Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The power and comfort of the name of Jesus

This is about what the Lord does in times of apostasy and it is about why He does it.

There are false teachers out there, and they are not coming in singly anymore, but brazenly, in packs.

They are corrupting the precious faith, and with curling lips and sharp teeth, they are dragging off many an unwary person. For those of us who warn and cry out, seeing these captured ones fail to heed and become devoured prey is heartbreaking- and that word doesn't even cover the spiritual sadness at knowing there are so many who fell, are falling and will fall to satan's wiles.

However, despite there being so many false teachers we praise the Lord because He does not leave us without good teachers! He is always raising up someone to teach, preach, and exhort! God continues to call preachers and teachers and the Holy Spirit still empowers preachers and teachers to speak the Word to the sheep.

Look at the time of Isaiah. In 739 BC, King Uzziah died after having been King for 52 years. Isaiah was called to preach that same year. The LORD gave him a unique opportunity at the time of his call- a vision of Himself in the Holy Temple! Isaiah was devastated at this, seeing the glory of the LORD and his own sinfulness. But it's an astoundingly tender moment, the angel cleansed Isaiah's lips and he was pronounced clean, his sins atoned for. (Isaiah 6:6-7).
Tiepolo: The Prophet Isaiah

The LORD then gave Isaiah his commission; preach doom to the people. Preach their abandonment. Preach their judgment. Preach ruin.

Isaiah asked how long he was to do this. The LORD answered, "Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste." (Isaiah 6:11) In other words, until the end, until you die, for all your long life. Not so seeker friendly, is it?

However, the LORD left Isaiah with some hope, despite the difficulty of what He was called to do. God said a tenth would still remain in the Land.

God showed Isaiah what He was going to do amongst these people:

"Go, and say to this people:
“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9-10)

Matthew Henry's commentary says of verse 9, "Many hear the sound of God's word, but do not feel the power of it. God sometimes, in righteous judgment, gives men up to blindness of mind, because they will not receive the truth in the love of it."

This is called the wrath of abandonment. John MacArthur preached on this same notion, (here, here, and most recently, here) as seen not only in Isaiah 6 but in the NT book of Romans 1. At a certain point, God gives a nation or a vast populace over to their blindness and stubbornness.

Art by Borislav Sajtinac
Though seasons come and go where it seems the great amount of people believe and live according to His Word, there are also seasons of time that come where it seems that the great amount of the people do not believe in Jesus nor live His word. Those times are now. It is my opinion, that it is the last cycle of apostasy directly before the time leading to the Great Apostasy. (2Thessalonians 2:3). It's hard.

Matthew Henry's commentary reassures us over the wrath of abandonment, "Christians need not fear this awful doom, which is a spiritual judgment on those who will still hold fast their sins."

But it's no harder for us than it was for the first century Christians who lived in a time where everyone was apostate, being the only Christians on earth!

During this time of apostasy it stands to reason that some apostates will be teachers. Yes, there are many bad teachers. But God has raised up good teachers, as shown in the example of Isaiah himself. Even in a time of wrath and abandonment, He sent an anointed one to preach to the people, and in today's time He has done the same. He raises up good teachers to edify us or in some cases, remind us of the wrath of God. Either way, God is faithful.

There are many reasons for this, but here is one reason God raises up good teachers even in a time of abandonment.

I find it in Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 2-3 God is raising up Ezekiel and calling him top prophesy. However the task would be hard, as it was for Isaiah. God told Ezekiel in Ezekiel 3:7,

"But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart."

So why does God go through all that if He knows they will not listen, or even as in Isaiah, He has already turned them over to blindness and dullness?

"And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them." (Ezekiel 2:5)

On the Day, no one will be able to say 'But, but, You didn't tell us!' They will know that He sent a prophet to be among them.

Even more glorious,

HE DOES THIS FOR THE SAKE OF HIS NAME!

As God said in Ezekiel 2, whether they hear or refuse to hear, they will know a prophet has been among them. You see, He not only sends prophets and teachers for our edification, but He does so on account of His OWN Holy name- so that they will be without excuse. He magnifies His holy name by being the living embodiment of faithfulness, holiness, and justice.

Read Acts and be stunned and overwhelmed by the number of times they mention THE NAME. Why? Because the overwhelming theme running through the entire book becomes clear when reading, it is all about THE NAME. Thirty times I read a verse where it was all about His name- the name, in His name, for the name; in verse 19:13 they even tried to co-opt His name. The acts of the apostles were to spread the good news that salvation is now here under the name of Jesus. Everything they said, did, and accomplished was for that purpose and empowered by that name.

In Acts 4:17 the aggravated Sanhedrin asked Peter and John about a man they'd healed. They asked, "By what power or what name did you do this?" 

No matter that we are in apostate times and growing worse each day. Take heart! He raises up men to preach His word! Even in the Tribulation when He has removed the Holy Spirit from His restraining ministry, He will send 144,000 to preach the word, (Revelation 7:1-4, Revelation 14:1-5) and He will send His angels to preach the Gospel to the whole world (Revelation 14:6). This is for the sake of His name.

What a comfort to know that He magnifies His own name. He is faithful to Himself and therefore will never falter. He will never fail.

Look at the fruit He bears for His name:

"After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)

The LORD is mighty and He raises up men to speak His truths, He sends His spirit to regenerate new believers, He magnifies His holy name from heaven and throughout the earth. And we are a part of that. (Ephesians 1:4). We have His name, being adopted into the family of God.

"Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name." (1 Peter 4:16)

Did you know that on the television show on cable channel A&E called Duck Dynasty, the family prays at the end of each episode over the family supper table. They also mention God in some in the middle of some of the shows, too. When it comes time for the prayer at the end, they begin the prayer to Heavenly Father of Good Father or just Father. They pray in Jesus name at the end, or they mention Jesus. Father and God are rarely edited out. Jesus is always edited out. Only two times did you hear the name of Jesus on the show. God is a powerful name and so is Father but it is the name of JESUS that sends the non-believer into a frenzy. Friends, mention the name of Jesus whenever you can.

So never fear. He raises up good men to preach, This magnifies His name. If we are in His name, we can magnify Him. "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death."

He will not abandon us because He will not abandon His name. Magnify Him, trust Him, honor Him. His name, Jesus. THE NAME. There is no other.

"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”" (Acts 4:12)

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1 comment:

  1. Oh, I'd love to use that Jesus graphic for my facebook wallpaper......but maybe that would be disrespectful

    ReplyDelete

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