The apostle Peter said, “Whosever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That’s in Acts 2:21. The word for “call on” “ἐπικαλέω”, is the same as in 1 Corinthians 1:2, which we are studying together where Paul refers to those other believers in Christ in every place who do not belong to the church at Corinth. Now why is it that when Paul speaks of the Corinthians, he wants them to think of themselves as saints. Those that are set apart, sanctified. But he bids them to look at others in the church, he directs them to look not at their character but of their confession of faith as those who call upon the name of the Lord.
When you look inside yourselves, he implies, I want you to be strict in your judgement. Don’t hesitate to judge yourselves.
But when it comes to others, all you can do is take them into your consciences as fellow believers on the basis on the calling of their Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
Actually, the word “klētos”, called, which is used to indicate Paul’s call as an apostle in 1 Corinthians 1:1. And the word “klētois”, “called ones” used to indicate the call of the believers in Corinth as saints as in 1 Corinthians 1:2. All from the same root verb “καλέω”, as this participle “ἐπικαλέσηται” that we find in Acts 2:21 describing those who call upon the name of the Lord. There is a fundamental difference in the voice, however, the adjective “klētos” and the plural form “klētois” referring to the calling of Paul as an apostle and to the believers he’s addressing as saints have a passive significance stressing rather the one who is calling the ones called. It is as if Paul were saying, “When it comes to my apostleship, it is all due to God, the author of it.” When it comes to your saintliness, that too is due to God. Fellow Christians, when we look into our own lives and see ourselves as saints, let’s not become puffed up as though we had achieved this high calling through our own merit and effort.
The good that is in us must always be ascribed to God, the Author and Finisher of our faith. But when we look at our fellow believers, we should center our attention upon their attitude towards the Lord Jesus Christ. We should not try to judge them in the light of what God thinks of them but accept them because of their calling upon the Lord. What their motive was in calling upon the Lord is not our business. We are not the judges of motives.
And old fable tells of a man cursed with the power of seeing other human beings not in the beauty of flesh and blood but as skeletons, gaunt and grisly. Some saints seem to have taken upon themselves this curse.
Do you feel that you see that you are the only one who is right with the Lord, and everyone else is a spiritual skeleton because he is not of the same denomination? Or has not the same scruples of conscience as you? Take him or her into your circle of believers as Paul did, as long as they are calling upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Don’t be like that bishop of whom I heard it seems a Baptist family had a death in the family while their minister was out of town. They asked the minister of another denomination to conduct the funeral service. He said he would have to check with the bishop, so he wired him.
“Could I bury a Baptist?” The bishop wired back, “Sure, bury all the Baptists you can.” Thus that just about represents the attitude of many in the church at Corinth.
The Corinthians were both educated well-to-do, consequently there were proud, even after they became Christians. They had a tendency to look upon Christians living elsewhere with a spirit of contempt. That’s why at the very beginning of his epistle Paul seeks to make them conscious of the fact that there were others who held the faith of Christ in common with them.
And he reminds them of all, but in every place, call upon the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, theirs and ours. He does not use a definite article, “the”, before the name of the Lord. But the possessive plural pronoun “our.” Even as our Lord did when He taught us to pray, “Our Father, which art in Heaven.”
We are studying together 1 Corinthians 1, and in the second verse, as Paul address the Corinthian Christians, he puts something very peculiar there. He says, “Unto the church of God, which is in Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,” and then he adds, “All that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” Both theirs, which is to say their Lord and ours.
Well, the apostle Paul wants us to think of other Christians. Whenever you think of your relationship with God remember that you are not the only child of God, he tells the Corinthians. Nevertheless, it is necessary to consider yourself a child of God if you possess the Lord Jesus Christ. Observe that Paul does not indiscriminately call all men everywhere the children of God, only those who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He wanted the Corinthian saints to realize that all who did so belonged to the same church of God, the same family of God as they.
The Lord is theirs and ours he told them. Never consider Him to be yours exclusively. On the other hand, nobody who does not call upon the name of the Lord Jesus can be counted a member of the church of God or as a child of God. Does this seem too harsh a statement? Is it too narrow? God has made it certain that certain things are very narrow and restricted indeed that we would never dream of questioning, such as the necessity for air, food, and water if we are to maintain physical life. Why then rebel against His physical requirements for spiritual life?
A missionary had been speaking on the subject of universal brotherhood. At the close of his address two professors from a local school said they felt they had found a flaw in his reasoning. Were not all individuals of the human race descended from Adam and Eve? And did not God create Adam and Eve, and therefore aren’t all individuals children of God?
The missionary pointed to the benches in the room and asked, “Who made these benches?” The man replied that they had been made by the local carpenter. “And do you therefore call the benches the carpenter’s children?” he asked. “Of course not!” they answered. “They’re not the carpenter’s children because they do not have carpenter’s life in them.” “And do you have the life of God in you?” was the searching question that revealed the reality of men’s departure from God.
No one can be called a child of God if He does not have the life of God within Him. They that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ must have within them the life of God, or they would not be calling on the name of His Son.
John 1:12 says, “As many as received Him,” that is to say the Lord Jesus Christ, “to them He gave the power to become the sons of God.”
We laugh at the man who said, “All the world’s queer but me indeed.” But aren’t we all often guilty of the same thing in regard to those who perhaps belong to a different denomination than we, though we call upon the same Lord for salvation?