THE SAVING NAME
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-24-77 7:30 p.m.
It is a joy to welcome you, a vast host of you, who are listening to the service on the great radio of the Southwest, KRLD; and upon the FM band KCBI—the first one on the band. We have a great group in this auditorium tonight, this sanctuary of the Lord. It is hard for us to realize that there will be a hundred or a thousand times as many people listening to the service on KRLD and KCBI. And if you would turn in the Bible with us to Acts chapter 4, we would encourage you to read the passage out loud with us; the fourth chapter of the Book of Acts, chapter 4; and we are going to begin reading at verse 7 and read through verse 12. It says: “When they set them in the midst,” that’s verse 7 [Acts 4:7], that speaks of Peter and John, preachers of the gospel of Christ, who are set in the midst of the Sanhedrin; seventy counselors with the high priest presiding over them who stands in the middle.
Now beginning at verse 7 and reading through verse 12, all of us out loud together:
And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
Be it known unto you all, and to all of the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole.
This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Now when I look through the passage, will you notice, this use of the word “name.” “When they set them in the midst,” in verse 7, “they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” [Acts 4:7]. And then again in verse 10:
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ, whom ye crucified, even by Him, whom God raised from the dead, doth this man stand here before you whole.
Now look again in verse 12:
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
And the title of the message is The Saving Name. Several times and through several weeks now, some of the people have come to me, saying, “When you cite a passage in the Scripture, most of the times you just say it is in a book. Most of the times, other, you say it is just in a chapter. If you will name the chapter and the verse where we can find it, we’ll follow you in it.”
So I’m going to try tonight and see how you fare. When we go through the message, I’m going to cite the exact chapter and the exact verse, and I am going to see how many of you turn to it, as we follow through the message tonight. Now, this word “name”—the use of that word “name”—it is very prominent in this passage, as we have just seen. “Neither is there salvation in any other name: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” [Acts 4:12].
Does Peter refer to a collocation of sounds and syllables in the name Jesus Christ when he uses that nomenclature? No, not at all. For he is speaking to Jewish hearers who have been most conversant all of the days of their lives, with the identification of God with the word “name.” For example, in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Exodus the Lord gives the Ten Commandments, and commandment number three is this: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for God will not hold him guiltless who taketh His name in vain” [Exodus 20:7].
It is easy to see that the word “name” is identified with God Himself. So much so, that one of the most astonishing, ecclesiastical developments that I know of in religion is this: that the Old Testament name for God is lost. No man, anywhere in the earth, for thousands of years, has ever been able to know the pronunciation of the name of God.
Take the word Jehovah. What they did in the American translation, and using that word Jehovah for the name of God, they took the four consonants of God’s name and added to it the vowel pointing of the word Adonai, which is the word for Lord. And when you take the four consonants of God’s name—the nearest you can come to it would be to say “Yahweh.” When you take those four consonants and add to it the vowel pointing of the word Lord, Adonai, it comes out “Jehovah.” So, the American translation used the word Jehovah for the name of God. But nobody knows what the name of God was. It was so sacred, and was looked upon in the holy page of the Hebrew Bible with such reverential awe, that they never pronounced it. So the pronunciation was lost, and we have no idea how the name of God was pronounced. What they did was, instead of using the name of God, Yahweh, or whatever it was, they just used the name “name.” They used the noun, the substantive, name. And the word “name” came to stand for all that God is.
For example, in the epistle of 3 John and verse 7, the apostle writes: “For the sake of the name, these missionaries went forth. For the sake of the name,” talking about the Lord Jesus, “For the sake of the name, they went forth” [3 John 1:7]. What does he mean, “for the sake of the name”? He means by that substantive name—all, that Christ is. The whole office work of our Lord, the personality and being of God in Himself, all that God is, is meant by that substantive name. The incarnation of our Lord [Matthew 1:20-25], the life and ministry of our Lord [Acts 10:38], the atoning death of our Lord [Matthew 27:32-50], the burial and resurrection of our Lord [Matthew 27:57-28:7], the ascension of our Lord [Acts 1:9-10], and His session at the right hand of our God on high [Hebrews 12:2], His promised coming again [John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-10], all that Christ is, is summed up in the use of that substantive name. “For the sake of the name, they went forth” [3 John 1:7].
Now that’s the way it is used here when he says:
By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth does this man stand before you whole. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved
[Acts 4:10, 12].
That is, everything that God is, is given to us for our healing, for our forgiveness, for our blessing, for our salvation.
Now, you will see that wonderfully illustrated in the second chapter of the Book of Philippians, in one of the greatest, theological, doctrinal statements to be found in all the Bible and in all ecclesiastical literature. Now you look how he speaks of the name of our Lord. In the second chapter of the Book of Philippians, beginning at verse 6, he describes the deity of the Lord [Philippians 2:6]. Then in verse 7, he describes the incarnation of our Lord, coming down in human flesh [Philippians 2:7]—humble and obedient unto the death of the cross [Philippians 2:8].
