Powerful Name

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
Acts 4:12

In a previous devotion I said that the power of words is an amazing thing.

Just as amazing to me is the power of a name.

We all have names. And names tell other people who we are.

They also tell us who we are.

My name is Edward Albert Blonski.

I am named “Edward” after my father, my paternal grandfather, and my maternal grand-uncle.

I am named “Albert” after my maternal grandfather.

My name identifies me as well as informs me of where I have come from, at least in part.

Most parents put a lot of time and thought into the names of their children. Oftentimes, the name is chosen well before the child is born. And just as often, the name chosen is something that reflects who the child is and where that child has “come from.”

This practice is as old as the human race.

The first child that was born was named “Cain” and we’re told that his mother chose that name because, as she said, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD” (Genesis 4:1). The name Cain sounds like the Hebrew word for gotten.

Moses was so named because Pharaoh’s daughter said, “I drew him out of the water” (Exodus 2:10) and Moses sounds like the Hebrew word for draw out.

The name that this devotion is about, however, is a very special name.

The baby boy that was named Jesus was actually not given his name by either of his parents.

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him to name the boy Jesus (see Matthew 1:21).

The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her much the same thing, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:31).

The reason the Messiah’s name is Jesus is, as Gabriel says, because that is what he would do.

Jesus means the LORD saves.

No doubt about it that is what Jesus does. He saves us from sin, death, and the power of the devil. He did this by dying on the cross and rising to life again.

And in his name this Good News, this Gospel, is to be proclaimed to the entire world.

JESUS was born to be our substitute under God’s Law.

JESUS lived the perfect life to be our righteousness by faith.

JESUS died on the cross to forgive all the sins of all people of all time.

JESUS rose from the grave so that we, too, might rise from the grave one day.

JESUS ascended into heaven with the promise that he would be with us forever and would come back to take all believers to paradise on the Last Day.

In the name of Jesus many incredible things happened.

For example, Peter and John were going up to the Temple to pray. They encountered a man in his forties that was lame since birth. This man asked Peter and John for a handout.

Peter and John look at him and Peter says, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6)

This is nice, but this isn’t the reason Jesus was born, lived, died, rose and ascended. The name of Jesus wasn’t given in order to just heal the lame, the blind, the deaf, or even to raise the dead.

Even though all these things happened in the name of Jesus, the reason they happened was so that the real reason for the name of Jesus could be done: to proclaim the Gospel for the forgiveness of sins!

When Peter and John are arrested for healing this man, they used the opportunity – as would anyone arrested for doing miracles in Jesus’ name – to proclaim the Gospel!

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.” (Acts 4:8-12).

Today, healings and raising the dead rarely happen anymore. But the proclamation of the Gospel certainly does – and should continue to – happen by and through us!

You are saved “in the name of Jesus.” Now go and share “the name of Jesus” with all the world!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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A Result of Love

“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit … Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
Acts 7:59, 60

The first sermon I preached as a pastor was on the Old Testament text of 2 Samuel 11 & 12.

I remember it well. The Bible story is about David’s sin with Bathsheba. He broke the Sixth Commandment then he broke the Fifth Commandment. Two people end up dying – Uriah, the husband of the woman that David has an affair with and impregnates and the child of David and Uriah’s wife.

That may sound like a rather odd choice for a first sermon in a new parish and as a newly ordained pastor.

But it was part of the assigned readings for that weekend and I saw in this text an important lesson on the consequences of sin, repentance, and forgiveness.

I also remember that the sermon when 45 minutes – the first and last time I ever preached that long!

Still, my congregation was patient with me and encouraged me. I got better at preaching and, more importantly, more efficient with time and content!

My first sermon certainly went better than Stephen’s first sermon.

Stephen’s first sermon – recorded in Acts 7 – was also his last. It certainly had a lasting impression, to be sure!

Stephen laid down the Law on his hearers. He told them, and I’m paraphrasing here (you can read the entire story in Acts 7), that all the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Twelve sons of Jacob, Moses, David and Solomon were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Then Stephen told them that they killed Jesus, just as their forefathers had rejected the prophets of God in the past.

They didn’t like to hear this, so they grabbed Stephen and dragged him out of the city. They threw him down on the ground, picked up large stones, and started throwing these stones onto Stephen.

They wouldn’t stop until Stephen was dead.

That’s quite a reaction to a first sermon! But it is Stephen’s last words that are the most wonderful!

“Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

You know what this is?

It is a confession of faith.

It is loving God with all heart, soul, mind and strength.

It is loving neighbors (even enemies) as self.

The Bible doesn’t mention that Stephen met Jesus or was one of the extended number of disciples. But he was certainly well acquainted with Jesus’ teachings.

He took seriously his calling to be a Deacon that would be the hands of Jesus in distributing food to widows and others (see Acts 6).

He didn’t just distribute food, however. He also shared his faith in Jesus and was not shy about proclaiming both Law and Gospel.

His courage calls to us to have the same courage to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I pray the Holy Spirit will encourage me to never be afraid to tell others the Truth of Jesus Christ and to never stop loving God or my neighbor (even enemies).

©2017 True Men Ministries

______________________________________

Read past devotions at the True Man Blog here.

Contribute to True Men Ministries to help keep this devotional going here.

Listen to the True Man Podcast here.

Subscribe to In My Father’s Footsteps here.