WHAT’S IN A NAME?
BY: E. M. ‘ED’ DUPAS
FEBRUARY 8, 2008
Our bookstores and personal libraries are chock full of books telling people about Jesus. They also contain untold numbers of bible studies about Him. Some of these writings try to tell us how to live like Him. Others try to explain the truth of His sayings. Walk into most any church on a Sunday morning, and there is a good chance you will hear a teaching concerning the gospel, although it may not be the same gospel that He himself taught. You will also hear someone say a prayer, which will be ended with the words “In Jesus’ name,” or some similar phrase involving His name. How sad that many wonder whether their prayers will be answered. The thinking often is… “I have prayed correctly, so the rest is up to the Lord. If it is His will, we’ll receive what we ask for.” Unfortunately, this is the lot that falls to those who believe ABOUT Jesus Christ but not really IN him.
Jesus taught the people that the kingdom of God was at hand. ‘At hand’ means capable of being grasped by reaching out. Of course, laying hold of the kingdom is easier said than done. Consider the lives of His apostles, and you may realize that entering and possessing the kingdom requires more than a single confession followed by years of religious routine and service. Jesus made this clear when he said
“If any man come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24)
Most of us will not measure up to this.
He also gave us a glimpse of our potential kingdom power when he said
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in(to) Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:12-14 NASB)
Most of us will not live up to this either.
I am convinced these two invitations, and some others, were meant for God’s elect – those who have been called and predestined from the foundation of the world to be conformed to the image of Christ. (Romans 8:29) It is sad that we rarely hear teaching about the elect. It has grown to be a very touchy subject, of which the enemy may be justly proud.
Before continuing, I would like to refer you to a short article I wrote some time back called Are God‘s Elect God’s Elite? Some of the ELECT, whoever they may be, are no doubt alive today and need to hear some things concerning the name of Jesus. As Paul wrote:
“…How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14 KJV)
No doubt there are many who have been predestined to conform to the image of Jesus but have not been taught that it is possible.
A lingering burden from my past is now coming into clearer focus. That is to better comprehend and then share some things Jesus said – things that seem difficult, if not impossible to understand. This burden is stirred up each time I read His frequent admonition of “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” This invitation by Jesus applies to many of the Holy Spirit’s words, whether spoken through Jesus, his disciples, or through one of the Old Testament prophets. The offer is a call to His ELECT to listen to the Spirit for deeper understanding.
Jesus himself never went into great detail on the meaning of the phrase “in my name.” However, he did give us some ways to determine whether we are acting in his name. Time and again He told us we could expect certain results by asking, speaking, or acting in his name. If we are using his name and not seeing those results, it’s time to question our understanding of what “in his name” really means.
No true understanding can come until we broaden our understanding of names. In a way, Shakespeare did us a disservice when he penned “…what’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” He claimed that what matters is the nature and properties of the thing, not what it is called. If Shakespeare had been listening to the Holy Spirit, he would have known that the name IS the nature and character of the person or thing – that for some reason, known only to God, a rose was meant to be called a rose. Throughout scripture the Spirit went to great lengths to reveal that the name of a place or thing was meant to reflect its nature, calling or destiny. You may already know several examples of this, for there are many. Some obvious ones are the names of Joshua and Jesus. These sound different, but are actually the same name, derived from the Hebrew name Yeshua, a shortened form of Jehovah-shua or Yehoshua, meaning “the salvation of God.” Is it any surprise that the nature and destiny of both Joshua and Jesus was to be the “savior” of the children of God, leading them into the promised lands – Cana (Joshua) and the Kingdom of Heaven (Jesus)? In both cases, it was the leader, and him alone who received the instructions from God, and led the people accordingly. Another example of a name identifying the nature or destiny of a place is that of Bethlehem, it literally means “house of bread,” the place where the true Bread was born.
Ps. 91 includes the following phrase:
“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because HE HAS KNOWN MY NAME. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him, and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him, and let him behold My salvation.” (Emphasis mine)
Think about these verses. Millions of people claim to “know” the name of God. Are they all set securely on high, rescued, honored, experiencing a long life and beholding God’s salvation? I don’t think so! Obviously God had more in mind here than most of us have grasped. To begin with, the word “know” in Verse 14 is the Hebrew word “yada,” which usually refers to an intimate knowledge, one that includes, but is by no means limited to, sexual intimacy between a husband and wife. It generally refers to experiential knowledge gained by intimate fellowship.
