Wresting a Verse
Updated: Jan 20
For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ, 2nd Corinthians 2:17.
It was the Apostle Paul who wrote Romans 10:13, For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. He did not intend it as an instruction in soul winning and he never used it as such. In fact, no one in the bible ever did. Search as you may. Search each and every occurrence where the Apostle Paul preached the gospel to unbelievers. He never used the "Romans Road" to lead anyone to Christ.
In Acts 16:30 he was directly asked, what must I do to be saved?. Paul did not tell him to "call upon the name of the Lord". He told him to "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ". A person cannot "call upon the name of the Lord" until they have believed. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?, Romans 10:14.
Calling upon the name of the Lord is something that a believer does. It is not something that an unbeliever does to become a believer. Imagine two groups of bedouins meeting at a desert watering hole. They are distrustful of each other. The leader of one group might ask the other group, what God do you call upon?. The best answer that could be given would be, "we call upon the name of the Lord".
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered, Joel 2:32. When pestilence comes, when the enemy attacks, when plague runs through a nation; it is those who call upon the name of the Lord who find deliverance. So it was in Israel, and so it is now. Men have been calling upon the name of the Lord since Genesis 4:26. God has been delivering such men ever since.
That brings us to the word "saved". There is a knee jerk reaction in most folks that equate "saved" with the process whereby God delivers a person from sin and translates them into the Kingdom of God. Indeed, that is one example of the bible word "saved". A person who receives Jesus Christ by believing the gospel is saved. He is saved from sin. He also receives a sure hope of the future deliverance from the penalty of his sin and from going through the wrath of God. It is one of many applications of the word.
In each and every place the word "saved" is used in the word of God it means delivered. What the person is delivered from depends upon the context.
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee, 1st Timothy 4:16.
These people are already delivered from sin. By taking heed to the doctrine and by continuing therein, they save themselves from falling away or making a mess of their lives.
2. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me, Matthew 14:30.
Peter is not asking here to be delivered from sin. He wants to be delivered from drowning.
3. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed, Romans 13:11.
This verse gives us an insight into Paul's thinking. There is a salvation to come. He is speaking of the deliverance that God gives to those who call upon the name of the Lord. If you are a person who calls upon the name of the Lord, which by definition means that you have believed on him, you shall be saved. You will not be left to go through the great tribulation.
If you insist upon making the words "saved", "salvation", and "saved" to always mean "passing from death unto life", you will miss much of what the bible is saying.
Romans 10 is a chapter which defines the Apostle Paul's love for the Jews, it describes Moses's forewarnings about belief. It defines true faith as being a belief deep in the heart. It is belief that knows and trusts the the death burial of Jesus Christ. It is not a description of the mechanics of how to be saved.
If Catholic priest is asked to deliver a person from hell, he sprinkles water on him. A buddhist would teach him to meditate. A Muslim would circumcise him and teach him to pray to Allah. A Church of Christ Pastor will baptize him by immersion. 99% of Baptist preachers and their squishy brethren in Evangelicalism will get them to pray a specially worded prayer. Romans 10:13 has become a religious ceremony and is just as ineffective as any other religious ceremony.
The misapplication of Romans 10:13 has sent more people to hell in the last 50 years than almost any other form of sin out there. In times past, I have prayed with hundreds and hundreds of people while all the time enticing them to pray in accordance with the general understanding of Romans 10:13. I can find none of them in church. I can see no changed lives. But, when I look at those to whom I preached, begged God for their souls, waited for the Holy Ghost to convince them of sin and to guide them into believing Jesus Christ, I find fruit unto God.
Almost the only people in church today who trust Romans 10:13 for their salvation are those who from within the church at one (or a few) time (s) became concerned for their souls and sought relief. It may have been at an altar call, it may have been one on one conversation. They will cling to that futile hope against all the effort the Holy Ghost can send their way. Unwitting pastors will aid the deception. Their one and only one criteria for whether a person is saved or lost is their misguided reliance upon Romans 10:13.
These are people who because they are of good character regularly attend church. The Catholics have such people. The Muslims do. The Mormons do. the Jehovah Witnesses do. All religions do. All religions have people who hold onto promises of men wherein they think that they have eternal life. The misuse of Romans 10:13 has transformed good churches into holding cells for the unwitting damned.
They will take their attendance and their immersion in church activities, their private devotions, and all other religious trappings for evidence of salvation. It is not evidence of salvation in a Buddhist temple. Nor is it evidence of salvation in a Muslim Mosque. It is not evidence of salvation in a Baptist church. The evidence of salvation is a clear memory of, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 20:21. It is a witness of the Spirit of God; The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God, Romans 8:16.
I want to see the fruit of the Spirit in my people's lives. I sorrow when I perceive that love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: is not and never does run their private lives. I wait while the great God of Abraham, Isaac and of Jacob extends his longsuffering and goodness to them. He desires their deliverance, but one of the greatest hindrances to that deliverance is some past memory of praying that religious prayer. They will not let God get to the core of their sin to expose it for what it is so that he can heal them in the bowels of Christ Jesus.