by C. Parker Thomas

(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the January-February 1965 issue of the “Midnight Cry Messenger.”)

What does it mean? It is not a gimmick or rabbit’s foot that anyone can use to obtain the blessings of God, nor a magic formula to be repeated when we desire something from God.

Many who make much of Jesus’ name actually have a sectarian spirit and reject those who come in the name of the Lord. And they would also be the first to reject the Lord himself if he came again in the flesh.

Coming in the name of the Lord or doing things in the name of Jesus, or the Lord Jesus Christ simply means “by the authority of Jesus Christ.” It means this one coming or performing in the name of Jesus Christ is not doing it of himself. It means simply the messenger is sent of God. His deed, act or word is motivated by the Spirit of God.

Jesus said he came in his Father’s name and the works he did were in his Father’s name. John 5:43, 10:25. Yet, he never once used it as a formula when he performed some miracle or deed. He would simply say, “be thou made whole,” “arise, take up thy bed and walk” or “stretch forth thy hand.” Never once did he say “in my Father’s name.”

There is no hocus-pocus or magic use of any name or arrangement of names or titles that will do any good if the power and authority is not there. Likewise, if the power and authority is there, the work will be done with or without the use of any particular arrangement of names or formulas.

However, in all things, the one with the power and authority to perform the work or speak the word will constantly give the Lord the glory and make it known that it is by and through him the works are being done. This, of course, will be in his name or by the authority of the Lord by whom the messenger is sent.

The wrangle over the baptismal formula is not nearly so important as the motivating spirit behind it. I fear most of the people who have been baptized using either formula have not really become a part of Christ’s body at all. In fact, some have partaken of the narrow sectarian spirit of the group they were baptized into.

However, Christ is the head of the church. All power and authority was given to him of the Father. Phil. 2:9-11 says, “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 under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Acts 4:12 says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

These things, plus the fact that he is the head of the church, are the reason the apostles and the early church did things by the authority of or in his name. When we perform a duty or represent another, we are actually doing it in their name.

No doubt this is why Paul said in Colossians 3:17, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” While Jesus was here in the flesh, he represented his Father; consequently, he did all things in the Father’s name. Now, since the Father has delivered all things into the hands of the Son, highly exalting and making him head over all things to the church, we, his representatives, now use his name.

Never doubt, the Father is pleased and the Holy Ghost bears witness when we honor the name of his only begotten son. All things, officially beginning with the church dispensation, should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of the church. The apostles understood this and started the church off right by saying, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38.

Who has the right to use the name of the Lord Jesus Christ? His body, the church, only has a legal right to use his name. Only those in whom he lives by the Spirit are a part of that body. As the woman who joins a man in holy wedlock takes his name, so do members of Christ’s body (the church) when they are joined to him by the Spirit.

But even as a married woman must honor and not abuse the liberty of the use of her husband’s name, so must members of Christ’s body. Only under the direction of and in harmony with the head (the Lord or the husband) does the church or the wife have liberty to use the name. We don’t just take this honor of ourselves. We have to be chosen of the Lord.

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16

May I also hasten to add that individual ministries can only use his name as they minister in their calling for the good of his body, the church. They themselves are members of his body, which alone has the right to his name.

All religious movements that honor themselves in glorying in their organization, their traditions, their heritage, their successes, their doctrines, their name and give honor to man are a part of “Mystery Babylon The Great.” This woman, though made up of many divisions, is one in spirit and that is the spirit of anti-Christ. It will be noted from Rev. 17:3 that she has many “names of blasphemy.” The reason the many names are blasphemy is because they all claim to be his church and have his name.

Out of all this must come the true church (his body) which is but a remnant. They are one and they alone have a right to use his name. This is the church Paul is speaking of in Eph. 4:4-6: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

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