Now we begin at verse 9:
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things in the abyss, under the earth, in the netherworld; And that every tongue should confess that He, Jesus Christ, is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What a magnificent revelation! “God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow” [Philippians 2:9-10]. Oh, would to God they would do it now!
Someday, every infidel, and every atheist, and every unbeliever, and every communist, and every God-hater, and every enemy of the Lord will bow in the presence of the Son of God. Would they do it now! You can see that partly in the wonderful exaltation of the name of Christ in poetry and in song. That at the name of Jesus, God hath given Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus, all someday shall bow [Philippians 2:9-10].
Now I have chosen just a few, and these are just a few out of thousands that I could have chosen. Listen to this beautiful poetry, marvelous tribute to Jesus our Lord:
I know a soul that is steeped in sin
That no man’s art can cure;
But I know a name, a name, a name,
That can make that soul all pure.
I know a life that is lost to God,
Bowed down by things of earth;
But I know a name, a name, a name
That can give that soul new birth.
I know of lands that are sunk in shame,
Of hearts that faint and tire;
But I know a name, a name, a name,
That can set those lands on fire.
[“Tis Jesus,” J Wilber Chapman, 1909]
Or look again. What did you sing a while ago?
Down at the cross where my Savior died
Down where for cleansing from sin I cried.
There to my heart was the blood applied.
Oh, glory to His name!
I am so wondrously saved from sin
Jesus so sweetly abides within
There at the cross where He took me in
Glory to His name!
Come to this fountain so rich and sweet
Cast thy poor soul at the Savior’s feet.
Plunge in today and be made complete.
Glory, glory to His name!
[“Glory to His Name,” Elisha A. Hoffman, 1878]
Isn’t that a beautiful song? Look again:
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
Dear name, the Rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding place,
My never-failing treasure, filled
With boundless stores of grace!
[“How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds,” John Newton, 1789]
Or think again, the beautiful hymn:
Take the name of Jesus with you,
Child of sorrow and of care.
It will joy and comfort give you;
Take it then where e’er you go.
Take the name of Jesus ever,
As a shield from every snare;
If temptations round you gather,
Breathe that holy name in prayer.
[“Take the Name of Jesus With You,” Lydia Odell Baxter, 1874]
Listen to this beautiful, beautiful, beautiful song:
There is no name so sweet on earth,
No name so dear in heaven,
As that before His wondrous birth
To Christ, the Savior given.
‘Twas Gabriel first that did proclaim
To His most blessed mother.
That name which now and evermore
We praise above all other.
And when He hung upon the tree,
They wrote His name above Him;
That all might see the reason we
Forever must adore Him.
[“There is No Name so Sweet on Earth,” George W. Bethune, 1858]
Or just once again:
There is a name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in my ear,
The sweetest name on earth.
[“There is a Name I Love to Hear,” Frederick Whitfield, 1855]
And you could just go on endlessly. There are thousands of songs and hymns and poems that are dedicated to the name of Jesus. Isn’t that what the blessed Book says? “Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name” [Philippians 2:9]. And someday, before that blessed name, every knee shall bow [Philippians 2:10].
Now we have come to the sermon. So we will take our Bible now, and for just a while, we are going to follow it through—the blessed name of Jesus. First of all, it is the name who will bring healing to our hearts and to our physical frames and to our weary souls. For example, in Luke chapter 10, verse 17: “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject unto us through Thy name” [Luke 10:17].
These that afflict us—and all affliction comes from Satan and his demons; even the Lord permitted Satan to afflict Job [Job 1:11-12, 2:4-7]. Our afflictions never come from the hands of God’s angels or from our blessed Savior. When Paul referred to his thorn in the flesh, he called it a messenger of Satan to afflict me [2 Corinthians 12:7]. And the seventy come and say, “Lord, even these demons that afflict us, that break our hearts, and our souls, and our physical frames, and finally slay us in death, even they are subject unto us through Thy name” [Luke 10:17], the healing name of the Lord Jesus! [Acts 3:16].
Now I want you to turn again to the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, verse 18. Here the great apostle Paul, in the name of the Lord, is going to heal a girl who has been used by her owners as a means of money, telling fortunes. “So Paul, being grieved, turned and said to that spirit of divination and witchcraft, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour” [Acts 16:18]. And of course, this wonderful verse that we have just been preaching about, “Be it known unto you”—in our text, in the fourth chapter of Acts and the tenth verse—”and to all of the people, that by the name of Jesus Christ does this man stand here before you whole” [Acts 4:10].
