In the Name of Jesus Christ

Based on: Acts 4:8-12

Out of a burning bush God commissioned Moses and said, “I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”  Moses was concerned.  What if the Israelites ask who this God is who is sending him, “What is his name?”  The Lord responded, “I AM WHO I AM.”  Tell them “I AM” has sent you.

What a name to be connected with.  The “I AM” who never changes – even in his love for us.  Imagine being sent to free the Israelites in the name of the Great I AM – you would have God’s grace and mercy to comfort the Israelites and also the power and authority to command Pharaoh to let the Israelites go.

The Great I AM has given us another name by which we know him and in which we find grace and authority.  It is the name of Jesus Christ.  In the name of Jesus Christ we are saved and in the name of Jesus Christ we confess to others.

What is in a name?  We know that “Jesus” means Savior and the name “Christ” means anointed one.  Jesus is certainly both of those things, but being saved “in the name of Jesus Christ” – what does that mean?

What comes to mind when you hear someone’s name? If you hear the name “Barack Obama” you might think, “He is the President.”  Some of the things he has done might also come to mind.

Now think of the name Jesus Christ.  Other things come to mind: the crucifixion, the resurrection, the Son of God.  The “name of Jesus Christ” includes all of that and more – everything he has done for us, everything the Bible tells us about him. That is his name.

Power and authority come with this name.  Peter described the power the name of Jesus Christ has to heal.  When the Israelite rulers asked Peter how he healed the man who had was unable to walk since birth he said, “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth . . . that this man stands before you healed.”

But not every name has power and authority associated with it.  If you are in federal prison serving a life sentence and the guard came to you and said, “I have a letter of pardon for you from Pastor Draper,” would you get excited?  Probably not. You know that Pastor Draper does not have authority to release you from federal prison.  But if the guard came with a pardon in the name of President Obama you would know that his name has the authority to set you free.

In the same way, it is only the name of Jesus Christ that sets us free from death and hell.  As Peter and John were standing in front of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling body, on trial for doing a good deed, Peter said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

The name of Jesus Christ and salvation are essentially the same thing.  Think again about everything the name of Jesus Christ calls to mind:  his death and resurrection, his work of paying for our sins, his power to save.  Think of the work of Christ as a big bubble.  You, through faith, exist inside the realm of Christ’s work – inside the bubble.  Through faith you are in the name of Jesus Christ, inside everything he has done for you.  You have salvation.  Anyone outside of the bubble of Christ’s work is outside of salvation.

God does not give us a choice about who we want to save us.  Jesus Christ is the only name that saves.  This is not the popular or politically correct thing to say.  When you say Jesus Christ is the only name that saves then you exclude every other religion as false and leading people to hell.  The world calls this arrogant and unloving. 

Before we start to think along with the world that this message excludes people or is unloving let us remember what God said through Peter, “there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  The name of Jesus Christ was “given to men.”  This means all mankind, none are excluded.  Peter says this is the name by which “we” are saved.  That “we” included the religious leaders standing in front of him as well as every person you meet day after day. 

That “we” even includes you and me.  It means that salvation in the name of Jesus Christ is still ours even though we sometimes shrink back from the world’s accusations of  “unloving” and “arrogant.”

Now what do we do with this knowledge?  There is no need to shrink back from the world and certainly no reason to look down on those who are outside of the name of Jesus Christ.  Instead, in the name of Jesus Christ we confess to others.

The word “confess” usually brings to mind the idea of admitting I have dome something wrong.  But here we are talking about confessing our faith.  In a way the two are related.   To confess simply means to agree.  As Christians we agree with God.  When we confess our sins we agree with God and his Word which says we are sinful human beings.  When we confess our faith we agree with what God says about our salvation – we agree with what God says about Jesus Christ. 

We are in this wonderful position – surrounded by the name of Jesus Christ, protected from evil by all that Christ is and all he has done for us.  This is our salvation and we want others to be in this place with us.

For that to happen they need to hear the name of Jesus Christ and they hear it when we confess our faith.  Consider what Peter and John did when asked about the man who was healed – they told the leaders of Israel about Jesus Christ who was crucified and was raised to life. 

How did the disciples get this opportunity to proclaim their faith?  They did a good deed.  They healed this man.  The same is true for us.  We do not miraculously heal people, but we do live our Christian life.  As we live our lives others will want to know why we are different or they might ridicule us.  Either way we have an opportunity to confess our faith.

What do we say when we get the opportunity?  Listen to what Peter said, “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead.”  They spoke the basics – Jesus died and was raised back to life and this Jesus is the only way to heaven.  They also pointed out the sin of those in front of them.  They had crucified Jesus and therefore they needed a Savior.

Whether people repent when they hear our confession or ridicule and reject us, it doesn’t matter.  Either way we remain safe and secure in our salvation – in the name of Jesus Christ

The name of Jesus Christ means he has also done for us what we confess he has done for the world.  He died and rose again for our sins and we are forgiven in the name of Christ for missed opportunities to confess and for times we don’t live our Christian life to create those opportunities.

The name of Jesus Christ is the name that is superior even to the angels, the name that is above every name, the name at which every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth.  This name, full of grace and mercy, power and authority, is the name we bear as confessing Christians and it is the name by which we have eternal life.

Amen.

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