Have you ever heard the phrase “ZERO TOLERANCE” or seen it on a sign. It’s a phrase that forbids people in authority from exercising any discretion. They are required to respond in a predetermined manner regardless of personal history, extenuating circumstances, or even whether the offense was mild or severe.
Usually a zero tolerance approach aims at controlling bad behavior. Narcotics abuse, for example, is a common target of a legal zero tolerance policy; aimed at ridding society of illicit drug use. Several EU nations have zero tolerance laws on the books relating to driving under the influence of alcohol, and several nations include all controlled substances under those laws. Even bullying has had zero tolerance policies put in place in schools and the workplace, even in some militaries.
Common among all of this is an understanding of full enforcement; everybody gets exactly the same treatment without exception. The laws in these cases are interpreted very strictly and narrowly, with no no room for interpretation. There’s strict liability. No excuse, explanation or justification is given any consideration whatsoever.
Today’s verse says EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.
You may well be wondering what on earth that has to do with anything we’ve been talking about. But what we have here, my friend, is the other side of the coin.
When the bible says “everyone” in this verse, it absolutely, unequivocally and very precisely means just that. And, if you stop and think about it, that’s a pretty restrictive rule.
For example, let’s consider the example of a terrorist. What if someone was so committed to their particular ideals or group that they were willing to hunt down and kill others who did not follow their doctrines. What if they were so consumed by — whatever it is that consumes someone like that — that they went to the leaders of their group and got official permission to arrest, prosecute and even exterminate the target group. One frequently reads of radical Muslims getting fatwas against people who violate a supposed “law,” but that’s far from the only example.
What if a person like THAT decided to CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD? Would a terrorist like that get saved?
I’ve just described the Apostle Paul, and God seems to have saved him, forgiven him, totally changed his heart, and then used Paul very greatly for God’s glory. In fact, he wrote more of the New Testament than anyone except Luke.
EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED
And when God says “EVERYONE” He means exactly that.
You might even say He has a “zero tolerance” policy for reneging on the offer of full forgiveness and eternal life. It makes no difference how vile, violent or dastardly your actions have been; if you are willing to repent and call on the name of the Lord, you will be saved. It makes no difference how many people you’ve killed; if you are willing to repent and call on the name of the Lord, you will be saved. Regardless of how unfaithful you’ve been, how many people you’ve assaulted or defrauded; if you are willing to repent and call on the name of the Lord, you will be saved.
Everybody gets exactly the same treatment without exception. The rules of absolute grace in these cases are interpreted very strictly and narrowly, with no no room for interpretation. EVERYONE means precisely that. There’s strict liability. If someone chooses to turn to Christ, then Jesus has an absolute and unmitigated liability to receive that person.
No excuse, explanation or justification is given any consideration whatsoever. No one can be told they’ve committed too many sins. No one can be turned away from their appeal for grace, forgiveness and new life.
I’ve met terrorists in the Middle East on a number of occasions. These were men that Christ touched, and changed. Men who abandoned their murderous violence and are now working to advance a heavenly kingdom. I know a woman who murdered her own child, and then came to faith in Christ later in life. Christ replaced her heart of stone with a heart of flesh, and has filled her with His Holy Spirit; she is entirely a new person.
Now you may be wondering how God could change men and women like this. I wonder as well. Then I look at my own life, and the depth of my sin – and I have the same questions. How could God possibly use someone like me?? And I am forced to admit that I don’t know.
Here’s what I DO know …
He forgives and changes hearts, and then uses people like me and you.
He heals, restores, enables and then works in amazing ways.
And you know why?
Because EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.