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"A PEOPLE FOR HIS NAME"
by Philip Owen

Those of us who have been blessed with salvation sometimes (often?) fail to give due consideration to the reason God saved us. Our thoughts tend to center on the negative things we have escaped—sin and eternal damnation—and the positive things we receive—eternal life, heaven, heirship with Christ. Yet much of the New Testament really focuses on the why of our salvation. We might cite just three examples found in close proximity in the first chapter of Ephesians to demonstrate that point: (1) “He predestined us to adoption as sons . . . to the praise of the glory of His grace” (vv. 5, 6); (2) “We have obtained an inheritance . . . to the praise of His glory” (vv. 11, 12); (3) “You were sealed in Him . . . to the praise of His glory” (vv. 13, 14). Not to put too fine a point on it, God saves sinners for the purpose of glorifying Himself. Leading a discussion of the Council at Jerusalem, James expressed a similar thought in these words: “Simeon [i.e., Peter] has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name” (Acts 15:14). So, Gentile believer, God has chosen and saved you in order to create a people for His name.

God intends us to understand this comment to mean much more than that He is separating a people from the world who will be called “Christians.” He is saying even more than that He is saving a people who belong to Him, though that is certainly a profound truth. Paul, in similar fashion, explains that God called him to be an apostle in order “to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake” (Rom. 1:5). When the “name of God” is mentioned in that way it is biblical shorthand for speaking of all that God is and does. His name reveals His nature and manifests His character. So during the New Testament church age, God is redeeming individuals for the purpose of revealing His person and work. In broad terms, then, we have been saved to glorify God, to manifest His name. The specifics are as many and varied as are all the redeemed and their circumstances, but the objective is concrete and clear. So how are we doing? Consider just a few elements of His “name.”

God is holy. Do our lives reflect the fact that God has separated us from Satan, the world, and the flesh? Do we flirt with satanic temptations? Do we comfortably fraternize with the world? Do we indulge our fleshly desires? We have been saved to manifest the holiness of God.

God is righteous. Do we seek to obey the Word of God? Do we obey the laws of men—even when no one is watching? Do we want to know what God requires of us so that we might obey or do we hope that we can skirt the commandments and camp in the promises of God? Are we willing to shortchange ourselves in order to do what is right for a brother in Christ? An unbeliever? An enemy? We have been saved to manifest the righteousness of God.

God is merciful. Do we hold grudges? Do we demand recompense before we forgive? Are we kind and considerate only toward those who are kind and considerate toward us? Is our first thought vengeance or forgiveness? We have been saved to manifest the mercy of God.

God is gracious. Do we begrudge spending our time, energy, and resources on others? Are we willing to help only those “deserving” of our help? Does our generosity extend beyond our own immediate natural family? We have been saved to manifest the grace of God.

God is faithful. Can others—any and all others—depend on us? Do we do what we’ve promised to do when we’ve promised to do it? When a need arises, a problem foments, or a debate begins, do others know that we’ll stand on God’s Word regardless of the cost? We have been saved to manifest the faithfulness of God.

God is true. God is loving. God is good. But you get the picture. We are to be a people for His name.

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