One of the most comforting quotes from the bible is Joel 2:32, where Joel tells us that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. In the New Covenant this is repeated in Acts 2:21 and, again, in Romans 10:13.
And it is true, of course, but that assumes the one calling is repentant, and remains repentant. Call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved, but that is only your ticket to come in. You still have to arrive, you have to be dressed properly and you need to bring your ID.
We first need to understand that “calling on the name of the Lord” means asking for forgiveness of your sins through the Messiah’s sacrificial death. It means doing T’shuvah, turning from your sinful life, and working towards sinning less for the rest of your life. If you ask for forgiveness, and mean it, you will be forgiven, but that isn’t the beginning and the end of it- it is just the start. You need to demonstrate your repentance through changes in your actions. You will still be thinking sinful things, but so long as you fight to overcome the sinful nature we all have, and you make progress, you will continue to be saved. Your works, the fruits of your salvation that you demonstrate in your everyday words, actions and thoughts will be the clothing you wear to the “wedding” and the gift you present to the King.
There are quite a few parables about those who have been invited (i.e., those who have called on the name of the Lord and received forgiveness), but because they did not fully repent or because they backslid they did not get to make it to the party.
There is the parable of the wedding guests who were invited but allowed their cares for the world to prevent them from going, so they did not get to attend the wedding. There is the another wedding parable about bridesmaids who didn’t buy oil for their lamps and when the groom came they were too busy trying to find oil, with the result that when they finally had what they were supposed to have already had, they were locked out of the wedding.
There is another wedding parable, this one about one person at the reception without the proper clothing (in those days the wedding host gave clothing to the guests as they arrived) so he was thrown out of the reception.
That’s not all!
There is the parable about the fruit tree in the garden (in the garden= already saved) but didn’t bear any fruit and ended up being thrown out of the garden.
The parable about the three servants given talents and the one returned only what he had been given; for not using what he had been given he was called a wicked servant and was thrown into the darkness.
In 1 Timothy 4:1 we read how, in the Acharit HaYamim (The End Days), even some of the chosen will fall away from the faith; this warning is first given to us in Matthew, repeated in the other Gospels and given as a final warning in Revelations. False Messiahs will come and perform wondrous signs that will fool even some of the Chosen, those who have been saved and given their ticket to Eternal joy and peace. They will turn that ticket in to the wrong place, and just like some stores will honor the coupons of their competitors, the enemy of God will certainly accept you into his realm. He will honor you and shower you with gifts of earthly power and wealth so that you will eagerly trade in your salvation.
Many teach that salvation is irrevocable, and they are right- it is irrevocable, but what does “irrevocable” mean? It means it won’t be taken back. That doesn’t mean we can’t throw it away! That doesn’t mean we can’t disqualify ourselves by accepting the grace of God then misusing or abusing it. Grace from sin is not license to sin, and too many people think that all they have to do is ask God for forgiveness and their position in heaven is set in stone.
We all can receive the forgiveness God has provided through Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) if we are repentant and if we change. We can’t be repentant without showing a change in our deeds and ways. As Yacov (James) says in the book bearing his name, a well cannot give both fresh and salt water. If you have done T’shuvah, and accepted the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) then you have to change. You can’t help it. It is slow, and there is always that fight between the little guy wearing the halo on one shoulder and the little devil on the other shoulder. That fight will never go away, but the more you read the bible, the more you allow the Ruach to rule your life, the more you “die to self” so that the Holy Spirit can live more fully in you, well, soon the little angel looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger and the devil looks like Steve Urkel.
No one likes to hear that when you call on God for forgiveness that you get it, but you don’t have it. Yet, that’s really what it comes down to- remember, God doesn’t work in the same time zone we do. He is, He was, and He will be- all in the same moment. There is no lineal timeline where God is concerned, so you can have something and not have it, all at the same time.
The guarantee of our salvation is not dependent on God- once He gives you that forgiveness, you have it, but now you have to keep it. The way you do that is to show the world the change that the Holy Spirit has made in you by doing more and more of what God wants. You’ll find those instructions in the Torah. That’s what God told Moses to write down so we would all have the same instructions; that’s what Jesus taught His disciples to preach and what He lived completely as an example to us, and the Torah has the rules for how everyone who worships the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is supposed to live.
In a nutshell, calling on the name of the Lord will get you that ticket to salvation, and there is a seat reserved for you, but you need to hold tight to that ticket, not let anyone else fool you into giving it to them, and to show up at the theater properly dressed, wearing the fruits of your salvation. Don’t wait until the first call to find fruit, because this show doesn’t adhere to any schedule. You may be called to appear at any time, and once the curtain goes up the doors are locked to everyone.
Salvation: if you ask for it, you get it. That’s the easy part- the hard part is working at it, keeping it and being able to show up properly dressed when the doors open.