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Author:Rev. Reuben Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Mt. Nasura
 Mt. Nasura, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/mountnasura/
 
Title:The Name which is above Every Name
Text:LD 11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God The Son
 
Preached:2020
Added:2020-05-17
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps 96:1,2,4                                                                                         

Hy 2:1,2,3

Reading – Matthew 1:18-25; Acts 4:1-12; Philippians 2:5-11

Ps 61:1,2,3

Sermon – Lord’s Day 11

Hy 39:1,2,5

Hy 23:1,2,5,6

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Brothers and sisters, you probably know that in the Bible, our Saviour is known by quite a few different names—some say well into the hundreds. Just a couple examples: He is called Immanuel, “God with us,” for through him we come into the presence of God. And He is the Alpha and the Omega, for He is source and purpose all things in the universe. The names of our Saviour are precious gifts. In them, we find strength, hope and comfort.

Among the many names of the Son of God, Jesus might be the simplest. Some have called it his personal name, like you and I have personal names, whether Derek or Rachel or something else. The name Jesus isn’t a title, like He is called King. Nor is it a job description, like He’s known as the Good Shepherd. Yet Jesus is much more than a personal name, a convenient label. The name Jesus means something most important about why He came to earth.

In Scripture, that is so often the case, that names are loaded with meaning—especially when it comes to the names of God. For God’s names reveal his character and ability and purpose. And that’s also true for the seemingly simple and straightforward name Jesus. In Lord’s Day 11, we see that God gives this name to his Son, born in the flesh. And the name Jesus declares what God will do through his only Son: through him God will save his people! This makes the name of our Saviour a glorious name, the name that must be on our lips and in our hearts. I preach God’s Word to you on this theme,

 

Jesus is the Name which is above every name:

  1. Jesus is a unique name
  2. Jesus is the only way
  3. Jesus is our complete salvation

 

1) Jesus is a unique name: The heading above Lord’s Day 11 tells us that we’re now busy learning about “God the Son and our Redemption.” You may remember from Catechism class that this is the longest section of the Apostles’ Creed. We were finished with God the Father in only two Lord’s Days, and we’ll deal with the Holy Spirit in just three Lord’s Days, but on God the Son we spend a total of nine Lord’s Days. This is for a good reason, for Jesus Christ is the beating heart of our faith. His death and resurrection are the sure foundation for our new life!  

And beginning this section, the Catechism doesn’t leave us in suspense. Though we’ll be busy with God the Son for several pages, the simple truth of the gospel is stated up front in Answer 29, in kernel form: the Son of God saves us from all our sins! This is the central truth to be explained and filled out in the coming Lord’s Days in all of its beauty.

But today we begin simply: What is the name of the Son of God, and why does he have this name? Looking at this Lord’s Day, you’ll notice that the Catechism seems to give the answer away already in the question, “Why is the Son of God called Jesus, that is, Saviour?” Did they want to make it easy on all those Catechism students by including the answer so obviously in the question? It’s not that. Jesus means Saviour, but there’s more to say.

Literally, the name Jesus means, “The LORD saves.” It’s a Greek name, but it has an equivalent in the Hebrew name Joshua—sort of like how John is the English equivalent of the Dutch Jan. Jesus and Joshua: this connection alerts us to the fact that Jesus is not an uncommon name. In the Old Testament, we see that the name Joshua is given to several different persons over Israel’s history.

And even in the New Testament, the Greek name Jesus refers to persons other than the Son of God. There’s a couple of examples. Think of Paul’s co-worker “Jesus” (or Justus) who is mentioned in Colossians 4:11, or there’s the false prophet named Bar-Jesus in Acts 13:6. 

It was a common name. But when humans give names, it means very little for what a child will do with the rest of his life. When God gives a name, however, this makes the name perfectly accurate. For example, when Abram was renamed to Abraham, it meant that he really was going to become the father of many nations. Likewise, when God gives the name Jesus, this reflects the beautiful reality that through this Jesus, the LORD really is going to save!

