Firstly, it carried with it the authority of such a person. For example, a person might say, "go and ask for such and such a thing in my name." What he is saying is that the use of his name, asking in his name, will legitimize the request; when the person asking uses the name, the request will be granted because the person whose name is used has control over the thing being requested.
Secondly, the name signified the character of the person. When a person says, "I have a good name," what he means is that whenever people hear of him, they associate him with good things. People might not even know the actual name (the sound) by which he is called, but when people refer to him (as for example, "the man who lives on the hill"), they associate him with good.
The name of Jesus
The Bible is full of exhortations to Christians to use the name of Jesus. Over and over we have the counsel - in fact, we have the command to use the name of Jesus. Christians must do this. However, if we don't understand what it means to use His name, then our use of the name might end up being no more than simply a formal exercise with no more effectiveness than the rituals and pronouncements of heathen rituals.
As we read the words of Christ and His apostles, it becomes clear that the power of God, available to the Christian, is associated with the use of Christ's name. The New Testament writers are very strong in emphasizing this and in fact, one of the things about Christianity which causes the greatest offence to other religions is the fact that Christianity has this insistence that the name of Christ is the only way. Peter was very exclusive and very uncompromising in his statement on the day of Pentecost.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
In today's world where it is popular to call evil good and to call good evil, where religion is simply an arm of civil governments and where morality is defined by psychology, it is not popular to be exclusive and many are outraged if anyone should dare to suggest that the name of Jesus is the only way to God. Yet, this is the truth which all who believe the Bible and understand the salvation which is in Christ, must embrace and teach. Christ is the only way, His name is the only authority on which salvation may be received.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (John 1:12)
To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:43)
Notice, it is through His name (authority), that those who believe in him receive remission of sins, it is those who believe on his name (authority) who receive the power to become sons of God. Simply put, we accept the authority of Jesus in giving us the right to become sons of God, we accept the authority of Jesus as the basis on which our sins are forgiven and the barriers between us and God removed. This means that it is imperative that we understand who Jesus is and what He did for us in accomplishing our salvation. If we are vague and uncertain in regard to these things, how will it be possible for us to understand the authority which Jesus possesses? How can we use His name with confidence and faith unless we are certain of its significance?
So we are forgiven, we become sons of God in Jesus' name. Furthermore we find that the very possibility of our entering into the kingdom of God is dependent upon this name of Jesus. Therefore in every place that the Bible records where the apostles of Christ baptized people (four places in the New Testament), they used the name which carried power and authority with it, the name in which they had been commanded to do all things - the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:38; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5)
Yashua or Yehashua?
It is true that there are some very well meaning brethren who believe that it is critical that the actual sound of the Hebrew pronunciation of Jesus' name be used. They somehow believe that because the Hebrews used this sound in referring to Him, or rather that because this was the Hebrew pronunciation of the word by which Christ was named, it is vital that we do the same thing today, and for all eternity. I will not address this issue today as it will distract from the point of this article. However, if we can understand the point of using the name of Jesus, certain things will become clear to us.
Are we being asked to focus on a particular sound, or on the authority of Jesus Christ? Furthermore, what is the basis of that authority of Jesus Christ? Why is it that He has such influence in heaven and why can we have such confidence in the fact that His influence there is supreme? Is it the way in which we use a particular sound when addressing Him, or is it the faith in who He is, which is the source of power? These are the issues which are truly critical when we speak of "the name of Jesus." When a person, understanding what He did, who He is, where He is, calls upon God using the authority bestowed upon us by Jesus Christ, then all the promised blessings of heaven are opened to such a person. Not because he uses a certain sound or a certain accent in speaking with God, but because he recognizes and acknowledges the One that God sent.
Power in Jesus' name
At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: (John 16:26)
And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:23-24)
Jesus was about to leave the disciples. Up to this point, they had been dependent on Him for everything. Their minds could not accept the possibility that they were now to be deprived of His presence, of the comforting assurance which came from having Him around, of the certainty with God which was associated with Him. Now Jesus opened up a new approach to their minds: "Up to this point," He says, "you have never used my name in approaching God. You have never used my authority as the basis of your requests when asking God for anything. Now I am telling you to use my name - as the basis of your requests, use my authority - tell God that you expect to be answered BECAUSE OF ME. Not because you have been obedient, not because you have been born of a good family, not because you have been a faithful worker for Him, but because of me!" Ask Him to grant your request because of me, because you believe in me, because you accept that I am your only reason for acceptance with God. Ask in this way and I am telling you, whatever you ask, it will be done. He will give it to you!"
