Church of God, New World Ministries

In The Name Of Jesus Christ

Today, there are many religions that talk of salvation. But is salvation possible through any name? What does God’s Word tell us?

“Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

So says, the apostle Peter: But how does one receive salvation through the name of Jesus Christ?

First, it is important to understand the importance which God Himself attaches to a name – and to the meaning of a name. It was God who originated the practice of naming things. When He created the first man, He named him Adam (which means man). And Adam named his wife – Eve (which means life or living). Eve was to become the mother of all living.

God also named the angels, and assigned a name to every star (Ps. 147:4). But what is the most important name, the one name which stands out supremely above every other?

“God also hath exalted him (Christ), 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” (Phil. 2:9-11).

The apostle Paul tells that Christ obtained a more excellent name than they (the angels). “God in these last days (has) spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Heb. 1:1-4).

Just how does God the Father look upon the name of His Son, Jesus Christ? Not only did He raise Christ from the dead, He “set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph.1:20).

Down through the ages many men have been named “Jesus,” but there has only been one “Jesus Christ.” The book of Acts mentions “a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-Jesus (meaning the ‘son of Jesus’)” (Acts 13:6). And in Colossians 4:11 Paul stated that one of his fellow workers was named “Jesus,” which is called Justus.”

What does the name Jesus mean?  “But while he (Joseph) thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20-21).

The name Jesus signified savior, Christ was to become the Savior of all mankind. This child was to be the Son of God and also the Son of man, both human and divine, having a human mother, but God as His Father.

What does the name Christ mean? The Greek word Christos (Christ) means the same as the Hebrew word Messiah. Both mean anointed and refer to the Anointed One.

But why was Jesus also to be called Christ or the Anointed One?

As we all know Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit from the moment of His conception. But his real anointing of the Spirit of God did not occur until after His baptism (Matt. 3:16-17).

After this He went to Nazareth and preached in the synagogue on the Sabbath day: He said this: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he had anointed me to preach the gospel” (Luke 4:18).

The apostles recognized that the “rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ (Greek, ‘anointed’). For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed the… the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together” (Acts 4:26-27).

Later in Acts 10:38, the Apostle Peter told Cornelius and all those gathered at his house that “God anointed Jesus (Christ v. 36) of Nazareth with the Holy spirit and with power.”

What is God’s command for all human beings? “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

But just before Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, He commanded His apostles “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in (Geek, eis) the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).

Then is there a contradiction between Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 (which only mentions being baptized in (Greek, en) the name of Jesus Christ”)?

Scholars have long debated the differences in wording between these two scriptures. Some have pointed out that the two prepositions (eis and en) are often used interchangeably in Hellenistic Greek, even though kept separate in classical Greek.

However, the key does not lie in the use of two different prepositions – since prepositions are notorious for their wide range of meanings and uses. The key lies rather in the two different phrases. The expression eis to onoma (the phrase in Matthew 28:19) in the contemporary language was used in reference to paying into an account: “The phrase eis (to) onoma tinos is frequent in the papyri with reference to payments made ‘to the account of any one.’ The usage is of interest in connection with Matthew 28:19, where the meaning would seem to be “baptized into the possession of the Father, etc.’” (Moulton-Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament. 451).

The authoritative Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature by Arndt, Gingrich and Bauer further states: “Through baptism eis (to) on(oma) t(inos) the one who is baptized becomes the possession of and comes under the protection of the one whose name he bears.”

By contrast, to do something en to onomai means to do it by the authority of the one named. It would be similar to a public official in England doing something “in the name of the Queen.” One could even compare the old clichι, “Stop in the name of the law.” To do something in the name of the Queen or in the name of the law is to do it with the authority of that individual or institution.

When God’s ministers baptize in the name of Jesus Christ, the baptismal candidate is not baptized into any humanly devised denomination, but into the very God Family, into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

How does one become a member of the God Family? Few professing Christians comprehend that one must first be begotten, then born into the family of God. (Read our article, “Was Jesus Born Again?”).

In fact, we are now God’s children – though only begotten, still subject to the possibility of a spiritual miscarriage. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is’ (I John 3:2).

In the case of a physical birth, there is first a begettal, then a development period of about nine months and finally a birth. So it is with the spiritual begettal; then, nurtured by the Spirit of God, a period of spiritual growth and development in the “womb” of the Church: and, finally, the wondrous result of immortal, glorified, spirit-composed sons and daughters of God at Christ’s second coming.

