More Than A Name

In fantasy from time to time there are characters empowered by their “real” name. Perhaps they need to go on a quest to discover that name or perhaps the one who know it holds magical powers over the person. At any rate, the name is more than just a name.

In a similar way, calling Jesus Christ “Lord” is more than giving Him a particular name or title. Peter says in his first letter “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts” (1 Peter 3:15a). In this context I believe “sanctify” refers to the second meaning of the word listed in the Oxford English Dictionary: “make legitimate or binding.” Some synonyms would be “permit, allow, authorize, legitimize.”

I particularly like the last two because Peter’s command seems so proactive, as if this is something each Christian must do.

Interestingly, and in stark contrast, Jesus tells a group of people following Him that at the judgment there will be people calling Him Lord, Lord, and He’ll say, “I never knew you.”

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ ” (Matt 7:21-23)

How can this be? Doesn’t Paul say in 1 Corinthians something different?

Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:3)

In context, what Paul said reinforces what Jesus said. Jesus was pointing out that some people will know who He is and will even identify with Him and claim they are working for Him, but they are not obeying Him.

Paul, in his letter, discussed the work of the Holy Spirit, including the quality of love that is the “more excellent way,” and which just happens to be the command Jesus gave His disciples:
“This I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17).

Unfortunately, there are many false teachers who distort the truth about Jesus.

Some, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will call Him the Son of God and even God, but they’ll define those terms in ways that undermine Christ’s true nature. Others who believe they are supposed to hold His feet to the fire of His own promises, order Him around as if He had come to serve them, not as if He is their Lord. Another group believes Jesus is a good example because He was so loving, because He overcame His “dark side.” They miss His deity.

These and other false ideas about who Jesus is affect what a person means by saying He is Lord. It reminds me of the people of Israel calling the golden calf they made by God’s holy name. They could say, Here is your God all they wanted, but their words did not make that idol God.

So too with Jesus. Calling Him Lord takes on meaning only if we know who He is and sanctify Him as Lord in our hearts.

Published in: on November 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm  Comments Off on More Than A Name  
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