Let’s look at some other Old Testament verses:
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe. (Prov. 18:10 NASB)
Inspired by this verse, a composer named Clinton Utterbach wrote a joyful song called “The Name of the Lord.” Just think about what the bible verse is saying. According to the Spirit, the name of the Lord is a tower that we can run into. How can one run into something non-physical, which is no more than an identifier? Obviously the Lord’s name in this verse is meant to be more than the name tag on His spiritual lapel. The word “run” in this verse suggests a retreat in time of trouble. Very likely this proverb is meant to correct the thinking behind the ancient tower of Babel:
And they said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves A NAME; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Gen. 11:4 NASB, emphasis mine)
Apparently the inhabitants of the land of Shinar wanted to be safe (from being scattered) and were erecting a tower in which they would be protected from their enemies. We are meant to see that there is no true safety outside the strong tower of the Name of the Lord.
The Hebrew word “shem” (name) implies honor and character or nature. I believe God wants us to know that it is possible to enter into His nature and character by getting to know him and emulating him. In the New Testament the Greek word “onoma” (name) also means character and nature. It includes one’s authority as well.
Remember the words of the Apostle Paul to the Phillippians,
“…Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:9-11 KJV)
Through most of my infant Christian years (i.e., when I was a baby Christian) I understood these verses to say that every knee would bow TO JESUS. That is not what Paul said. It reads “…at the NAME of Jesus every knee…” Do you see the difference? Allow me to paraphrase according to the original Greek language…at (in the presence of) the NATURE, CHARACTER AND AUTHORITY of Jesus every knee should bow…to the glory of God the Father. Jesus is not here with us physically, but his brethren are, or will be – those who are conformed to his image. That means that if you have seen his brethren, you have glimpsed the Father. It means that the things Jesus did they will do also, because they are just like him. (John 14:12) In fact they will do greater things, perhaps because there are more of them. That is, there will be many brothers, living and acting in the nature, character and authority (in the name) of their elder Brother. Because they will be conformed to his image, they will believe as he believed and will do as he did. That means they will have his mind, and so will be led to do nothing but what they see the father do; they will say only what they hear the Father say; and the works they do will be what the Father is doing through them. In short, they will be dead to their own purposes and alive to His.
To use a favorite saying of Dr. Phil, “How is it working for us? (praying or asking in the name of Jesus).” Are we seeing the results Jesus promised to those who believe (into him)? If not, something must change. Remember one definition of insanity – if we keep doing what we’ve been doing we will keep getting what we’ve been getting.
Somehow we must help get God’s elect ready to respond to his call and purposes. You may recall in the story of Gideon (Judges 7) that many men were tested by being asked to drink from a pool of water. Some drank by lapping water as a dog does, and others cupped water in their hands and raised it to their mouths. Without pretending to understand all the symbolism here, I invite you to realize that the smaller group was somehow “trained” differently about how to drink. That means they were following a different teaching or example. Whatever that training was, it engendered absolute trust in their commander, and perfect obedience during a foolish military endeavor, resulting in a resounding victory against all odds.
Unfortunately the traditional church has generally not acknowledged their “300”, much less trained them differently, but instead has been feeding everyone with the same diet. If we are to have a decisive victory against impossible odds, we must begin preparing for it in a different way, beginning with different food.
In conclusion, we must see that too many of us have been using the name of Jesus at the end of our prayers as if it were an official signature to convince Father to act in our behalf. This is not a bad thing – it helps us keep in mind that it was Jesus who brought to us the grace to even ask. However, in order to grow up into mature sons we must see and believe that we are asking or acting IN THE PLACE of Jesus, with His mind, and His full authority, as though He himself were speaking. Incidentally, He is… that is what it means to be the Body of Christ. Where to begin? Well, you might start by studying John 14:12… Jesus said “those who believe INTO me, the works that I do they shall do too…” (not ‘in’ me or ‘on’ me as most translations say, which really mean ‘about’ me). Study the Greek word ‘eis’ (translated ‘in’ or ‘on’) and you will find it occurs over 800 times in the New Testament, and constantly means to enter into something from outside it. Then you may want to compare this same verse with Matthew 18:6, where Jesus referred to the little ones who believe IN Him. In this case ‘eis’ does not appear, telling us the little ones believed IN Him or ABOUT Him.
To act or speak in the name of Jesus means to represent (re-present) Him, literally to BE Him in that moment.
WHAT’S IN A NAME [E. M. ‘Ed’ Dupas] February, 2008 1