When we repent of our sins, accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and are baptized, our sins are totally forgiven. Then we receive the Holy Spirit by the “laying on of hands.” Once we receive God’s Spirit we are God’s children -potential members of His divine family!

The apostle Paul spoke of this great divine family: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:14-15).

Just before His death, Jesus Christ prayed: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are” (John 17:11).

And the apostles of Christ did just that. They kept the believers together in God’s name – the “Church of God”! This is why we read of the “church (singular) of God” in eight places in the New Testament (see Acts 20:28; I Cor. 1:2; 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; II Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:13; I Tim. 3:5).

And the “churches (plural) of God” are mentioned in three places (I Cor. 11:16; I Thess. 2:14; II Thess. 1:4). The New Testament congregations are referred to as the “churches of Christ” once (Rom. 16:16).

What does the Bible mean when it commands us to be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ”? It simply means the minister is to perform the baptism in the name of; by the authority of Jesus Christ.

We are commanded: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (Ex. 20:7). Our attitude toward God’s name should be that of reverence, “Hallowed be thy name” (Matt. 6:9).

But there are those who take, use, or appropriate the name of Jesus Christ – yet are not authorized to do so.” For many shall come in my name, saying (or admitting that), I am Christ; and shall deceive many,” said Jesus (Matt. 24:5).

It is true that Jesus Christ intended His true disciples and His ministers to be able to use His name freely. Christ promised certain signs to those who rightly used His name: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils (demons); that shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18).

When Jesus sent out the 70 disciples, He told them to heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out devils (demons).” And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord even the devils are subject unto us through thy name” (Luke 10:17).

Once, during his ministry, Paul was followed and harassed by a demon-possessed woman: “But Paul, being grieved, turn and said to the spirit. I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour” (Acts. 16:18).

On another occasion seven Jewish brothers had to learn the hard way that one does not use the name “Jesus Christ” lightly, carelessly, or as though repeating certain “magical words.”

They had seen Paul cast out demons in Christ’s name. But these seven brothers failed to realize that Christ had not authorized them to use His name.

“Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, we adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preached. And the evil spirit (which possessed that particular man) answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of the house naked and wounded. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” (Acts. 19:13-17).

The demons knew they had to obey Paul when he gave them a command in Jesus Christ’s name. And they also knew that they did not have to obey the seven exorcists – since Christ hadn’t authorized them to use His name in expelling demons.

There is tremendous power in the name of Jesus Christ – when that name is rightly used by one properly authorized.

Even during the ministry of Jesus, one man was using Christ’s name to cast out demons. The disciples supposed he was unauthorized to-do so, but the context implies otherwise.

“And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out demons in thy name, and he follows not us: and we forbad him, because he followed not us. But Jesus said, forbad him not; for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part” (Mark 9:38-40).

The greatest miracle which occurs in the name of Jesus Christ is the miracle of having one’s sins forgiven by and through faith in that name. Jesus Christ’s death was for all mankind.

But how could one’s sins be forgiven through the death of a man? Christ was not just a mere man. He was both man and God!  Since the Father “created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:9), His life was – and is – of more value than all human lives put together. Therefore, His substitutionary, or vicarious, death on the stake is sufficient to pay the penalty for all the sins of all human being throughout all ages!

The Gentile Samaritans recognized the necessity of being “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16). And Cornelius and all those in his house heard Peter preaching about this remarkable person called Christ: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).

“And he (Peter) commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (v. 48).

The apostles realized the power that believers have when using the precious “name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” (Acts 3:6, 16; 4:7, 10, 12, 18, 30; 5:28, 40; 19:13). They went out everywhere teaching preaching and baptizing in that name. And they got results.

Thousands were converted (Acts 2:41; 4;4; 5:14; 6:7; 16:5), their lives were changed; and they started on the way of life that leads to an eternal crown in the Kingdom of God. They were baptized “into” the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit – thereby becoming potential sons and daughters in the very family of God--the true destiny of all human beings.

God wants you also to repent of your sins, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and receive His Holy Spirit. Then you, too, will be progressing toward a permanent place in God’s perfect, happy, wise, powerful, universe-ruling family, for all eternity.

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