Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
If you listen to the language of professing Christians, a recurring phrase you will hear is "In Jesus' name," "In Christ's name," "In his name," or some other variant. I am not sure what they mean by the phrase, neither am I sure if they understand what those words really mean.
To do something or request something in Jesus' name is to act under his authority. "Have you been authorized by Jesus to act in his stead?" I have often wondered. From my perspective, I would have to conclude that the majority of people using the phrase have no authority to do so. Such authorization is more than reading certain words in scripture and claiming they apply to you.
In a similar vein, to believe in Jesus' name is to encounter his authority and to believe, to accept, and to live by that authority. The scriptures point to that authority and provide examples of people living under that authority. But you cannot hammer out a set of scripture based rules and claim to be living under Jesus' authority or to be believing in his name.
Let's look at a much loved passage from John 3.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the [authority] of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-19 RSV)
What does it mean to believe in the authority of Jesus? Where do we encounter that authority? The passage continues, making clear the answers to those questions.
And this is the judgment that the light has come into the world, and man loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. (John 3:20-21 RSV)
This is where we encounter Jesus' authority; in the light that exposes our deeds. To believe in his authority is to accept the reproof of the light of Christ Jesus, which has been given to all. To believe in his authority is to accept the correction and new direction for our life revealed in and by the light. For the light that shows us our evil also shows us how to come out of that evil.
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