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Grace Notes

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THE NAME OF THE LORD
by Philip Owen

            A major motif running throughout both testaments concerns the names whereby the Lord reveals and identifies Himself.  I still remember a project my fourth grade Sunday School teacher gave us more than half a century ago to list the names of the Lord.  And I still remember the number of “names, titles, and appellations” of the Lord that I discovered in a reference book belonging to my father:  253!  Several decades after that “discovery,” I found several volumes by Charles Rolls in which he expounds on a list of names approaching 300 in number.  Were there but one name for our God and Lord, its significance would be infinite.  But the fact that He offers multiple “names, titles, and appellations” by which we may know and understand Him presents us with more accessible opportunities to explore and fathom His infinite character and magnificent works.  But rather than looking at any of these individual names in this space, we will explore briefly two aspects of the more generic phrase “the name of the LORD.”

            Its immeasurable grace.  Throughout history, men, conscious of their personal sin and aware of having in some sense offended deity, have set about to redeem themselves or their situation.  Invariably, such endeavors have involved difficult or painful tasks, lengthy and even lifelong efforts.  From efforts to live by some moral code to expensive and sometimes dangerous religious pilgrimages, from self-denial to self-infliction of pain and suffering and even to human sacrifice, these efforts have been extensive—and futile.  But all those who have attempted such vain efforts are the victims either of ignorance or rejection of this truth of God:

“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

Never in the history of mankind has there been proclaimed a sweeter, more powerful, and more gracious message.  God has announced that men can be saved, that they can know that they are saved, and that that salvation has been provided wholly at God’s expense.  Our purpose here is not to explain the significance of what it means to “call on the name of the Lord,” but to marvel in and to extol the infinite grace that fills that name.  Jesus saves!  What good news.  Salvation is not rooted in adherence to some moral or philosophical system; it is not dependent upon discovering and understanding some opaque hieroglyphic or symbol; it is not founded in some exhausting or excruciating human effort.  No, God freely provides salvation to all who call on the name of the Lord who has Himself paid the complete price for sin.  No human could ever have conceived of a God so powerful, and loving, and gracious as to offer such deliverance.

 

            Its immense responsibility.  With immeasurable grace comes immense responsibility.  Writing to those who had “call[ed] upon the name of the Lord” in Colosse, Paul says,

“And whatsoever ye do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17).

That Paul intends no hyperbole here is underlined by his description of what is required of believers:

“bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5).

Those who know the Lord are not their own.  Those who have called upon the name of the Lord and are saved have an immense privilege and responsibility to live in accord with the grace they have received.  What they do, what they say, even what they think is to be subject to Christ in order that He and His saving work might be honored.

            The “name of the Lord” is not a small thing to God.  In that name lost sinners are saved, and for that name redeemed saints are to live.  But just as God’s salvation is wholly by grace so is the responsibility pressed upon us.  Believers can “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” because they are not left to do so in their own strength.  The “weapons” required to so honor the Lord are “mighty through God,” Paul assures the Corinthians in the preceding verse.  “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).       

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