Derek Thomas: What’s in a Name?

Hallowed be your name” is what Jesus taught His disciples to say in prayer (Matt. 6:9). It expresses a desire that the Father will be revered and praised and spoken about in a manner that befits His resplendent glory and dignity. After hearing God speak and seeing a bush on fire with no apparent sign of being burned up, Moses asked, “What is your name?” In reply, God first said, “I am who I am” (or “I will be what I will be”), then shortened it to “I am,” then to “the Lord” (I AM translates the Hebrew Yahweh or YHWH, known as the tetragrammaton, a Greek term meaning “four letters.” English translations used to render it as Jehovah; Ex. 3:6, 13–16). Thus, God shows himself as the One who exists, eternally and without change, who is utterly trustworthy and dependable.

God’s name is who He is. And Yahweh or YHWH acts as a synecdoche—the part representing the whole. Thus, David sang, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Ps. 8:1). And in the Third Commandment, God tells us very clearly that we are not to misuse His name: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Ex. 20:7). So seriously do the Jews fear misusing God’s name that they refuse to utter it at all. But that is more superstition than obedience; God wants us to use His name—but with respect and dignity.

THE FINE PRINT

Commandments have positive and negative things to teach us. First, let us consider the negative. The Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way: “The third commandment forbids all profaning or abusing of anything whereby God makes himself known” (A. 55). Using God’s name in a frivolous or insincere way is wrong. Take bad language, for example. Television and movies are so littered with expletives that we have almost become immune to their destructive power. The use of “Jesus,” “Christ,” or “God” as a mere expletive, vocalizing frustration or anger or disgust, is blasphemy, make no mistake about it.

Or, take promises we make. The Old Testament spoke strongly against the practice of adding God’s name to a promise to add extra assurance of its trustworthiness (Lev. 19:12; Jer. 5:2; Zech 5:4). And Jesus revealed the Pharisees’ insincerity and hypocrisy, masquerading as pompous piety, when they said promises made that excluded God’s name could be broken with impunity (Matt. 5:33–37). The statement “I give you my word” ought to mean what it says. Christians should make promises guardedly and keep them carefully.

Continue reading

Ligon Duncan: Thank God for the Wonderful Incarnation of the Son of God

We bless you that when the fullness of time had come, you sent forth your Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5(ESV)

That the eternal Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and there were those who saw his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14(ESV) Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness, that God was manifested in the flesh. 1 Timothy 3:16(ESV)

We bless you that for this purpose he was born and for this purpose he came into the world, to bear witness to the truth; John 18:37(ESV) and we believe and have come to know that he is the Christ, the Holy One of God; John 6:69(ESV) that it is he who should come, and we are to look for no other.

We bless you that the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost; Luke 19:10(ESV) that he has come that we might have life and have it abundantly; John 10:10(ESV) and that the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8(ESV)

Lord, we receive the saying as trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, even the foremost. 1 Timothy 1:15(ESV)

We bless you that since the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things. Hebrews 2:14(ESV)That it is not angels that he helps, but us; and that he was made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people; Hebrews 2:16-17(ESV) and that he is not ashamed to call them brothers. Hebrews 2:11(ESV)

And that the firstborn was brought into the world with a charge given to all the angels of God to worship him. Hebrews 1:6(ESV)

This prayer Thank God for the Wonderful Incarnation of the Son of God was published at www.matthewhenry.org, Copyright 2016 – Dan Arnold and Ligon Duncan, used by Permission,  All rights reserved.

Philip Ryken: Forgive Us Our Trespasses

by

We need daily pardon and daily protection as well as daily provision. So after Jesus taught us to pray, “give us today our daily bread,” He also taught us to pray, “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:12–13).

These petitions are for fallen sinners — for people who are often tempted to sin, and sometimes give in. Even before we face these temptations, we should ask God to keep us safe from what John Calvin called in his Institutes “the violent assaults of Satan.” In asking not to be led into temptation, we are not requesting that we will never be tempted at all, but that when we are tempted God will deliver us from Satan’s deadly attacks.

But what about the times when we do sin and fall into spiritual debt? How should we pray then?

The first thing to do when we fall into debt is to figure out how much we owe. So what debt do we owe to God because of our sin? We are guilty for what we have done and for what we have left undone, for sins of omission as well as commission. Our debt includes secret sins as well as public ones, deliberate sins as well as sins committed in relative ignorance. And when all our sins are added together, they place us in God’s eternal debt.

Yet Jesus has taught us to ask our Father to help us. “Our Father,” we are to pray, “forgive us our debts.” With these words we declare our moral bankruptcy, freely admitting that we owe God more than everything we have. Then we ask Him to forgive us outright. And because He is our loving Father, God does what we ask. When we go to Him weighed down with the debt of all our sin, He does not sit down with us to work out a payment plan. Instead, He offers full and free forgiveness.

When God remits our debts He is well within His legal rights, for the Scripture says that He took our sin away, “canceling the record of debt that stood against us” by “nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14). This vivid image corresponds to the way debts were sometimes cancelled in the ancient world. When a debtor finally paid off all his debts, his creditor would strike a nail through the certificate of debt. In the same way, when Christ died on the cross, God drove a nail right through the infinite debt of our sin. There are no longer any outstanding charges against us.

The debts we ask God to forgive when we pray the way Jesus taught us to pray are the very debts that were crucified with Christ at Calvary. When Christ died on the cross, all our debts were cancelled. The Greek word for “cancel” (exaleipho), which Paul uses in Colossians 2, means “to blot out” or “to wipe away.” It means that the mountain of debt we once owed to God because of our sin has been completely erased.

Continue reading

An Ancient Prayer of Thanksgiving

published on blogs.thegospelcoalition.org by Kevin De Young

From the Didache, Chapter 10 (late 1st or early 2nd century):

We give you thanks, Holy Father,
for your holy name, which you have caused to dwell in our hearts,
and for the knowledge and faith and immortality that you have made known to us through Jesus your servant;
to you be the glory forever.

You, almighty Master, created all things for your name’s sake,
and gave food and drink to humans to enjoy, so that they might give you thanks;
but to us you have graciously given spiritual food and drink,
and eternal life through your servant.

Above all we give thanks to you because you are mighty;
to you be the glory forever.

Remember your church, Lord,
to deliver is from all evil and to make it perfect in your love;
and from the four winds gather the church that has been sanctified into your kingdom,
which you have prepared for it;
for yours is the power and the glory forever.

May grace come, and may this world pass away.
Hosanna to the God of David.
If anyone is holy, let him come;
if anyone is not, let him repent.
Maranatha! Amen.