"Go ahead and try," He said, "up to this point you have never asked for anything in my name, but now, go ahead and ask in my name. Ask, and YOU WILL RECEIVE so that you will be full of joy."
What an extraordinary and wonderful promise!! Did He expect us to accept and apply this promise just as it reads? Just think about what Jesus was saying here and remember that He is One who cannot exaggerate nor lie. His whole point was that there was a way in which they could guarantee that God would hear and answer their prayers. That way was to use His name, something which they had never tried before. I can imagine that the next time these disciples went to pray, remembering the words of Jesus, they said, "in Jesus' name Father, I am asking in Jesus' name." Their hope rested in Him, their expectation was based on the authority which He possessed in heaven and earth. The recognition of who He was and of what God had done through Him filled them with hope and expectation. They knew, as they asked in His name that the granting of their requests was an absolute certainty. He had said that it was so, and since He had all power in heaven and in earth, there was no question that it was so.
This is the same power available in Jesus' name today. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, His love for us and His willingness to grant our requests is still just as certain as it always was. He is still the One who sits at God's right hand, the place of all power, our Representative at His throne and He is still just as faithful in keeping His promise:
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)
How great is the privilege which comes to us as we use the name of Jesus? This power is absolute. It is absolute because it is the very power of God made available to, and working through and on behalf of His children because they come to Him in the name of Jesus; because they look to Jesus as the ONLY source of their authority with God, they see Him as the only qualification needed in coming to God and requesting any needed blessing in heaven and earth. This was the reason for the great power which attended the early apostolic work and which has attended every true revival throughout history. It is the fact that all attention and all dependency was focused on Jesus alone. Humanity and its merits and capabilities faded into nothingness. None approached God on any basis but on the basis of Jesus and the results were extraordinary. The promise given by Jesus was fulfilled in its entirety.
The Authority of Jesus
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matthew 28:18)
For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. (1 Corinthians 15:27)
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: (Philippians 2:9)
Let us never lose sight of this foundational fact: Jesus Himself is the Redeemer of God's Israel. The power of God is in His hand and all things have been put under His feet. When we come in Jesus' name, we come on the basis that our brother, One who is our flesh and blood brother, sits on the throne of the universe. We come to God in His name, meaning that all that He possesses, we claim. Whatever is His right and authority is the right and authority which we claim. Oh may God help us to understand what we have been given, help us to understand what it means that we may come to Him, in Jesus' name.
Jesus' authority in us
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:17-18)
Notice the extraordinary things which were to be done, and which were done by those who believed. But notice even more carefully the condition on which these things were done - it was, "in my name!" It was the name of Jesus which was the basis and the reason for this extraordinary power which attended the work of the apostles.
And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. (Luke 10:17)
Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. (Acts 3:6)
And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. (Acts 3:16)
Let us understand that when we use the name of Jesus, He is duty-bound to honour all that we have come to expect in association with His name. That is, all which He has promised, and all which God has promised through Him.
The source of the power
We have seen that the name of Jesus has reference to His character and authority and that we must come to God or to Jesus, in utter dependency on Him. We must depend on what He has done, on who He is, on the place where He sits. However, there is another vital aspect to the name of Jesus which we must understand. All the power and authority and the character of Jesus are wrapped up in one single gift which has been given to the children of God. Well, isn't this gift, Jesus Himself? Is it not in Him that the power, authority and character are all wrapped up? Yes, this is true, but consider this statement of Jesus:
If ye love me, keep my commandments. (16) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (17) Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (18) I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:15-18)
Consider the implications of what Jesus was saying here. He was deeply concerned by the obvious distress of His disciples now that they knew He would be going away. He reassured them with the promise, "I will send another Comforter - in fact, I will come to you!" From this time forward, the strength of the disciples could not be based on the physical, visible presence of Jesus. Up to this point they could always have come to Him, told Him their difficulties, explained their frustrations and their needs and He was always there to help them. But now, He was leaving and it seemed that they were to be left as helpless orphans. But Jesus reassured them, "my presence will be with you. I will be there, literally (not physically), I will be there just as certainly and as truly as when you could see my physical form." So the authority, the character of Jesus would be with them and IN THEM! This was what He had promised - the Comforter would be IN them. No wonder they were to use the name (authority) of Jesus, because it was indeed Jesus Himself who would be in them and working through them. The use of His name was simply their recognition of the fact, and their expression of faith in the truth that He was in them.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
So all the authority, character and power of Jesus has been embodied in the holy spirit and given as a gift to His people. By this means, Jesus, with all His attributes, dwells with, and in His people. He is their life, their Comforter, their authority, their security, their power. Therefore, they do all things in His name, acknowledging that it is indeed He who lives in them and that all their works are done in, and through and by Him. The holy spirit in fact, is the name of Jesus (Jesus' authority made alive). So when we use the name of Jesus in faith, we are turning the key which releases all the power of the holy spirit present in us.
