Acts 2:38 (NIV)
“Repent and be baptized,
every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins.”
What is the power in a name?
- Guilt by association
- The right name opens doors
We all want to be called by name. We want others to think well of that name.
Proverbs 22:1 (NIV)
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.
The book of Acts includes frequent references to “the name of Jesus.” Let’s look at some of them:
Start with Peter’s speech on Pentecost.
Acts 2:38 (NIV)
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”
Next up—Peter heals a lame beggar . . .
“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
. . . and explains it to the religious leaders
“Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.”
The Sanhedrin demands that they stop speaking in the name of Jesus. Instead, the Apostles pray for more opportunities.
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.
Philip heads to Samaria.
But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Saul is transformed from persecutor to preacher.
In Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul . . . moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
Peter connects with Cornelius, and God pours out his Spirit on Gentiles.
So he [Peter] ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Don’t miss the fortune-telling servant in Philippi.
Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
In Ephesus, Paul finds believers who had been baptized by John the Baptist.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
It is in Ephesus that even non-believers start casting out evil spirits in Jesus’ name. Everyone notices.
When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.
Remember last lesson, Acts Where? Notice that the name of Jesus is invoked first in Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria, and on to the uttermost parts of the earth.
When the name of Jesus comes up in Acts, it isn’t a new thing. Think back to Lesson 4, Old Testament Acts. The name of Jesus is rooted in the Old Testament.
Start with the Ten Commandments:
Exodus 20:7 (KJV)
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
This implies that there are proper ways to use the Lord’s name—in praise, for one.
Psalm 68:4 (NIV)
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him–his name is the LORD.
There is power in God’s name.
No one is like you, LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power.
There is protection in God’s name.
The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
The Old Testament looks ahead to “the uttermost parts of the earth.”
”My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.
The Old Testament gives us Jesus’ names.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The New Testament continues the theme, from the mouth of an angel.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
The Old Testament personal name for God is the Hebrew יהוה (YHVH). It is called the Tetragrammaton, meaning “four letters” (Yod-Hei-Vav-Hei). It is related to the verb “to be” (I am who I am – Exodus 3:14). It is used over 6000 times in the Old Testament, and is usually translated LORD. It was considered the “unutterable name,” unspoken, giving it the utmost honor.
In the New Testament, Jesus puts a face on God’s name.
“In that name, Jesus, slumbers Omnipotence! The same power that made all worlds lies hidden in that name! The power that will raise the dead and make new heavens and a new earth, is in that name, saving this poor fallen world from all its degradation, cleansing the planet of all the mists that now surround it, and bidding it shine forth like all its sister stars, to the glory of God who made it!”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1898)
The Power of Christ’s Name, Sermon #2592
(you can read it for yourself here)
And I will do whatever you ask in my name,
Thus we often end our prayers with “in Jesus’ name.”
These aren’t magic words that guarantee the answer we want. “In Jesus’ name” – it’s a commitment, not a lucky rabbit’s foot; obedience, not a wish list.
Your will be done, God. In Jesus’ name.
Be sure that you don’t take the name of Jesus in vain when you pray.
Scan back through the references to the “name of Jesus” in Acts. What do they have in common?
Repentance. Healing. Miracles. Changed lives.
People aren’t neutral in the presence of Jesus’ name. The religious leaders tried to stop it. Money-hustlers tried to fake it. The Apostles acted on it, boldly taking it to new places and people.
What, then, should we do with the name of Jesus?
We too should act in and on the name of Jesus. We should trust in its power to change lives—our lives, other’s lives. We should trust in its protection as we do God’s will. We should never be surprised at its power to change circumstances.
And we shouldn’t be discouraged and hide the name of Jesus when we meet resistance. Yes, there are people who are offended by the name of Jesus. They are the ones who most need to hear it.
The Church is built in Jesus’ name. Amen.