Today’s topic focuses on THE NAME OF JESUS, what the Bible says about it and the meaning of the expression, “in the name of Jesus.”
Dear friend, there are so many things that are said and done in today’s religious world that if you do not look carefully and check with the scripture, you may be carried away and confused by the seemingly powerful preaching and activities in modern Christianity. Do not be deceived. Listen to what Jesus said in a clear statement:
Mat 7:21-23 "Not everyone who keeps saying to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will get into the kingdom from heaven, but only the person who keeps doing the will of my Father in heaven. (22) Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name, drove out demons in your name, and performed many miracles in your name, didn't we?' (23) Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who practice evil!'"(ISV)
Why would the Lord condemn believers who are doing good works in His name? Let us find out from the word of God itself. But before we continue, please let us pray:
Our Father who art in heaven, we come to you at this time Lord with great appreciation and thanksgiving for the life you have generously bestowed on us and for the opportunity we have to share in your wisdom and power. We thank you for our leaders in this country and for how things are progressing concerning change. We pray that may we as a nation have the courage to take change for the better to the end so that our children, the future generation will have a better legacy. We ask dear lord for insight and knowledge of your word in this study this day through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen
Dear friend, what is the name of Jesus? Many use His name for many things. But technically Jesus the messiah can be described as Emmanuel and called Jesus bar Joseph for he was born into the family of Joseph a godly man and carpenter, the husband of Mary. Jesus was to be known as ‘Emmanuel’ just like Isaiah also gave 5 names for Him. He said he would be called or known as Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, Prince of peace etc. (Isa 9.6). In Mat. 1:21-24 we read:
‘And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, (Isa 7:14) saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name EMMANUEL, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.’
Luke 2:21 “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”
The name Emmanuel is a name that preaches or proclaim the incarnation of the Lord. From John 1.1, and John 1.14, the picture of how God (Deity or the Eternal Uncreated Being) took the decision to become human was clearly painted:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
The name Jesus is from a Hebrew name which means saviour. It is actually Joshua or Yehoshua. For instance, consider Act 7:45 “Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;” (cf Heb 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.) This passages were not talking about Jesus our Lord the messiah or the Christ. They were referring to Joshua the Hebrew who took up leadership of the Jews when Moses died.
It is common to hear of using the name of Jesus because it is so powerful. The name of Jesus or the name, ‘JESUS’ has become a panacea for all kinds of ailments, diseases and conditions that it has become difficult to separate the name Jesus from the African Traditional Religious mystical powerful charms that people invoke to rid themselves of any problem. It is similar to certain incantations that are made to access the power of African gods. In Jesus name is now a formula like the incantations of JUJU priests who invoke the name of their gods by certain statements and their gods respond to those incantations.
The efficacy and rationale for using the name is asserted from texts like:
Php 2:8-11 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Act 3:6) “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
In all this passages, the people of God and followers of Jesus did things in Jesus name. It is useful therefore for us to understand the meaning of the use of the name, JESUS and the expression, “In the name of Jesus” especially when Jesus told some who used the name to depart from Him and said they were not workers of righteousness but workers of evil or iniquity.
Dear Listening friend, there is a difference between mentioning the name of Jesus and being authorized to use it. Two passages help us know what it means to do something in the name of Jesus. LTBS
Act 19:11-16 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims." Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?" And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
Act 4:7 -12 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, "By what power or by what name did you do this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
Analyzing these two texts of the Bible we see that Paul used the name of Jesus and he was successful. Even demons obeyed him. The seven sons of Sceva however did not succeed even though they were using the name. The difference I explained in the second text. In that text, the Jews were asking in whose name the apostles were preaching and doing miracles? And they said who gave the name and equated it with authority or power. They said in whose name or by what power? To do something in the name of someone is to do it as an authorized representative. It’s like when police officers come to your house and knock saying “open this door in the name of the Law!” We will immediately understand that the police officers are asking us to open our doors because the Law empowered them to do so. They are authorized to do the work of police officers by the Law. In the same vein, Jesus Christ authorized the apostles to use his authority and power to do their work. So when they say In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” they are actually saying in the authority of Jesus (over your illness) stand up and walk! As a matter of fact, two translations so render it. The easy to Red Version renders it this way: But Peter said, "I don't have any silver or gold, but I do have something else I can give you. By the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth--stand up and walk!" and GW version says: However, Peter said to him, "I don't have any money, but I'll give you what I do have. Through the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, walk!"
Here the name stands for the authority behind the name. Jesus was asked a similar question in Matt. 21.23 “And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?"
Dearly beloved listener, are you getting the difference now? If you are not authorized to do something and you try to do it, then you are involved in an illegality or a crime. If you are not a police officer and you are trying to ask people to open their doors to you in the name of the Law when the Law has not empowered you to do that, then you are a robber and a thief.
The 7 sons of Sceva could not cast out the demon in Jesus’ name because Christ did not authorize them. They were not part of the apostolic team that he sent out empowering them to have dominion over all forces! This is why the demon spoke and accepted that it knows Jesus whom God gave all authority over it and also Paul whom Christ delegated authority to and empowered to deal with demons. The Sceva family however cannot use the authority of Jesus to harass this demon because it knows those having that power.
Using the name of Jesus cannot get anyone anywhere unless he or she is so authorized. The use of the phrase “In Jesus name” or the cliché, “In the name of Jesus” is so rampart today in our world that one may be tempted to think all these uses are genuine. But when Jesus said, I never knew you, it meant that these people were neither having a relationship with Him nor were they authorized!
