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 associated 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 does this mean – “in the name of Jesus Christ”? We know Jesus means Savior and the name Christ means anointed one. He is certainly both of those things, but being saved “in the name of Jesus Christ” means much more.
What comes to mind when you hear someone’s name? If you hear the name “George Bush” you might think, “He is the President.” Some of the things he has done might also come to mind. Perhaps you also remember his father who shares the same name was also President at one time.
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.
Power and authority also 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 been crippled for forty years 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 I came to you and said “I am here with a pardon from Tom Smith,” would you get excited? Probably not because you wouldn’t know who Tom Smith is or what authority he has? But if I came with a pardon in the name of President George Bush you would know that his name carries 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, namely healing a cripple, 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. You, by your faith, exist inside that realm. Through faith you are in the name of Jesus Christ, inside everything he has done for you. You have salvation. Anyone outside of the sphere of Christ’s work is outside of salvation.
God does not give us a choice. 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.
So what will happen at school – at any grade level – when a teacher teaches evolution and is therefore also teaching that you don’t need your Savior, Jesus Christ? Will you hold on to the name of Jesus Christ or will you try to find a compromise?
What about the seemingly intelligent people around you who have their own opinion about salvation and how to get to heaven? Do you talk about salvation through Jesus Christ as fact or just another opinion? Speaking the truth will result in rejection more often than not.
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 a crippled 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 – perhaps when we fail to laugh at an inappropriate joke. 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.
Sometimes through our confession the Holy Spirit will produce repentance in people, but perhaps more often those who hear it will resent and reject our message. Either way we remain safe and secure in our salvation – in the name of Jesus Christ
As we confess to others we can also apply the message to ourselves. 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.
We are saved in the name of Jesus Christ. Through faith God has placed us inside salvation. Through our confession the Holy Spirit brings others into the realm of Christ’s saving work and they too have forgiveness and life.