Any time that we have an affliction, let’s take it to Jesus. No exception to that. Let’s take it to Jesus. Now the doctor can help us; and the surgeon can operate on us; and the pharmacist can give us chemicals and medicine, but it is a trite thing and a truism for me to say, that only God can heal us [Exodus 15:26]. Always when the surgeon touched that big, ugly scar, who heals that open wound? Only God can heal it! Healing always comes from God. Always!
And when I speak of our human frame, this anatomical body, that only God can heal it, I use it but in illustration for all of the healing of our souls: take your heart to the Lord; take your soul to the Lord; take your frustrations and despairs; take your disappointments and heartaches; take your tears, as well as your gladnesses and your happinesses—take them to the Lord. And ask God in the name above every name to heal, to help, to give patience or strength or guidance or wisdom. That’s Jesus!
It is Satan’s assignment to decimate us, to cut us down, to weaken us, to
destroy us. But it is the part of the Lord to build us up, to help us, to strengthen us, to heal us. That’s the name of Jesus. It’s a healing name.
Now, turn with me once again. The name of our Lord is the name we use in prayer. We pray in His name. In Matthew chapter 18, verses 19-20—Matthew chapter 18, verses 19-20:
I say unto you, If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them” [Matthew 18:20].
I need to take another thirty minutes for that, and I don’t have the time now. That doesn’t mean that if two of you shall just ask anything—Oh, let’s you and I ask for a million dollars, and we’ll see what comes of it, or let’s just ask for this mountain to be removed and then let’s just see what comes of it—no! No! When it says that if two of you shall agree in My presence and in My name, it shall be done. That word “agree,” I haven’t time I say to expatiate on it, but it means far more than just a peripheral summary, trippingly, lightsomely saying. Now, it doesn’t say, “If two of you shall say.” It is an agreement. It is an agreement of soul. It is an agreement of heart. It’s an agreement in the will of God.
How many times do you say in reply? Somebody says, “Pray for me.” And you say, “Sure, I will pray for you.” You don’t even remember it. God forgive me the number of times I have done that. It’s just terrible. It’s just awful. And that’s the way most of us are in our agreeing to pray. Ah, the word has a far profounder meaning than that! Because if there is agreement like this Bible is speaking of, you get what you plead for—you get what you ask for. There’s power in it, praying in the name of Jesus.
Now look again. Turn to the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, John 14. I want to show you in John 14, 15, and16, how many times would the Lord emphasize that when we come before the throne of grace, we do so in His name. In His name! Now, look at John 14 and [verses] 13 and14. John 14:13-14, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” [John 14:13]. Now verse 14: “If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it” [John 14:14]. Now turn over the page to the fifteenth chapter of the Book of John, and we shall read the latter part of verse 16: “Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you” [John 15:16]. Now turn again to the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel of John and verse 23: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you” [John 16:23].
Ah, what an abounding reservoir is open to us when we come before God in the name of Jesus Christ! What do you mean, praying in the name of the Lord? If I could summarize in an hour’s discussion, it would just be simply this: I am to come as though the Lord had come, as though He were bowing before the Father, as though He were praying before the Father. What would He ask for, if He were I? If Jesus were in this body, had been incarnated in this house in which I live and in which I inhabit, if the Lord were I, what would He ask for? What would He ask for, for you? What would He ask for, for me?
What would He ask for, for mine? What would He ask for? That’s praying in the name of the Lord. And when I ask in the Spirit, and for the sake, just as though He were asking, God has promised He will give it to us. This is our open door in prayer.
Now look again. It’s in that glorious name that we are saved. Turn to John chapter 1, verses 11 and 12. John 1 verses 11 and 12: “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right”—the prerogative, the privilege, translated here the power—”to become the sons of God, even to them that believe, that trust in His name” [John 1:11-12].
This is the way that we are saved: trusting in the name of Jesus the Son of God. Turn over here to the third chapter of the Gospel of John and look at verse 18, John chapter 3 verse 18: “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in Him” [John 3:18]. He hasn’t trusted Him, he hasn’t committed himself to the name of the only begotten Son of God.
How is a man saved? By believing in the name of Jesus Christ the Son of God, and trusting in the name of the only begotten Son of God [John 3:16-18]. Look again at the close of the Gospel of John, the twentieth chapter, not the addendum, the twentieth chapter. Reading verses 30 and 31, John chapter 20, verses 30 and 31:
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book:
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.
That’s the way we are saved; trusting in the name of the Lord, and that believing ye might have life through His name.
Now turn again over here, we’ve already read that, and I’m going to preach on that next Sunday, Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other name: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
Now just one other: turn to Romans chapter 10, verse 13. “For there is no difference”—this is verse 12, in the tenth chapter of Romans:
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek:
for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Isn’t that an incomparable promise? Without condition! “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 3:10].