In the light of the commandment of Jesus that all that a Christian does and thinks must be done in the authority of Christ, Col 3:17 And whatever you do, whether by speech or action, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. It is important to make sure that we really know what it means to do something in the name of Jesus.
Dear friend, Let us examine some of the abuses of the use of Jesus name that is rampart in Christendom today. There are many acts churches perform in the name of Jesus but are not in His name. Can one do something which Jesus did not command in His name? Can one do what violates the will of God in His name? Can one add a church practice, or doctrine not found in the word of God in God’s name? Will God authorize something that goes contrary to His will? For example will God authorize a man to marry another man? Yet some of these abominable acts are been done in the name of Jesus! Let us look at some examples:
- Some churches baptize infants. During the ceremony they say, I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Even though the statement is made that the baby is baptized in Jesus name, no baby can be baptized for the forgiveness of sin because babies have no sin. Only sinners need baptism. Jesus himself was a baby and did not have sin neither did he inherit any sin from his father of Adam. God has already cleared the confusion many have thinking that the guilt of the sin of Adam passed on to all men. LTBS:
Eze 18:19-20 Yet you say, Why? Does not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son has done justice and right, has kept all My statutes, and has done them, he shall surely live. (20) The soul that sins, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, nor shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be on him.
The consequence of the sin of a father may affect the son like the cursing of the earth because of Adam has affected all men and sin entered the world. But the guilt of sin did not pass to all. No one is guilty because Adam was guilty. Everyone who commits sin need to repent of the sin he has committed not repent from Adam’s sin. If the guilt of sin of Adam passed on to all human beings then Jesus Christ himself would have been born a sinner because He was born a human being yet we know that he had no single sin on Him. Dear listener, this is an example of a misuse of Jesus name to make a church practice not found in the Bible appear holy and good. Those who are subject to baptism in the name of Christ are those old enough to have committed sins and having believed the gospel of Jesus and realized their state are moved to repent of their sins and submit themselves for baptism. Baptism is for those old enough to believe, repent, confess their faith in Christ and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. Jesus said this about little children, “"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 18:3) Again in Mat 19:14 “but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." (ESV)
- There are people saying “In Jesus name” before starting a prayer: Many people today believe that for a prayer to be effective, a person must first of all call the name of Jesus so as to destroy the power of evil around. . I have heard that if one begins his prayer with the name Jesus, the mere mention of the name in the prayer scatters the enemy spirits hovering around the believer. It is said to create a bolt of light that flashes through the spiritual world and discomfits the enemy spirits destroying any and all of them that are in the path of the bolt! What does the Bible say especially from the fact that Jesus himself taught His disciples how to pray saying, Our Father who art in heaven…? We start our prayer by addressing the person to which the prayer is offered. Those in Christ have no need to fear that their prayers will be hindered until they mention the name of Jesus. They are already authorized to pray to the Father through Him and no one or Spirit can block our prayers! If you need to say in Jesus name before you start your prayer, maybe you are not in Christ!
- What about Calling Holy Ghost fire to consume their enemies in the name of Jesus Christ? Jesus himself asked that prayers should be said for our enemies. LTBS: Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Does this sound as if anyone can be authorized to hate his enemy today and ask Jesus to send Holy Ghost fire to consume them? Two of the disciples of Jesus wanted to do just that, calling fire to come and consume those who insulted Jesus by not welcoming Him. What did Jesus tell them? Yes, let us fire them? LTBS
Luk 9:54-56 And seeing, His disciples James and John said, Lord, do You desire that we command fire to come down from Heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did? (55) But He turned and rebuked them and said, You do not know of what spirit you are. (56) For the Son of Man has not come to destroy men's lives, but to save.
- Establishing denomination in the name of Jesus Christ. Many are using the name of Jesus Christ to cause division in the body of Christ by establishing ministries. Remember denomination simply means division. The Bible warns against division in the Body of Christ. But many are claiming to have received revelation from God to establish ministry. This ministry is another way of dividing the body of Christ. In time, these ministries do metamorphose into churches that are different from the church of the Lord Himself. Division and denominating Jesus by going after charismatic men that we like has been sinful from the beginning. LTBS 1Co 1:10-13 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. (11) For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. (12) What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ." (13) Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (ESV)
It was wrong to divide the body of Christ by following Peter or Paul and Apollos 2000 years ago and it is still wrong today in spite of the claim that it is being done in Jesus name.
Amazingly, people have graduated from using the name of Jesus Christ to the blood of Jesus. People are using the blood of Christ to cover vehicles, to cover the highway, to cover their goods in the market, to cover their offices, to cover their children, to cover their wives and husbands. All these are deviations from the word of God. The blood of Jesus was shed for our sins and not for covering of vehicles and the like!
Dear friend, would you like to know more about the church of Jesus Christ, the one in which He is the foundation and the founder? The one that follow the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and that was saved by the blood of Christ? Why don’t you join us for our Annual Bible Lectureship that will be coming up 27th -29th November 2015 where six seasoned lecturers will be taking us through the Bible to rediscover the church of Christ in a world of confusing churches and doctrines? Please mark your calendars. The theme of this year’s lectureship is a question. ARE YOU A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH FOR WHICH JESUS DIED? It is a serious question that deserves a biblical answer so that we would NOT hear Jesus saying: “On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.''” (Mat 7:22-23). Heb 10:31 says It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
You can worship with any church of Christ near you to discover the joy of undenominational worship in spirit and in truth where Christ is the only head of the church and each congregation is self –governing under Christ and not under a man or organization.