Pastor Terry Sartain of
Although this not-so-veiled persecution is becoming increasingly popular in
Really… What is it about the Name?
So if Jesus was just another prophet as many claim, why does the simple mention of His Name stirs up the seemingly peaceful surface of our “tolerant” society?
Behind the intolerance and hatred against Christianity, there is much more than what meets the eye. A while ago, I started to purposefully use His Name as I talked to people in secular settings. Instead of saying: “Thank God for this or that.” I’d say “Thank you, Jesus!”. Or I would mention something very specific about my faith and deliberately use Jesus’ Name. Each time I did that in a conversation with someone who I knew was not a believer, I would watch the person flinch and even become uncomfortable. The conversation would usually not last long after that. What started as lively chit-chat about trivial things would quickly end. I have no doubt in my mind that there is a reason for that. It’s no problem if you talk about a higher being, “the man upstairs” and even mention God in your conversations. But the Name of Jesus is simply not welcome among those who reject Him.
Beyond the Meaning
Jesus’ name means “the Christ, the Savior.” He who offered Himself as a ransom for our sins. The mere meaning of His Name is filled with power. For those of us who have accepted God’s gift of salvation through Christ, His Name is the sweetest; for it opened Heaven’s door and filled the huge gap that separated us from our Maker. But for those who deny God’s gift of salvation, the meaning of Jesus’ Name seems to be pointless. But still, when they hear His Name, they cringe. Why is it so?
His Name Represents the Presence and the Righteousness of God
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 (NIT)
In this first chapter of John, the apostle refers to Jesus as the Word (Greek – Logos). He was present with God in the genesis of the world (Genesis 1:26.) The same verse in John 1 shows that Jesus and God are the same. Therefore any time we evoke or speak His Name, we are evoking the presence of God Himself. Moreover, His Name is full of the righteousness of God and as such, it exposes the wickedness of the world around us.
“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome.” John 1:4-5. (NIT)
Jesus’ Name shines so brightly, that it drives away or exposes the work of darkness around us. The spiritual power of His Name makes the unrighteous uncomfortable, uneasy. Moreover, at His Name, demons flee. At His Name, the sick are healed and the lost find forgiveness and redemption. His Name is above any other Name that ever was or ever will be.
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Hebrews 1:3a (NASB)
Behind every person or regime that has ever persecuted the church and every judge or politician who intentionally misinterprets Thomas Jefferson’s “separation of church and State.” Behind everyone who welcomes cults and rejects Christ; behind the surface of each one of these conflicts there lays a much larger plan than any of us can grasp. From Jesus’ birth in
Our fight is not merely against those who rise against Christ and His church, but nevertheless we must realize that we are at war and remember that we are soldiers in this war. It is not by chance that Ephesians 6:12 is preceded by the verses describing the armor of God. We are at war and the Lord reminds us in these verses that we must put on the armor, stand up for what we believe and fight. Boldly fight. Just like Peter and John did. Not leaning on swords or spears, but on the protection that Almighty God gives His children as we stand up for what we believe.
Are you a Mighty or Wimpy Soldier?
Can you imagine where we would be had Peter and John succumbed to the Pharisees’ prohibition of mentioning the Name of Jesus?
Jesus died, resurrected, sent the Holy Spirit to fill the church with power from Heaven, then there comes a handful of Pharisees prohibiting the use of Jesus’ Name. Imagine if Peter had said: “No problem. Let’s just be politically correct and not mention His Name.” He would have been a wimpy soldier instead of a mighty one. The fire that had come down from heaven at Pentecost would have been contained. You and I may not ever have heard of our Savior.
That is exactly what you and I do if we passively allow our society and leaders to take a stand against our Christ and God’s laws and silence our voices. When we watch people curse in front of us using our Lord’s Name and say nothing, we become wimpy soldiers. When we vote for leaders who call our worship short-sighted and narrow-minded and at the same time support things that our God hates, such as abortion and homosexuality, to name a few, we become wimpy soldiers. When we are afraid to be rejected by people because we don’t participate in their lifestyle choices, we become wimpy soldiers. When we succumb to this world’s pressures and pleasures and live unworthy of His Name, we become weak, ineffective, wimpy soldiers.
Peter and John Stood Tall
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Matthew 16:18 (NASB)
Peter and John stand as powerful examples of how each one of us should respond to criticism against our Lord. Their position was bold and courageous. I am sure Peter remembered Jesus’ words, as He promised him that the gates of hell would not overpower His church. And so Peter and John took a stand:
“Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” vs.19-20
Just like you and me, Peter and John had experienced the power of God. They would not be silenced. They knew that God would be their protection against the powers of darkness. Therefore, filled with the Holy Spirit, they pledged to honor God regardless of what men might do. They knew that their God was above any ruler. “He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.” Isaiah 40:23 (NASB).
As we read the remainder of the passage, Peter continued his speech by reminding the church of their predestined purpose (v. 28) and asked for courage to speak with confidence (v. 29). Finally, as he spoke, the Holy Spirit shook the place, empowering them to continue their mission in spite of the opposition (v.31.)
As the world closes in on us Christians, despising what we stand for and exalting their idols and lustful choices, where will you stand? Will you become a mighty soldier of the Lord, putting on the full armor and standing boldly for His kingdom, even if you stand alone? Or will you shrink into a weak, fruitless, double-minded and contaminated soldier?
Stand, my friend! Don’t let your heart and mind be divided. Commit to your principles, even if everyone else is against you. Allow no compromise in your life. And above all, stand, stand, STAND by the Name above all Names. Live to honor Him. Do not support anyone or anything that stands against Him and His principles. Stand in righteousness before Him, that He may fill you with His power, protection and more importantly, use you in a mighty way to bring glory to His Name and further His kingdom.
A little sparkle of light ends the complete darkness of a room. I pray you and I will choose to be a beacon of light wherever we go.