Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Authority of Jesus Name

Colossians 3:17 says, " And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." This was one of the very first Bible passages I committed to memory in 1965. I didn't know much but I had turned to the Lord Jesus with all of my heart and wanted only to please Him. Over the years the Lord has allowed me to be influential in, and baptize a number of people in the wonderful name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins. For this I want to thank God. But I have been thinking a lot lately (over the past three or four years) about what it means to be baptized in Jesus name and thus this post.

In Acts 2:37-39, when the Apostle Peter had concluded his message to his hearers on the Day of Pentecost, they apparently recognized the truth of what Peter preached for "they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Peter's answer was clear and simple. They needed to repent of their sins, not just acknowledge they were sinners but forsake their sins also. They needed to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Peter said, "for the remission of sins," and God would fulfill His promise by giving them the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that about three thousand souls "that gladly received his word were baptized," and were added to the church that first day! (What a way to start a church. God do it in Sedona, in Jesus name.)

I must admit that I have never been a believer in what is known as "baptismal regeneration." And I have wondered over the years if some people who have been baptized in Jesus name in obedience to Peter's admonition  really understood how or why being baptized in Jesus name worked. I have preached, without exception, repentance  and baptism in Jesus name throughout my ministry. I have always believed that one needed to receive the Holy Ghost with the accompanying evidence of speaking in other tongues, e.g., languages, as the Spirit of God gives the utterance to be saved. I firmly believe that the Acts 2:38 message is what the Lord Jesus was speaking of in John 3:5 when He said to Nicodemus, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." It would be far too coincidental for the Lord to have chosen Peter to open the gospel in Acts 2 to the Jews, Acts 8 to the Samaritans, and Acts 10 to the Gentiles, for him not to know what his message should be. And it was the Apostle Peter who told us in 1st Peter 3:21 that, "baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ..." (Peter's likening baptism to Noah being save by water is a subject for another time)

I hope I have made myself clear enough so that no one thinks I have changed my belief in the necessity of the Acts 2:38 message for salvation. Having said that, I am made to think of what the Apostle Paul said in 2nd Corinthians 5:18-21 where after preaching the gospel to the Corinthians said, "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, (that is to know) that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Let me point out verse 20 that jumps out at me, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." 

An ambassador never speaks for himself but for the authority vested in him by his country. Paul was speaking with authority when he said, "we are ambassadors for Christ..." He was saying, in essence, that it was the same as if God was beseeching them by him, as if Christ Himself was saying to the Corinthians, "be ye reconciled to God." My mind goes back Acts 3:1-12 when Peter and John were about to enter the temple and saw the lame man. Peter said to the lame man at the gate of the temple called beautiful where he had been laid from his youth, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." When the people all came running to them the Apostle Peter said  "unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?" Peter was acting as the ambassador of God. He denied any power or holiness of his or John's part and said that is was the Name of Jesus Christ, "through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all."

I was privileged to preach for a friend several years ago where I told the church that if they were to go and do for their community what the Apostles did in the Book of Acts, they would not have room in their building to hold all the people who would come. I still believe that. We are not acting for ourselves when we witness to people. We are Ambassadors for Jesus Christ. When we pray for the sick in Jesus name, it is as though the Lord Himself was there in person, laying His hand on them and healing them. The Lord Jesus told Philip in John 14:12  "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." How we love the scripture in John 14:9  where Jesus told Philip "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?" But read the rest of Jesus' words. He was saying in verses 10 and 11, "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake."

Let me boldly say, all timidity aside, that whatsoever we ask God for, in Jesus name, it is as if the Lord Jesus was doing the asking. We are Ambassadors! An ambassador, if asked by a foreign government for an action to be done by his government would, unless he had authority in advance, go to his government for instructions. He would not try to represent himself. We, as ambassadors, have received advance authorization from our heavenly King to act on His behalf. In Mark 16:15-20 the Lord Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they 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." And after the Lord had given them their authority and was "received up into heaven  and sat on the right hand of God," the Bible says, "... they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."

Everybody you see every day who have not obeyed the gospel of the Lord jesus are lost souls in need of God's message of redemption. Without the saving message of the gospel, they will go to a devil's hell. We are His Ambassadors to the world! Should not we then understand, as the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 2:13 "... it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." 

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