This brings us back to when Christ was conceived in the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. At that time, the angel of the LORD appeared to Joseph and he instructed him to give the child the name Jesus. Again, keep in mind that this wasn’t a remarkable name for people to have, but a normal name, like Ethan today, or Lauren. Nothing extraordinary, except for the earth-shaking reason that the angel then gives to Joseph: “For he will save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). He will be a Saviour!

Another person who once had this name, Joshua the son of Nun, was also an instrument in God’s hand to deliver his people. Remember how Joshua brought the people into the Promised Land and delivered Israel from the Canaanites. In a certain sense, he was a saviour too. But the Joshua—the Jesus—who is born of Mary is someone far more notable. He’ll deliver his people from nothing less than the everlasting burden of sin!

So when the day comes that Joseph and Mary give the God-appointed name to their new infant, they already know He’s a unique person with a special place in God’s plan. And it’d be hard not to be swept up in their excitement as new parents: “What a beautiful task to be given to their child! To be a new Joshua, a great Redeemer!”

Yet their little son Jesus, in saving his people from sin, will end up crucified and killed. The Catechism doesn’t mention the cross here, but it’s not far off in the distance. Because it’s only through the way of suffering and death that sinners are saved. As Paul says of Jesus, “He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:8). It’s the cross which makes the name Jesus the name above every other!

And Jesus is uniquely qualified to save us, for He is both God and man. He claimed that He was God, and He showed it too. For He was worshiped, and He didn’t object. He forgave people their sins and raised them from the dead. He even said that his name was “I AM,” just like the name of the LORD God. He claimed to be God, and Jesus backed up his claim by calming the seas, opening blind eyes, and casting out demons.

Jesus is perfectly qualified to save us because He’s also a man, one who came “in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:7). His humanity was on display in being born of Mary, and circumcised on the eighth day, and in his growth in wisdom and stature. As a man, He dealt with all the weaknesses of our condition, like being tired, hungry, and thirsty, or being subject to anxiety and temptation. Yet He failed not once in his duty toward God or his neighbor. So as a true man, as a righteous man, He could die for sinners. Says 1 Timothy 2:5, “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.”

With good reason the Catechism says that Jesus is “a complete Saviour” (Q&A 30). He’s got all the credentials, He’s fully certified to rescue us from death and bring us back to God. Jesus makes us children of the Father, partakers of the divine Spirit, and citizens of heaven. He gives us true happiness, the blessedness of being saved from our sins and being bound for glory. In Jesus, God saves. His exalted name proclaims the great work He came to do. His glorious name announces redemption in every letter.

And so let us cling to the name of Jesus in true faith, beloved! Think of the great privilege we have when we use this name, like in our prayers or in our worship. Whenever we ask with faith in Jesus’ name, God will hear and answer us. So use his name—use it gladly, use it freely: “Jesus, have mercy. Lord Jesus, please help me. God, please save me, for Jesus’ sake. Come Lord Jesus, Maranatha.” The unique name of our Saviour means God can give us all that we need.

 

2) Jesus is the only way: So far we’ve looked especially at the first part of Answer 29, the first because. He is called Jesus “Because He saves us from all our sins.” But notice that there’s a second because. He is called Jesus, “…because salvation is not be sought or found in anyone else.” It is affirming that the name Jesus is totally exclusive. Essentially, the angel says to Joseph, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he alone will save his people from sins.”

The second question in this Lord’s Day underlines that Jesus is the only way. And here too, we might say the answer is obvious in the question: “Do those who seek their salvation or well-being in saints, themselves, or anywhere else, also believe in the only Saviour Jesus?” (Q&A 30). Seems obvious. If Jesus is the only Saviour, then of course those who seek their salvation elsewhere do NOT believe in him!

