What’s In a Name?

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.”

Ephesians 3:14-15

The following is a summary of my sermon:

My first name is Dean. It means leader. It fits my character because as a pastor I am a leader. And there is so much more about our human names that I would like to share, but for the sake of time… What will God do to my name, to give me a new name? Like Abram whose name was changed to Abraham. Or Sarai his wife, whose name was changed to Sarah. Or Jacob whose name was changed to Israel. A new name designates a change in stature. A new and a better status.

Sometimes I wonder if different people might think that if they were to follow Jesus that they might lose their own identity? Could that be what holds some people back? In my own experience, I have discovered just the opposite is true. If you accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, you also will discover the person whom the Creator God meant you to be. You will discover a better destiny for yourself than if you were to go it alone. And you will discover something about your name, perhaps even a better idea of the new name which He will give to you.

God’s original intention for human beings (before sin) will be restored, what the Apostle Paul calls “the mystery of His will”. (See Ephesians chapters 1-3 for this is the main place from where I unpack my thoughts for this sermon.) This has been a great mystery to the whole world. Because the world never thought of God like this. That He would be a forgiving God. A loving God. All the false religions of the world have usually thought of God as vindictive and looking for an excuse to condemn us. But the Bible teaches just the opposite. That God has provided the most magnificent opportunity in what Jesus has done, that all sinners might be saved. And He hopes that all people might come to know Him as He really is.

Therefore, through the work of Jesus He has made known the great mystery of His will. Because it was the Father’s will to choose us and adopt us as sons to Himself. How? By Jesus Christ! The Bible says this is even according to His good pleasure. A pleasure that He purposed in Himself. Because His purpose could have been achieved no other way. What is His good pleasure? It is simply this. That God has provided a way to gather together all things to Himself. All things includes what? The things in heaven and the things on earth. All things! Through the blood of Jesus, and only through Jesus we have redemption. So that if we confess our sins, they are forgiven.

And this is called the glory of His grace, for He intends to give us His Name. 

You see, the work that Jesus did on earth, when He became human and lived as a man, without sin, and suffered and was tortured at the hands of sinners, and was crucified on the cross of Calvary… the work that Jesus did on earth has earned Him a Name. In fact the Bible calls it, “the Name above all names.” Philippians 2:9.

What did Jesus have to do to get this great Name? Because He was already equal with God the Father. He was already the Ruler in heaven. But God chose to give sinful human beings mercy. And in order for God to reclaim this planet that was conquered by Satan and lost in sin, I suppose He had some choices. He could have chosen to wipe out Satan and wipe out humanity together. Then He could remake this world again and settle it with more deserving created beings who may be residing elsewhere in His great Universe. God could have done something like that.

But God made another choice, a much more difficult choice. The Father and the Son of God chose to try to save man. This would involve sacrifice. Jesus would choose to become our Savior and pay the penalty for human sin. To do this, Jesus would have to become human. Yes it is a great mystery. But it is also what God did. Philippians chapter 2 helps us learn what was in the mind of God (2:5–11). For Jesus did not consider it robbery to step away from His equality with the Father, “but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

And that is how Jesus got this great Name. Even a new Name. For God Himself became our Savior. Jesus became the Savior for a world lost in sin.

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.” And now because of this, one day soon, “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” And this will bring glory to God the Father, because it is God’s purpose to bring all things together into one, and under One Name. Even the Name of Jesus.

Last Sabbath I spoke about the Seal of God. Revelation 7 speaks of the sealing of the 144,000.  12,000 from each tribe of the 12 tribes of Israel. This term is a metaphor for God’s saints in the time of the end. That is the final group of saints who will be alive and remain to see the coming of the Lord Jesus in Glory. And Verse 9 speaks of a “great multitude which no one could number.” Perhaps the great multitude is also a metaphor for the end time saints. Or, perhaps the great multitude is a larger sphere, the redeemed all through time. Certainly, this is spiritual Israel, and not the literal biological descendants of Abraham, though even they have the same opportunity as anyone else to be included in the number. For the Apostle Paul affirms, that “Not all Israel are of Israel. And he is a Jew who is one inwardly.” Meaning that when we come to Jesus and believe in Him, we become members of His body, children of Abraham according to the promise, and therefore spiritual Israel. And I think that God looks at us altogether as “literal Israel.”Because the Lord is the One who says what is, and He defines His terms for us in the scriptures for our benefit.