Do you remember the sermon last Sunday? I can sing about the Lord and be lost! I can preach about the Lord and be lost! I can write books about the Lord and be lost! I can admire the Lord and be lost! I can extol Him and be lost! But I can’t call upon the name of the Lord, and be lost! For when I ask Jesus to save me, open my heart to Him, and invite Him into my soul, something happens to me, I am saved! “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” [Romans 10:13].
Now, I must conclude. I have just a moment left. I want to point out to you that we are kept! We are kept by the name of the Lord. We’ll just take one passage: the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John, verse 11, John 17, verse 11; the Lord, in His high priestly prayer, is saying, “And now I am no more in the world,” in just a few hours He will be crucified:
I am no more in the world, but these disciples and apostles—
these are in the world, and I come to Thee, Holy Father,
keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me,
that they may be one, as We are.
And be with Me, where I am” [John 14:3], as He says in the following verse, “Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those that Thou hast given to Me” [John 17:11].
What Jesus can do for us, who have found refuge and salvation in Him! It is wonderful, the name, the name. For example, I heard of an alcoholic who had been wonderfully converted. And his old cronies did everything they could to pull him back into his drunken ways, but he’d been saved and he loved the Lord. Upon a day, his old cronies and his old drinking companions were around him and when he refused to drink, because he found the Lord, one of the men took a glass of whiskey, and to tempt him more threw it in his face. And the smell of it, being an alcoholic, and the taste of it on his lips, being an alcoholic, was a tremendous trial. You know what he did? When his old cronies, seeking to get that man to go back into his drunken ways, threw that glass of whiskey in his face, he lifted up his head, and lifted up his eyes, and lifted up his voice and said, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” Isn’t that wonderful? That’s strength! Jesus! And Jesus helped him.
Take again. I remember reading about an old cussing, volatile, infidel. What a temper he had! The reason I remember this is because right back of our house where I lived in this little town, was the town infidel. He lived back there. And the reason I remember this story so well is you could hear that infidel cuss all over the town when he milked his cow in the morning. He made an impression upon me, as a little boy; that infidel, right back of our house.
All right, this infidel who had such a violent temper, he was converted, wonderfully saved by the blessed Lord Jesus. And the people were just interested to see what kind of a life he was going to live now. Do you know how he was? Well, I’ll give you an illustration how that old infidel was; who was so volatile and high tempered, and cussed! Here’s how he was. He was out milking his cow, out milking his cow. How many of you ever milked a cow, hold up your hands? Dear me, dear me! Man, I thought this was a country church, it sure is! It sure is! Well this old infidel, who’d been converted, was out there milking that cow. Man, he’s just going at it. And like an old obstreperous, incorrigible cow sometimes does, she kicked over the bucket, and just got that milk all over that old infidel, who’d been saved. Well, the people who watched him and knew about it thought he’d cuss a “blue streak” when that happened, and beat that cow all over the lot. You what he did? He got out his handkerchief, and he unfolded his handkerchief out of his overall pocket, and he began to wipe off all of that milk all over him, and as he did so, here’s what he sang:
Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word,
Just to rest upon the promise,
Just to know, thus saith the Lord.
[“Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” Louisa M.R. Stead, 1882]
Isn’t that wonderful? That’s just glorious! That’s just marvelous! And that’s what God can do with a man’s life. He does it every day! He does it for us. It’s the sweetest thing in the world, walking in the steps of the Lord. And that’s the invitation we press upon your heart tonight. If you want to be happy, let Jesus come into your heart. If you want walk in the light of the glory of God, take Jesus as your friend and Savior. If you want to find the purpose and meaning in life, come to Him. Let Jesus be your helper, your Savior, and He will not let you down. He died for you! [1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 2:20]. It’s His blood that washes our sins away [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5]. It’s His mediation that presents us someday faultless in glory! [Jude 24, Romans 5:10]. And it’s His presence that gives us strength and hope and comfort. “I choose the Lord. I decide for Christ. Here I am, pastor.” Do it now, make it now. To come to give your heart to the Lord, to come to put your life in the fellowship of the church, to come to be with us in any way that God speaks to your soul, come now, make it now, do it now, while we stand and while we sing.
I. Use of the name
A. Peter does not mean
collection of sounds
1. His hearers
are familiar with Jewish image of the “name” (Exodus 20:7)
2. Old Testament
name for God is lost
B. “The name” came to
stand for all that God is (3 John 7)
C. The name of Christ
makes the man whole
D. The ultimate
exaltation (Philippians 2:6-11)
1. Thousands of
songs, hymns, poems dedicated to the name of Jesus
II. The power of the name
A. Power to heal (Luke
10:17, Acts 16:18, 4:10)
to pray (Matthew 18:19-20, John 14:13-14, 16, 15:16, 16:23, Acts 4:30-31)
Power to save (John 1:11-12, 3:18, 20:30-31, Acts 4:12, 10:43, Romans 10:12-13)