But the Catechism is being explicit for a reason. It wants to make clear there is no half-way position possible. Either Jesus is a complete Saviour, or He is not. And our response will be similarly black-and-white: Either we find in Jesus all that we need, or we do not, and we need to look elsewhere!

In Acts 4, Peter preaches this truth in a sermon to the Sanhedrin. He explains what’s happening as this new movement sweeps Jerusalem and converts thousands. See how the rulers ask him, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” (v 7). They know there’s something—there’s someone—behind all this upheaval. And the climax of Peter’s sermon is this very point: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (v 12).

It’s the last thing Peter says in his address, it’s the conclusive declaration: salvation is in Jesus, or there is no salvation at all! He who was crucified, the stone the builders rejected, is now the capstone. This common man with a common name is the centre and pinnacle of God’s salvation work. Many Jews were resisting this message, but Peter is emphatic: “There is no other name.”

In that verse, notice it’s the name that Peter emphasizes. Jesus doesn’t give us a method to follow on our way to self-improvement, or a formula to recite to make all our troubles go away. Salvation is only by faith in the name of Jesus. We trust in him—who He is and what He has done—as the only ground of our salvation!

Despite Peter’s words, many continued to reject the name of Jesus. Still today, many scorn the name of Jesus. Some people simply do not see their sin, and their urgent and desperate need for deliverance. A surprising number of people still say, “I believe that at heart, deep down, people are really good.” And if mankind is good, then we need no Saviour.

Others see the immense misery of the world and the ruin of their lives, but they become hopeless. How can there be a saviour who is great enough to deal with all this! Who could ever put right everything that has gone wrong in this world?

And some think that this life can have purpose through our personal efforts, through living a virtuous life, maybe by spreading good karma. And if you can save yourself, and create your own meaning and identity, why would you need Jesus?

Dependence on self is as old as mankind. This was the attraction of Satan’s lies to Adam and Eve, that if they ate of the fruit, they would be like God! They liked the thought of self-sufficiency and autonomy. It was still an attractive notion for the apostle Paul; remember how he admitted that he had every reason for confidence in the flesh, for his whole life he had done everything right before the Lord. And it remains attractive today, for we prefer not to depend on someone else for our security and well-being.

Easily, but often unknowingly, we fall into self-dependence. It’s like the little child who insists on tying his own shoelaces, even though his shoes are on the wrong feet and his attempt at a knot is a jumbled ball of string: “I can do it myself!” By nature, we resist help from outside or above. So while we say that we do believe in the crucified and risen Jesus, and in him alone, there can be subtle deception: that the things we do somehow contribute to our salvation, that all these good things somehow must make us a little more pleasing to God.

We may think of it as something like making a deal with God. “If I do all these good things, then God owes me. I’ll be busy every day with what’s expected of me: doing devotions, raising covenant children, attending consistory, volunteering in the community, give away money, or being a moral person. If I do all this, how could God not bless me? I keep up my side of the deal, and He’ll keep up his.” There’s always a temptation to become even a little comfortable and self-secure in our own efforts and good works.

So we should read this Lord’s Day in self-examination. Don’t think of Roman Catholics or Arminians in the first place, but reflect on your own life. Think about these words, “Though they boast of him in words, they in fact deny the only Saviour Jesus” (Q&A 30). Sounds harsh, yet it’s a real danger. The name of Jesus is often on our lips. We may even boast of him, and say that He’s our church’s one foundation. But do we truly rely on grace alone through Jesus Christ?

You’ve probably heard of the Reformation solas. These are Latin phrases which the Reformers used to emphasize the key teachings of Scripture. They spoke of sola gratia (by grace alone), and sola fide (by faith alone). But together with these, there was another sola that they often declared: sola Christi! In Christ alone.

They repeated it often because they were fighting the Roman Catholic way of salvation through Mary and the saints, or salvation through meritorious good works. But the Reformers repeated it often because they knew how all of us will try to supplement God’s work of salvation. Humans will always be the immature child, wanting to do what we have no hope of doing properly. But salvation can only be Sola Christi! By Christ alone.