Authority as a group
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)
God loves all of us and in Jesus Christ He is able to manifest His love in a special way to those who are His children. He does not love one of us or some of us only, He loves us all. As a father loves all his children and knows each one individually, so God loves us each one. But I am a father and I know that one of my happiest moments is when my children are gathered together and I am there with them. I also remember that there was no happier moment for my own father than when all the family would gather together and sing. His ten children are scattered far and wide now, but while he was alive his greatest pleasure was when there was a family get-together and we would just spend some time around him.
Understanding this, I can appreciate with greater insight what Jesus meant by the statement above. Whenever His brethren gather together in His name, that is, with their interest and attention centered on Him, then He would be present among them in a special way. His presence and His power would be manifested. Notice, that this is not so when people gather together for any reason, but is especially true when they gather together in His name!
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Corinthians 5:4)
The power of the Lord is present when we gather together in His name. May we understand and believe this wonderful reality. As we congregate around Him, focused on Him, recognizing Him, then not only will we see His character manifested in us, but we will see the manifestations of His power among us. The sick will be healed, devils cast out, because it is He Himself living in and among us when we come together, in His name.
Relating to the sick
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (James 5:14)
We are all familiar with this verse in James. The sad thing is that we are more familiar with this verse and perhaps have it more prominently embedded in our minds than the verse which follows it:
And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (James 5:15)
It is amazing that there is no "maybe" or "perhaps" mentioned in the verse. The simple statement of truth is that "the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up." Jesus is just as present among His people as He ever was, and just as willing and ready to heal our diseases, spiritual and physical, as He ever was. This is the reason for our confidence, this is the reason for our readiness to carry out the instructions given. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. What He did while He was here, He is ready and willing to do again, over and over, for all who put their trust in Him, as the people did two thousand years ago.
Yet, most of the time that this promise in the book of James is read and exercised, there is more of a desperate hope than any real conviction that the promise will certainly be fulfilled. Why is this so? We are told that the sick is to be anointed "in the name of the Lord." Again we see this essential reality that it is Jesus in us and among us who must exercise His own power. We have none, but when we anoint the sick "in the name of the Lord," we are recognizing and laying hold on His presence among us and this is why the sick is healed! As we anoint the sick in the name of the Lord, it is the exercise of faith in the reality of all that Christ is to us, in the reality that Christ's character of love and mercy makes Him always willing to take our sorrows, to take our pains and sufferings, spiritual or physical and to heal them.
An attitude to guard against
Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. (Acts 19:13-17)
The experience of the seven sons of Sceva emphasizes the point that there is no power in the sound of the name. There is no benefit in using words without possessing faith in what they represent. If it were not for the mercy of God there would be far more today who have the same experience as the sons of Sceva, or perhaps it is that modern-day Christians keep so far away from anything supernatural that Satan does not have much opportunity to manifest himself on them in the same way as he did with these sons of Sceva. The power is not in words, the power is not in a sound spoken with the right accents. The power is Jesus Himself, the one who ruled nature, who ruled devils, who ruled over sickness and disease while He was here and is still just as much alive and well in those who are truly His children. Faith in this truth, confidence in Him and in His indwelling presence is the key which releases His power in our lives and in our circumstances.
His name in all things
When we understand this truth, when the reality of it and the implications of it are truly understood and appreciated, then the words of the apostle Paul will hardly be necessary as far as we are concerned because our own hearts will draw us naturally into an experience where the name of Jesus becomes our reason for everything.
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5:20)
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. (Colossians 3:17)
God bless you, in the name of Jesus!