Now Revelation 7:3 says they are sealed “on their foreheads.” And Revelation 14:1 reveals this same group are seen standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, “having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.” Therefore, having the seal of God here means that they most certainly have the Father’s Name. And this Name is in their minds and hearts. They are of one accord with Jesus and the Father, and with one another. And they have no deceit in them. No guile. For they have been cleansed of their sins. And they are found with the character of God reproduced in them. 

Now to have the name of God, is to have the character of God. For His name represents His character. Who He Is! And this is also true of His saints. For He had determined ahead of time, by virtue of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ which was shed on Calvary’s cross “once for all,” for all who believe, for all who come to Him to be saved, to give unto each saint, “a new name.” Revelation 2:17 reveals a promise given to the overcomer during the period known as the church of Pergamos: “And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” 

Add to that this promise to the overcomers during the period known as the church of Philadelphia: “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” Revelation 3:12.

What is this new name? Must be a name of character. Even the very character of Jesus.  For we must grow “from faith to faith.” Romans 1:16-17. From glory to glory. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18. We are being transformed into His image. Think about this. This is huge. How does this happen? This transformation? By the work of the Spirit of the Lord. Can you deny Him this opportunity? Sure you have a choice. But if you cooperate with Him, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, then you will be transformed. And you will have a new name which no one else knows except you. And yet, everyone will know your name. I unpack that more in the sermon. But for now, consider the fact that each saint will have His own name, which name is a testimony of your individuality, your character. A character that is uniquely your own. Yet a character that is found in Christ, formed and formatted into His image. 

Jesus died to give you a name, a name that is uniquely your own, a name that reveals who you are, and yet, a name that proves your identity as a child of God.

Dean Read,
From my sermon, “What’s In A Name?” preached on April 22, 2023, and now written in this blog dated April 25, 2023.

Published by Dean C. Read

I am a follower of Jesus Christ who seeks to make Him known to those who do not yet know Him, and to make Him better known to those who do. Thus, God has led me throughout my life of now over 6 decades. I have been married to and in love with the same woman for over 38 years and we have children and grandchildren whom I also love. That does not mean my family has not been through trials. We human beings certainly know how to test and even hurt those we love. But, God Himself also knows the challenges, the trials and even the fickleness of human love. Yet, Jesus has demonstrated that God's love is sure and secure, faithful to the very end. So, yes, I love because God is love. And, I seek to make the love of God known as it should be. I am a pastor, a preacher and a teacher of God's word, the Bible. Before I became a preacher, I was a public school teacher, and before that I worked at various jobs including, painting, construction, ambulance EMT, parts assembler, and even a paperboy back in the day. In school I played trumpet in the band, was a track and cross country runner, enjoyed most subjects including History, English and Science, and yet, after graduating from high school, I struggled to find my path. Perhaps you can identify? I did not graduate with my Bachelor's degree until I was 26 years old. And yet, from an early age I knew that God was a God of love, and that He had a plan for me, if I would just be open to His leading. God has brought me through many trials, and has always been there to pick me up when I had fallen or been discouraged. And now, I hope to write in such a way to attract others to this God of love. By the way, I also enjoy camping, reading and outdoor activities, especially strolls on the beach, or hiking a mountain trail. My favorite places on earth are Sequoia National Park because of the Giant Sequoia trees, Yosemite National Park, and the jewel of Georgia known as Jekyll Island. I could tell you more; but hopefully, as you read my posts you will learn more about the God whom I love.

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