As Jesus says in John 15, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (v 5). Confessing the name of Jesus means we cannot save ourselves, and cannot find our own way to life. He is the only way to salvation. There is not a second way, there is not a way in combination, there is not a better way—but there is a way! In Christ alone we have full salvation!

 

3) Jesus is our complete salvation: Have you ever pondered what would’ve happened if Jesus had failed in any way? What if He’d given in, just once, to temptation? Say one day He got overly frustrated with his disciples and snapped at them, or He prayed to God one night, but his heart wasn’t into it, and He just repeated some empty phrases—what then?

If Jesus’ merit was incomplete, then God’s plan of salvation would’ve failed, and our sins would be left on our own account. Yes, if Jesus had failed in any way, then we would be expected to look to saints, or look to ourselves, or look to some other place. And we already know how futile that kind of search would be.

Yet in Jesus we have all that we need! The Scriptures, and so also the Catechism, make it perfectly clear Jesus did perform his saving work to the fullest extent. He became “obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:8). He did absolutely everything that was asked of him in order to be the Saviour of sinners.

And so Paul writes in Colossians 2:10, “You are complete in him.” There is nothing deficient in Jesus or in his work, and Christians lack nothing in him. Or listen to what Hebrews 7:25 says about Jesus as the eternal high priest, “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him.” He is able to save us completely, save us fully!

The Catechism reflects this complete salvation with a three-letter word that it repeats twice. It’s a small word but immensely comforting: “He saves us from ALL our sins” (Q&A 29). “[We] must find in him ALL that is necessary for salvation” (Q&A 30). All that is necessary. Our trust, our love, and our worship can be reserved for him alone.

As we confess in Article 21 of the Belgic Confession, “Therefore we justly say with Paul, that we know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified. We count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus our Lord. We find comfort in his wounds and have no need to seek or invent any other means of reconciliation with God than this only sacrifice, once offered, by which believers are perfected for all times.” Pretty absolute, isn’t it? We know nothing but Christ and him crucified. We count everything as loss next to him. We have no need for any other means.

After listening to all this, do any of us think that we’re good at heart? Perhaps not. We know full well that we are sinners, completely deserving of death.

Or do any of us depend on ourselves for salvation, even a bit? Maybe we don’t. Deep down we all know we cannot do it.

Do any of us doubt that Jesus can save, or think that his sacrifice long ago was not enough? Hardly. We are certain that the Scriptures are God’s Word, that what they say about Christ is true. We are complete in him!

But do we think, and do we live, as if we really believe this? Together with the theology that we confess goes the theology that we live. In fact, our confession of faith is worthless if we don’t live it out from day to day.

So after learning about our great and gracious Saviour, what must we do? What remains is our response. The Catechism is razor-sharp about our responsibility: “Those who by true faith accept this Saviour must find in him all that is necessary for their salvation” (Q&A 30).

There’s actually two parts to that, closely related: First, accept this Saviour! Believe in him. Acknowledge what He has done for you. And second, find in Christ all that you need! “All that is necessary.” Yes, for our lives what is really necessary? Perhaps we crave security. We like a sense of fulfillment. We hope for a purpose. But more than anything, we need peace—peace with God. And it can only be in Jesus Christ. It needs only to be in him, because He is big enough, strong enough, gracious enough as our mighty God and faithful Saviour!

So do we live out this theology? Do we live like we’re miserable sinners who deserved eternal pain but who got unlimited grace? Do we daily bow before God’s throne and plead on his mercy in Jesus, because we know that He’s all that we need? And do we then live in the same mercy toward other people, showing patience, grace, and forgiveness like our Saviour?

Let at the name of Jesus every knee bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! Confess and trust and glorify the Name which is above every name: Jesus our Saviour!  Amen. 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Reuben Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2020, Rev. Reuben Bredenhof

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