On the day of Pentecost, Peter preaches his first sermon. Peter’s explains how the prophesied day had come when the Lord would save His people. He quotes the prophet Joel saying, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh…That whoever call on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Acts 2:17-21). First, God’s Spirit had just been poured out on the apostles. They received the power of the Holy Spirit and many could hear the different languages that the apostles could now speak. After seeing that the “last days” or last time period had come, confirmed by the giving of the Holy Spirit, then the second part of the prophecy was also fulfilled. “And it shall come to pass…That whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
How do we call on the name of the Lord? Our salvation heavily depends on this question. It cannot be as simple as saying “Lord, Lord, save me!” Since Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Peter does not answer the question in this section of his sermon. Later, his audience will ask, “What shall we do?” Peter will reply with “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
When Paul recounts his conversion to an angry mob, he explains how he called on the name of the Lord. When Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, Paul asked Him what to do? Jesus told him to go to Damascus and he would be told what to do there. Jesus then told a man named Ananias to go tell Paul what to do. Ananias tells Paul, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Finally, Paul is told what to do. Ananias attaches baptism with washing away sins and calling on the name of the Lord. How do we call on the name of the Lord for salvation? We repent and we are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
It might be difficult to equate baptism with appealing to God for salvation. There are so many man-made ways to call on the name of the Lord, we can be easily confused and man has made bible conversion difficult to understand. Peter explains how baptism is an appeal to God. Peter states that Christ suffered once for sins, that He might make us alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18). Noah is given as an example. God’s divine longsuffering, mercy, and grace saved Noah in the ark. Peter says that Noah, one of eight souls, was “saved through water.” Now today there is salvation through water as well.
“There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).
There is nothing special about the water; there was nothing special about the ark either. It was God’s power and promises that saved Noah and saves us today. Baptism in Jesus Christ is God’s prescribed way to ask God for His saving grace. His grace is nothing that we deserve or can possibly earn, but it is something that we need to ask for. Baptism is how we call on the name of the Lord.
— Andrew Smith