Wednesday, March 28, 2012

No Other Name

As I began to study the book of Acts, I came across an old familiar verse, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). I remember learning that as a memory verse when I first became a Christian. The assignment was part of a Bible study class and they wanted us to learn verses so we could share our faith with others. The idea was a good one, but I remember being so frustrated with this verse because it didn’t say the actual name “Jesus” and so I always kept my eye out for a better verse. I know it sounds sort of silly, but I really did want the whole gospel in one easy to learn verse that I could spring on unsuspecting unbelievers in a “ah-ha” moment during some spirited debate.

Anyway, here I am about 28 years later, coming across this same verse and it still seemed odd to me that it didn’t say the word “Jesus”. So, now being the good Berean I am, I got out my shovel and I started digging! I began by looking up the Greek word for “name”. I found that our “name” isn’t the sound of the letters used to address us; instead our “name” in the biblical sense refers to our title, position, honor, authority, character, fame, possessions, etc.
This made sense to me as I realized I have two collections of books by various authors: one that talks about the names of God, and the other about God’s attributes. Even a casual glance through these books reveals that the topics covered are the same – for in every name God has given us, He also reveals to us an aspect of His NAME – an attribute with which to better understand Who He is.

Jesus means, “God saves” and that is an important Truth. But it isn’t the 5-letter word “Jesus” that saves – I think this has to be biblically correct because there are thousands of babies born in Mexico who are given the same name – and regardless of your sincere faith or the extent of your trust in them, not one of these can offer you eternal life! Instead, our salvation is in the One beheld behind the NAME: The Only Beloved Son of God, Creator and Sustainer of heaven and earth, the sinless Lamb of God who died on the cross, the Resurrected Lord of the Universe, God  Incarnate, Living Word, Messiah, Christ, and Glorious King who reigns eternal!

Furthermore, we are not called by the name of Jesus (Jesusians or Jesusites) but we are called by His NAME – by His title as Christ – Christians, and our faith is called Christianity. This may be just a coincidence, but I think not. It shows that even in the days of Jesus that there may well have been more than one man by this name; but through all of time, in every land, and every tongue, in all the earth, there has only been ONE who has the NAME – title, position, honor, and authority of the Christ.

Look at Acts 4:12 again in this way: And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other title, position, honor, and authority under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. And there are many other verses in the New Testament that oddly omit the word “Jesus” yet clearly refer to Him. Luke 10:17 says the disciples healed and cast out demons “in His name”. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 tells us to baptize “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Peter preached the Good News saying, “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 10:43). Finally, in John 14:13, Jesus teaches us to pray, asking “in His name”.

Jesus asked His disciples the most important question anyone could ever answer: “Who do you say that I am?” He is not the Santa Clause figure of the health and wealth prosperity gospel preachers. Nor is He a hippie-like pacifist love-guru (Jesus taught more on hell than He ever did heaven!) The Apostle Peter’s correct response is recorded for us in Matthew 16:16; “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” There are those whose opinion of Jesus is so unbiblical that they practice a form of idolatry when they worship! Have you studied the Bible to know Him well enough that you easily recognize a counterfeit?

My purpose here is to encourage you to be more careful about how you think of the name of Jesus, to take the time to think through if you hold a correct and biblical worldview of who He is. I also want to ask that you encourage others to do the same. There are so many cults and false religions that claim the name of Jesus—but they do so without understanding His NAME; they do not know of His title, position, honor, and authority. They mistakenly think that Jesus was just a good and moral teacher, the spirit-brother of Lucifer, a transformed angel-being, or another one in a long line of Jewish prophets. And at the root of all these thoughts, they have each denied His deity. Furthermore, Jesus Christ has no equal, no substitute, and no vicar who can speak for God and forgive our sins.

Beginning today, when you hear someone say that they “believe in Jesus”, spend a few minutes with them and make sure they know more than just the 5-letter word, “Jesus”; see if they know the NAME of Jesus. Don’t be one of those folks who think they shouldn’t ever talk to people about their faith. Introduce them to the Real Jesus -- the only NAME given under heaven by which men must be saved.

Philippians 2:9-11 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Here are journaling suggestions to try:

Write about what prompted you in choosing a particular memory verse.

Describe the outcome of a recent witnessing experience.

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