verbal talisman to be uttered for spiritual safety for one cannot call upon the name of the Lord who does not first believe on Him. It does, however, have to do with the promise to both Jew and Gentile in this dispensation that if they call having believed, and have believed having heard the gospel, they shall be saved. When God in His sovereign grace enables one to hear the gospel of Christ that one will believe on Jesus Christ the Lord and they shall call upon His name. Whosoever includes all who call in this way, but it excludes all who do not. This is the prophecy being fulfilled in our day.

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